Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
Florida State and Maryland, for entirely different reasons, proved me wrong last week, but they were the only ones. Heading into this week, I’ve picked 24 of 31 games correctly for a 77.4 percentage. I'm 2-0 with my Miami picks. The more conference games that are played, the tougher it gets. Virginia has a bye week. Here are this week’s picks:
Miami 24, Virginia Tech 21: Miami’s offense is more prolific, but Virginia Tech’s defense will at least slow the Canes down enough to make this a wildly entertaining and close game. If it were a night game, this might be a different pick, but the Canes are too calm, composed and confident to let a 3:30 p.m. crowd at Lane Stadium determine the outcome.
North Carolina 24, Georgia Tech 14: The Yellow Jackets have too many problems up front -- on both sides of the ball -- to overcome the Tar Heels’ stingy defense and rapidly improving offense. UNC proved last year it can contain Paul Johnson’s offense in a 28-7 win, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t do it again.
Duke 35, N.C. Central 7: Not even the Blue Devils should fall to an FCS school twice, especially one four miles away that is 0-3. This should be a final tune-up for Duke heading into ACC play which begins next week against Virginia Tech.
Wake Forest 17, Boston College 14: This is the kind of game that will involve something along the lines of a blocked punt for a touchdown, or some other non-offensive way of scoring. BC’s defense isn’t the problem, but the issues at quarterback will be too much to overcome.
TCU 14, Clemson 10: TCU will stifle Clemson’s offense, starting up front, where defensive end Jerry Hughes will have his way with the Tigers’ offensive line. Clemson’s defense will rise to the challenge, though, and will set up a touchdown or a field goal. C.J. Spiller will get them good field position, but it won’t overcome TCU’s outstanding coaching.
Florida State 31, South Florida 10: Bulls’ starting quarterback Matt Grothe is out, and that will be the difference, but South Florida will hang in for some time because many players will be playing with a recruiting chip on their shoulder. The Noles say they learned a lesson from their near letdown against Jacksonville State. They should be able to handle their recent success.
Rutgers 20, Maryland 17: It’s not like Rutgers is the “Ray Rice Rutgers.” It’s an average team, but the Terps have played below average, and so the Scarlet Knights get the edge.
NC State 24, Pittsburgh 21: This has the last-play-of-the-game kind of feel to it. Pitt’s program is on the rise, and the run-stuffing defense will pose problems for the Pack up front, but Russell Wilson is the difference, as is coaching in this one.