You don’t have to be ranked to be on the upset watch, but guess what? Duke is, and the Blue Devils are the only ranked ACC team featured here this week. Welcome to the club, Dookies.
1. Virginia (2-8, 0-6 ACC) at Miami (7-3, 3-3): Despite Miami’s struggles, Virginia has been even worse this season, and it would still be a significant upset if the Hoos went on the road and did what they’ve done before -- shocked the Canes. Virginia has won the past three games in the series, including last year in Charlottesville when the Cavaliers battled back from a 10-point deficit to win with six seconds remaining. Four of the past five meetings have been decided by seven points or less, and Virginia has had a bye week to prepare for this game while Miami has lost three straight. Virginia has nothing to lose, and Miami’s defense has allowed each of its past three opponents to score more than 40 points. For some reason, Virginia has had Miami’s number recently, and it’s the perfect time to keep the streak alive against a Miami team that is reeling.
2. Duke (8-2, 4-2) at Wake Forest (4-6, 2-5): The Blue Devils are ranked No. 25 in the AP poll this week, and a win against Wake Forest would give the program nine wins, the most Duke has won since 1941. It would also guarantee Duke at least a share of the Coastal Division title. But a loss would put Duke into a tiebreaker situation with Georgia Tech, and also possibly with Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina, depending upon how those teams finish. This is a series Wake Forest has recently dominated, but last year Duke won 34-27 and snapped a 12-game losing streak to Wake Forest. This is also a must-win game for the Deacs, who have to win their final two games to become bowl eligible. The pressure is on for both teams, but the Blue Devils have far more to lose.
3. East Carolina (8-2, 6-1 C-USA) at NC State (3-7, 0-7): ECU is actually favored in this game, as the Pirates should be, considering the Pack’s sorry state of affairs. NC State has lost six straight games and is winless in ACC play, while East Carolina is 8-2 for the first time since 1999 and is bowl eligible for the third time in four years. The Pirates lost to Virginia Tech but beat North Carolina -- convincingly -- earlier this year. Still, this is the kind of game first-year NC State coach Dave Doeren needs to win, especially on his home turf. (It would also be one small bragging right the Pack could hold over rival UNC this year.) NC State can help salvage its season by ending with back-to-back home wins, but it has to start this weekend.