You can't handle the truth

The truth is, there is a segment of the sports media that depends on certain outcomes. The stories have to fit their narrative so their talking points will create an emotional response from their readers/listeners. This drives ratings. This is important when there is so much competition for paper sales, clicks on a website, listeners to a radio show or podcast, etc. ‘cause ratings pay the bills.

Keep this in mind this week when you hear the traditional narrative about how NC State can’t handle success. How they get ranked in the Top 25 and have a game where they blow (another) opportunity with dropped passes, penalties, etc. that result in their swift departure from the national rankings.  This is a narrative that has been used for years, and we should see a bit of it this week.

Also keep in mind State lost by one point at Miami to a team that should have been on a two-game winning streak except for some questionable end of game coaching decisions against Virginia and at Carolina. Remember Fearless pointed out last week a second straight road night game would be a challenge for any team. So for this loss, the AP poll voters dropped the Wolfpack out of the Top 25 at 5-2.

Compare that with Penn State, also at 5-2, who lost at home to an Illiinois team that would be the worst team in the ACC. Or to a Coastal Carolina team at 6-1 with 0 quality wins that lost in Boone to App State last Wednesday in their first real test of the season. Both are still ranked. But neither should be ranked above NC State. 

With that off our chest, let’s break out the dartboard and take a look at this week’s games:

MIAMI AT PITTSBURGH: The Panthers are the best team in the ACC. We are starting to think it might not be close. Look for a letdown from the U as they travel north. The Canes have won seven of the last eight in the Steel City, but we don’t think that trend will continue here. ….Pitt 35, Miami 24.

VIRGINIA TECH AT GEORGIA TECH: The Hokies have won four of the last five between these two on the Flats, but come in here on a four game Power Five losing streak. In fact, the only Power 5 win VaTech has this year is against UNC. They’ll get their second one here as they are playing for coach Justin Fuente’s job (if he still has it by next Saturday)…Virginia Tech 27, Georgia Tech 24.

FLORIDA STATE AT CLEMSON: This used to be the biggest game of the year in the ACC. This year not so much. Last year’s game in Tallahassee was cancelled due to COVID, and Coach Dabo complained it cost Clemson $300,000 (or about what they spend on recruiting weekend). We would expect him to run it up here, but we aren’t sure the Tigers can…..Clemson 24, Florida State 17.

BOSTON COLLEGE AT SYRACUSE: The Eagles are on a three game losing streak. The Orange came back in the fourth quarter last weekend to upset Virginia Tech, breaking their own three game losing streak. Home field will be the deciding factor in this matchup between two even teams….Syracuse 28, Boston College 27.

VIRGINIA AT BYU: Cav coach Bronco Mendenhall left Provo for Charlottesville in 2015. At 6-2, this is the best UVA team in his tenure. A road trip to Utah is no easy task, but the Wahoo air attack is one of the best in the nation, and we look for an upset here against the 25th ranked Cougars. A high scoring affair…Virginia 41, BYU 35.

SOUTH FLORIDA AT EAST CAROLINA: The last time the Golden Bulls played in the Tarheel State on a Thursday night, they left Raleigh with a 45-0 defeat. This one is in Greenville, and Dowdy-Ficklen will be rocking on ESPN. The Pirates are better than their 3-4 record and will surprise the national audience by running away with this one. USF will be glad to have the North Carolina portion of their schedule done after this one…East Carolina 38, South Florida 16.

LOUISVILLE AT N.C. STATE: State’s defense will be the key here as both teams are relatively equal on the offensive side of the ball. The Pack is down three starters on defense for the year, maybe four depending on LB Isaiah Moore’s status for this week. The backups will need to step up to get them back on the winning track. This one will be closer than Vegas thinks. A Chris Dunn FG is the difference in the third straight night game for State…N.C. State 31, Louisville 28.

DUKE AT WAKE FOREST: Wake scored 70 points in their win at West Point last weekend and didn’t punt a single time. But they gave up 56. You can’t give up 56 points to Army and be the 13th ranked team in the nation. And while that ranking may be a bit high for the undefeated Deacons, they won’t be tested at home by the Blue Devils, who are now officially the worst team in the ACC…Wake Forest 49, Duke 21.

NORTH CAROLINA AT NOTRE DAME: The Tarheels have been a disappointment this year, at least when you consider their pre-season ranking. But that ranking was due to an abundance of talent that has not lived up to its recruiting ranking billing. We look for that to change here. Notre Dame is not the same team that won last year in Chapel Hill, and we smell a signature win for Carolina. A big upset in the reversal of last year’s score…North Carolina 31, Notre Dame 17.

OTHER MAJOR GAMES THIS WEEKEND: Coastal Carolina over Troy (only cause it’s in Conway), Appalachian State over UL Monroe, Western Kentucky over Charlotte, Georgia over Florida, Ole Miss over Auburn, Kentucky over Mississippi State, Missouri over Vanderbilt, Ohio State over Penn State, Michigan over Michigan State, Iowa over Wisconsin, Texas over Baylor.

TOFF COMPOSITE TOP TEN:  1. Georgia  2. Alabama  3.Ohio State  4.  Oklahoma  5. Cincinnati  6.  Michigan  7. Michigan State  8.  Ole Miss 9. Oregon 10. Pittsburgh.

Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2021.