Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
My picks have been so outstanding lately that my own mother told me I should eat crow this week. (Seriously.) Entering week nine, I’ve picked 43 of 64 games right for a 67.1 winning percentage. Here’s my attempt at redeeming the family name this week …
Boston College 28, Central Michigan 21: If the Chippewas can beat in-state rival Michigan State in East Lansing, they’re capable of an upset in Chestnut Hill, but it’s unlikely. BC is undefeated at home, has a defense capable of slowing quarterback Dan LeFevour, is 2-0 against Central Michigan, and the seniors on the roster should remember because they beat LeFevour 31-24 when he was a freshman.
Clemson 35, Coastal Carolina 3: After facing three opponents ranked among the top 15, this is the first FCS team the Tigers have faced. After a huge overtime win at Miami, there should be an extra effort to avoid a letdown. Coastal Carolina’s offense, which ranks 101st in the nation in scoring with just 16 points per game (at the FCS level, mind you) should be overmatched by the Tigers’ defense.
Florida State 35, NC State 31: Whichever defense decides to show up in the fourth quarter will win this one, and I’m going with the Noles because that’s what the defense did last week against UNC. Plus, FSU has too much left to play for, both in the Atlantic Division standings and in regards to a bowl game. They’ve got the momentum now, and they'll have home field advantage.
Miami 28, Wake Forest 20: Miami has a five-game winning streak in this series and is looking to bounce back from its devastating loss to Clemson. The Canes have more overall speed and talent, but the defensive line will have to do a better job of putting pressure on veteran quarterback Riley Skinner than it did on Kyle Parker. Skinner will keep it close, but Mark Whipple has more options to work with on offense.
Duke 24, Virginia 14: The Cavaliers’ pass defense has been very good this year, but it won’t be able to stop quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, and that will be the difference as both teams have struggled to run the ball. Virginia hasn’t been turning it over like it did last year against Duke, but the Blue Devils should still have some confidence from last year’s win. They need three more wins to become bowl eligible, and in order for it to remain a realistic shot, Duke needs this win.
Georgia Tech 31, Vanderbilt 17: Georgia Tech currently has a better record (1-0) against the SEC than Vanderbilt does (0-5). Both teams have relied on their running games, but Georgia Tech’s is better. If Virginia Tech couldn’t stop it, Vanderbilt won’t be able to, either. The Jackets will eat up the clock and wear out Vandy's defense, just like they've done to everyone else in their five-game winning streak.
Virginia Tech 21, North Carolina 10: After being embarrassed in the second half last week against Florida State, expect the Tar Heels’ defense to come to play for four quarters. Their forte is stopping the run, and that’s what the Hokies do best. But nobody has been able to completely stop Ryan Williams this year, and the Hokies are no longer one-dimensional. Plus, Virginia Tech has the huge advantage of the Thursday night Lane Stadium crowd working in its favor.