With two teams ranked in the top five facing off this weekend in Death Valley, somebody’s gotta lose. Welcome back to the Upset Watch, ACC’s elite:
1. No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson. You know the history by now: Florida State has not won in Death Valley since 2001. That doesn’t mean the streak won’t end on Saturday. Yes, Clemson is ranked higher, and the two programs have seemingly switched positions from last season, but this Florida State team is equally as talented, will give Clemson’s defensive line some pushback up front and will challenge the Tigers’ wide receivers. FSU quarterback Jameis Winston has already proven that he can handle adversity with road wins against Boston College and Pitt. The Noles also had a bye week to prepare for this game. We won’t know how much of a gap truly exists between the two programs until they play on Saturday, but as of right now, it looks as thin as paper. This should be anyone’s game.
2. Maryland at Wake Forest. The Terps need just one more win to become bowl eligible for the first time under coach Randy Edsall. They’re not going to let an unheralded Wake Forest team get in the way, are they? Not with quarterback C.J. Brown returning to the lineup after healing from a concussion, right? Well, the Deacs might have something to say about that. They had a bye week to prepare for Maryland, they’ll have home field advantage, and they know their chances to become bowl eligible are quickly shrinking. Plus, they’re coming off a 28-13 win over NC State in which the offense finally seemed to find a groove. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from watching “the rest of the Atlantic Division,” i.e. everyone but FSU and Clemson, it’s that they’re a muddled mess, and everyone has a chance to win.
3. No. 10 Miami at North Carolina. There’s no reason the Canes should lose this game, and there was hesitation in putting them on the list this week, considering how poorly UNC has played this season. Miami, though, has not fared well against the Tar Heels, losing four of the past six games. UNC also had a bye week to prepare for this game, they know their margin for error is slim with bowl hopes still on the line, and they’re still looking for their first league win. Miami has also had eight turnovers in the past two games. At some point, that’s going to come back to haunt it. Oh, and the last time UNC beat a top-10 team? A 31-28 win over No. 4 Miami in 2004.