ACC football picks: Clemson vs. Virginia & 3 more
It’s been an odd year, but despite all the uncertainty, one thing remains consistent — the Clemson Tigers are head and shoulders above everyone else in the ACC.
As we kick off Week 5 of the regular season and teams play anywhere from their second to fourth game, let’s take a look at this week's matchups, including the No. 1 Tigers’ primetime matchup.
#1 Clemson vs. Virginia
Sun, October 4 2020, 12:00 AM
Virginia isn't a slouch. The Cavaliers won the ACC Coastal Division in 2019 and have been picked to be in the top-half of the conference again in 2020.
The Cavaliers kicked off the 2020 season with a nice win against Duke, 38-20, in which new starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns. The strength of their team is the defensive back seven, and senior linebacker Zane Zandier racked up 15 tackles in the opener, including two for loss.
Virginia outscored Duke, 17-0, in the fourth quarter, so the game was closer than the final score appears, but the Cavaliers benefited greatly from seven turnovers by the Blue Devils. They shouldn’t expect that many gifts in any other game this season. Against Clemson and Trevor Lawrence, especially, such opportunities will not exist.
Clemson finds itself in a familiar position, as a massive favorite in a conference game, one the Tigers will likely win by a wider margin than the spread, if they play at their best.
By most accounts, Lawrence had an “off” first half of his sophomore season, and yet he finished in the top 10 of every notable statistical category. Through two commanding victories in 2020, Lawrence is averaging an astounding 14 yards per pass attempt, a number that will likely be impossible to maintain.
The Clemson roster is fast, strong, and talented, and even though Memorial Stadium will not its normal rocking self Saturday night, this is not a good first road appearance opportunity for UVA’s first-year starting quarterback.
Pick: Clemson -28
North Carolina State vs. #24 Pitt
Sat, October 3 2020, 4:00 PM
North Carolina St Wolfpack
Pittsburgh has an opportunity to get to 4-0 for the first time since 2000.
The NC State defense has given up 42 points and 45 points in their first two games, is 0-7 against the spread in their last seven games as road underdogs, and that doesn’t bode well against a seasoned Pitt offense.
Pick: Pitt -14
Virginia Tech vs. Duke
Sat, October 3 2020, 8:00 PM
Duke Blue Devils
Virginia Tech Hokies
Duke has had a rough start to the season, even though it brought in a quarterback who has been present for a lot of victories.
Chase Brice is the Clemson transfer who was brought in to run coach David Cutcliffe’s offense, but he is completing just 51.3% of his passes, for two touchdowns and six interceptions, during the Blue Devils' 0-3 run.
That won’t cut it against a team that is 6-1 ATS in its last seven conference games.
Pick: Virginia Tech -10.5
#12 North Carolina vs. Boston College
Sat, October 3 2020, 7:30 PM
Boston College Eagles
North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina is the dark-horse in the ACC, on the back of its sensational sophomore quarterback, Sam Howell, but this line feels like too many points for a team that has yet to back up the hype.
Boston College is far from a heavyweight in the conference, but it is 2-0 and tends to play tough, lower-scoring contests, where points have more value. Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec has had a nice start to the season, with a 70.5% completion rate.