2017 ACC Football: Three impact Coastal Division games in week 7

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 07: Anthony Ratliff-Williams
CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 07: Anthony Ratliff-Williams /

Which ACC Coastal Division games are the biggest of the weekend?

Last week there were 17 undefeated teams in college football. Despite none of them playing one another, that number dropped to 13 thanks in a large part to upsets by Iowa State and Michigan State.

Anyways, for the second-straight week, there will be no matchups between unbeaten teams.

Also, for the first time this season, no ranked teams play each other this week. Maybe this is why College GameDay decided to go to James Madison this weekend.

So without any real national intrigue this weekend, let’s dive into the three impact games in the ACC Coastal, starting with the first of two interdivisional games this weekend.

Georgia Tech at Miami (Saturday, October 14th @ 3:30 pm)

This game was pushed back from Thursday to Saturday to allow the Hurricanes to make up for the Florida State game.

So instead of the two teams both coming off restful bye weeks, only the Yellow Jackets are.

Georgia Tech has not beaten Miami since 2014, the last time they won the Coastal. Will history repeat itself?

Things going for the Yellow Jackets: The running game. The only rushing offense better than Georgia Tech’s is Navy, where Head Coach Paul Johnson used to coach. Nobody in the power five does it better than the Yellow Jackets.

The Yellow Jackets have 90 more rushing yards per game than the next closest Power Five squad, Arizona.

Meanwhile, Miami is only alright against the run allowing 148 yards per game, which is 62nd nationally. However, the Hurricanes have allowed only one rushing touchdown on 154 attempts this season, second best in the nation.

Things going for the Hurricanes: Malik Rosier. The Hurricanes quarterback sits fourth in the ACC in both passing yards and touchdowns. In his past two games, he has 524 passing yards and five scores.

His touchdown against Florida State with six seconds left gave the Hurricanes the four-point win.

Rosier has not been overly accurate this season completing less than 60 percent of his passes, including less than 50 percent over the past two games.

Georgia Tech’s defense has also been pretty stout against the pass. The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC in allowing only 158 passing yards per game. They also have 10 sacks and four interceptions on the season.

Though they do rank seventh in the conference in allowing teams to complete 57.6 percent of their passes.

If not for a late collapse to Tennessee by Georgia Tech, this would probably be a battle of ranked undefeated squads. Instead, it is a battle for first place in the Coastal with a key win over a fellow crown claimer.

Georgia Tech is running the ball well and in a lot of ways, I think they are being underrated by the nation. The defense is good enough to keep the ball in the Yellow Jacket’s hands and the offense knows how to eat the clock.

However, Paul Johnson has never beaten the Hurricanes in Florida.

These are two different style offenses that have defenses that defend said offense well. It will be interesting to see which one gets the job done.

Virginia at North Carolina (Saturday, October 14th @ 3:30 pm)

The Virginia-North Carolina Rivalry is known as the South’s Oldest Rivalry. The first meeting took place back in 1892 and has been played 121 times since. UNC leads the all-time series 63-54-4.

Things going for the Cavaliers: Jordan Ellis. As mentioned in this week’s power rankings, Ellis has been providing the balance the Cavaliers have needed on offense. So far this season, he is averaging nearly four yards per rush.

He hasn’t yet rushed for 100 yards yet this season but luckily for him, he gets the Tar Heels. UNC’s defense is allowing 241.7 yards per game, which is 122nd nationally, and third worse among Power five schools.

They have also allowed teams to rush for 11 rushing touchdowns on 5.2 yards per carry. In their past two games, they have allowed 744 rushing yards on 123 carries for an average of over 6 yards per carry.


If there was a game for Ellis to breakout this is it.

Oh and if the Tar Heels do slow down the run, the Cavaliers also have Kurt Benkert who is fifth in the ACC in yards and tied for second in touchdowns. Benkert would be passing against a defense that has allowed 12 passing touchdowns this season.

Things going for the Tar Heels: History. North Carolina has won the past seven times these two teams have met by an average score of 35-15.

However, the two teams are diverging in two different directions. Virginia has won their last three, while UNC has lost its last three.

Though this seems like the time for Virginia to break the streak.

Keep in mind the year 2002.

That was the year UNC went 8-20 in men’s basketball. Clemson, who had never won in Chapel Hill, came in with their best chance to end the streak. The Tigers lost by 19 and still have never won at the Hill. History is funny like that sometimes.

But let’s be clear, I had to pick history, because well there isn’t much else going on with the Tar Heels. UNC is 0-4 at home this season. The only way Virginia doesn’t end the streak is for a fired up UNC squad to play with a purpose and to execute.

Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely? I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

NC State at Pittsburgh (Saturday, October 14th @ 12:00 pm)

This will be the first time these two teams will have met since Pittsburgh joined the ACC back in 2013. The last time they met was 2009 when NC State won 38-31 in Raleigh.

Will things be different this time around in Pittsburgh?

Things going for the Panthers: NC State’s history. Since coming to State Dave Doeren has never been in this situation. How will his team respond on the road as the favorite? Remember they were underdogs at Florida State and the Louisville game was at home.

Again this is not State’s wheelhouse. Since the ACC split into division’s the highest the Wolfpack have finished is second, and they only did that once. Since 1980 they have never finished higher than second overall and only won more than 10 games once during that time.

How will the pressure affect them?

The funny thing is State has been in Pitt’s place often in the past as the home team with the chance to spoil. Often they have succeeded. Could it be the reverse this time around?

Things going against the Panthers: State’s Defense. The Wolfpack have a powerful defense that gets after the quarterback. Their 17 sacks this season ranks 3rd in the ACC and their star, Bradley Chubb, leads the ACC in sacks.

Pitt quarterbacks have been sacked a league-high 18 times. Luckily Ben Dinucci is starting for them as he has been sacked half as many times as injured starter Max Browne. However, that does come with half as many pass attempts as well.

It is hard to use the last time these two played as any kind of measure. Russell Wilson was the starting quarterback for NC State in that game and he was just a sophomore. In other words, a lot has changed since then.

Could this be a stumbling block for State? Maybe. In the past very much so, but Pitt has been lost this season. NC State would have to be looking ahead to another game for this to trip them up.

Of course, the Wolfpacks next game is against Notre Dame. So it is possible, though unlikely with a bye week in between.

One to keep an eye on: Florida State at Duke (Saturday, October 14th @ 12:00 pm)

The funny thing is that at the beginning of the season if one was to read the records of these two teams, most would assume the reverse.

Great things were expected of FSU, but an opening loss to Alabama, culminated with an injured quarterback, and infused with a hurricane has left the Seminoles as one of the season’s biggest disappointments.

Meanwhile, the Blue Devils came out roaring with a defense that has shut down teams. However, the last two games have not gone Duke’s way as they are in the midst of a two-game losing streak.

The key is which team can get it done and right the ship.

So with Virginia Tech on a bye this week, that does it for ACC Coastal teams. So sit back and relax and enjoy the football season.