Week 12 did not go according to plan – at least not my plan. Or Clemson’s plan. Or Florida State’s plan. The other game I struck out on was picking Miami to lose to South Florida in overtime. That added up to a 4-3 record last week, which brings me to 66-23 overall — a 74.16 winning percentage. The goal this season was 80 percent. I thought about self-imposing a bowl ban as punishment, but the Discover Orange Bowl is just too much fun. Instead, I will watch Maryland’s defense for one more week. Here’s to finishing the season strong in the ACC …
Miami 27, Boston College 17: A flat start by Miami wouldn’t be a surprise, considering that the Canes already know they’re not going to a bowl game this season. Coach Al Golden, though, is convinced his team has enough senior leadership that it won’t collapse in its season finale – especially at home. The Eagles have a myriad of problems, but their defense will help keep the game interesting.
Virginia Tech 28, Virginia 24: The Hokies are one of the country’s best road teams, so playing in front of a sold-out crowd in Charlottesville shouldn’t be a factor. Virginia Tech has been there, done that, and knows how to win when a title is on the line. Virginia has made tremendous strides this year, but it hasn’t closed the gap with the kings of the Coastal. Strong performances by David Wilson and Logan Thomas will be the key.
Wake Forest 28, Vanderbilt 21: The Deacs are going to have their hands full, as bowl eligibility is on the line for Vandy. The Commodores are going to give Wake Forest their best shot under first-year coach James Franklin, but another outstanding performance by quarterback Tanner Price and one or two key takeaways for the defense will be the difference.
South Carolina 31, Clemson 28: The matchup here is South Carolina’s defense against Clemson’s offense, which has struggled with turnovers in each of the past three games. Quarterback Tajh Boyd has to make better decisions, and the defense has to make some stops if Clemson is going to pull off this upset. At this point, though, confidence is as much of an issue as execution.
Georgia 35, Georgia Tech 28: The SEC East champs dropped their first two games but haven’t lost since, and coach Mark Richt — once on the hot seat — has far exceeded expectations. Quite frankly, the eyeball test says the Bulldogs are the better team. The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, have yet to play as well as they did in their Oct. 29 upset of Clemson.
Florida State 21, Florida 17: The Gators have some problems, and FSU’s defense is going to be another one. With a victory over Miami, the Noles are still hoping to win the unofficial state championship, and Jimbo Fisher is ahead of the game against first-year coach and friend Will Muschamp. The Seminoles will rebound from their 14-13 loss to Virginia, and they’ll do it again with defense and special teams.
North Carolina 31, Duke 21: The Tar Heels’ defense will be the difference, particularly up front, where Duke has suffered some injuries on the offensive line. UNC will avoid ending the season on a three-game losing streak, but it could be the final home game for interim coach Everett Withers.
NC State 35, Maryland 17: The Wolfpack has been one of the ACC’s most inconsistent teams this year, but with bowl eligibility on the line, NC State will put together back-to-back winning performances. Quarterback Mike Glennon has played well all season, and the offense really found its groove last week against Clemson. If the Pack plays like it did last week against the Terps, it will be another long day for the Maryland defense.