COVID 19, college football 10

When the college football season started in September, we were unsure how things would go.  The Big 10, the Pac12 and the MAC had cancelled their seasons (at least for the fall), but the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and others moved forward. We cannot say it has been a complete success, but taking stock of where we are today moving into the season’s 10th week, we think things have gone as well as they could.

The Big 10 changed their minds and started their season a few weeks ago. This week, we have MAC games (all 12 teams play on Wednesday night), and the Pac 12 starts this coming weekend. We hope things stay manageable, and we get to see the season completed.

This week, we got the news that Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence tested positive for the virus. Lawrence missed Saturday’s game against Boston College and will miss this week’s game against Notre Dame. Since the Irish are technically in the ACC this year, the matchup between the Tigers and the Irish is the first top five matchup between two ACC schools since Florida State whupped Clemson 51-14 in 2013. 

The irony is COVID is the reason for the top five matchup (without it Notre Dame wouldn’t be in the ACC) and COVID is keeping the league’s (and possibly the nation’s) best player out of the game. If the Tigers lose, it could impact the ACC’s chances to get in the playoffs. But with the way things are going, it’s too early to tell if it will. Shoot, it’s too early to know with certainty there will even be a playoff.

So let’s set up the dartboard and look at the marquee matchup along with the rest of the ACC slate…

LIBERTY AT VIRGINIA TECH: The Flames are 6-0 and have a 17 point win at Syracuse on their resume. The biggest issue we see here is the University of Falwell had some questionable COVID testing protocols that made the ACC nervous. And the Hokies have been ground zero for issues in the league so far. Off the field, it’s a win if Tech gets through this one virus free. On the field…Virginia Tech 42, Liberty 24. 

BOSTON COLLEGE AT SYRACUSE: The Eagles almost pulled off the upset of the decade (the 2020s) last weekend in Death Valley against the Lawrence-less Tigers. BC is a sneaky good middle of the road ACC team. The Orange, on the other hand, are not. Syracuse has lost four straight, three at the Carrier Dome. Home field advantage should make this one close? Nope….Boston College 28, Syracuse 17.

PITTSBURGH AT FLORIDA STATE: The Noles have been a major disappointment this year. Other than one good half that led to an upset of North Carolina, FSU has been a humid mess. If Panther QB Kenny Pickett is back from his ankle injury, we look for Pitt to get an easy win here. If Joey Yellen plays, it’s a toss up. Picking this one based on Pickett….Pittsburgh 31, Florida State 21.

LOUISVILLE AT VIRGINIA:  A couple weeks ago, Florida State took an early lead against UNC and held on to get the upset win. The Noles lost the next week to Louisville 48-16. Last week, Virginia took an early lead against UNC and held on to get the upset win. This week, the Cavs face Louisville. Maybe there is some sort of Howell Hangover/Cardinal Cure? We think so. Factoring in home field…Louisville 45, Virginia 23.

TULANE AT EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates were robbed last week in Tulsa. When the league office apologizes for a clearly blown fumble call, what else can you say? Since this one is in Greenville, hopefully the refs can get things right here. Tulane’s triple option will be a challenge, but we think ECU bounces back at home. Vegas calls this an upset. We call it… East Carolina 31, Tulane 30. 

MIAMI AT N.C. STATE: Friday night lights in Carter-Finley. This will be the Pack’s third home game this year (2-0 so far) and the Canes’ third road game (1-1). An upset is possible here if State can limit the turnovers (-4 differential against UNC contributed to the blowout loss) and keep Miami QB D’Eriq King in check. We don’t see the Wolfpack being able to do either well enough to get the win….The U 35, N.C. State 24.

NORTH CAROLINA AT DUKE: The Blue Devils have won three of the last four in the battle for the Victory Bell, losing last year’s matchup in Chapel Hill 20-17. UNC is a top 10 team in Chapel Hill, but 1-2 on the road with the one win being an almost-loss to Boston College. Rivalry game at home against an opponent with a disappointing road record would point toward a Duke win, but we think there is too much of a talent disparity in this one to call for a third road loss in a row for the Tarheels…. UNC 34, Duke 20.

CLEMSON AT NOTRE DAME: The initial thought here might be without Lawrence the advantage should go to the Irish. But this is still the same Clemson teams that gets five star recruits two deep at every position. And the backup QB coming off the bench (DJ Uiagalelei) was the top ranked signal caller in his recruiting class.  Bottom line is the Tigers are too talented for the Irish, and the lack of focus they sometimes show against lesser opponents will not an issue here. A blow out is possible, but we’ll call it….Clemson 31, Notre Dame 17. 

OTHER MAJOR GAMES THIS WEEKEND:  Appalachian State over Texas State, Charlotte over Middle Tennessee, Georgia over Florida, Texas A&M over South Carolina, Arkansas over Tennessee, Mississippi State over Vanderbilt, BYU over Boise State, Ohio State over Rutgers, Oklahoma State over Kansas State, Michigan over Indiana, Cincinnati over Houston, Southern Cal over Arizona State, Oregon over Stanford.

TOFF TOP TEN: 1.  Clemson   2.  Alabama  3. Notre Dame  4.  Georgia  5. Ohio State  6.  Cincinnati  7.  Florida   8.  Texas A & M  9.  Miami.  10. BYU

Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2020.