2017 ACC Football: Three impact Coastal Division games in week 8

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 14: Andrew Brown
CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 14: Andrew Brown /

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

Last week, there were 13 undefeated teams. Additionally, there were no games being played between undefeated or ranked squads, so this week there should’ve still been 13 undefeated teams.

Unfortunately for those unbeaten teams, last week was complete chaos.

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So, instead of 13 unblemished records, this week we are down to eight. And for the third straight week, none of those schools play each other.

Unlike last week, though, we do have some top-25 matchups. One is between two Big 10 squads in Michigan and Penn State. The other is a non-conference showdown between two top-15 teams in USC and Notre Dame.

Both games will have huge impacts on the College Football Playoff picture.

So, with all the national games taken care of, let’s dive into the three impact games in the ACC Coastal Division, starting with the first of two interdivisional games this weekend.

Pittsburgh at Duke (Saturday, October 21st @ 12:20 pm)

Duke and Pitt are each in the midst of a losing streak. Duke has lost three straight, while Pitt has lost five of their last six, including two straight. Both teams are looking to get back on the winning track this week. Which one can get the job done?

Things going for the Panthers: History. Since joining the ACC, Pitt has struggled to beat UNC, going 0-4. However, that is not the case against Duke. The Panthers are 3-1 against the Blue Devils, with the only loss coming by three points in triple overtime.

The past two contests have also been particularly one-sided, with Pitt winning by a combined score of 87-29.

Things going for the Blue Devils: Pitt’s defense. The Panther defense currently ranks 107th nationally in yards per game allowed. They’re ranked 111th against the pass and 87th against the run. They also allow 31.4 points per game, which is tied for 98th.

Duke’s three FBS wins this year have come against teams that rank, on average, 100th in yards allowed and 93rd in points allowed. In other words, Pitt.

Here is the thing about history, though. It is only relevant until it isn’t. Just ask the Chicago Cubs or the Cleveland Cavaliers, or even Virginia after beating UNC last week for the first time in eight years.

Pitt is the kind of team that Duke beats and there is no reason to see any change in that unless the Blue Devils really are broken and not just not as good as everyone thought.

North Carolina at Virginia Tech (Saturday, October 21st @ 3:30 pm)

Since joining the ACC, the Hokies have been one of the few teams to completely dominate the Tar Heels. Last season was no different, as the two teams faced off as one-loss squads, with the Hokies winning 34-3.

Will the trend continue or will UNC be able to pull off the upset?

Things going for the Tar Heels: Good weather. Last season the score was aided by the effects of a tropical storm. It made passing the ball nearly impossible and worked greatly in the Hokies favor.

The weather forecast for Blacksburg this weekend looks a lot better for the game this year. Though there will likely be at least partly cloudy skies, there is only a ten percent chance for rain and a high in the mid-70s.

This should make for a fairly even playing field Saturday afternoon.

CHAPEL HILL, NC – OCTOBER 14: Michael Carter
CHAPEL HILL, NC – OCTOBER 14: Michael Carter /

Things going for the Hokies: The UNC defense. As bad as Pitt’s defense has been, the Tar Heels have been worse. They rank 114th nationally in total yards allowed, including 79th against the pass and 115th against the run.

The Hokies are one of the better passing teams in the nation, ranking 26th in passing yards per game. Josh Jackson is the top-rated passer in the ACC, while Cam Phillips ranks second in the ACC in receiving yards and fifth in receptions.

I mentioned that Virginia Tech has caused problems for North Carolina most seasons. In fact, the Tar Heels are 3-10 against the Hokies since they joined the league back in 2004.

Additionally, only one of those wins came against Virginia Tech when they were ranked. Coming off a bye week, the Hokies should win this game in a route.

Wake Forest at Georgia Tech (Saturday, October 21st @ 7:30 pm)

Georgia Tech and Wake Forest are both looking for wins coming off of losses. Which team gets that all important ‘W’ this weekend?

Things going for the Yellow Jackets: The run game. I have mentioned this before, but the Yellow Jackets like to run the ball and they still do it better than any other Power Five school.

Georgia Tech ranks third in the FBS in run game with 362 rushing yards per game. That is nearly 20 yards per game more than the next closest Power Five school and more than 140 yards per game more than the next closest ACC school.

Things going against the Yellow Jackets: Wake Forest’s scoring defense. The Demon Deacons have been a pretty good defensive team this year. Their two losses came to FSU and Clemson, and they had a chance to beat the Seminoles.

Where Wake has been the best, though, is keeping teams off the scoreboard. The Demon Deacons rank 12th nationally, allowing only 16.7 points per game. The Tigers have the most points scored this season at 28.

Wake doesn’t allow points and that’s how they keep it close, giving their offense a chance to win.

Is Georgia Tech up for this one after losing another game by one point, this time to Miami? Wake Forest is coming off a bye and Coach Dave Clawson undoubtedly used that time to prepare for the triple-option.

If the Yellow Jackets can control the clock and find the end zone, they should win. If they struggle to do either, Wake may prove that the Atlantic is just that much more superior to the Coastal after all.

One to keep an eye on: Syracuse at Miami (Saturday, October 21st @ 3:30 pm)

Syracuse is coming off an upset of a top-10 team. Miami is coming off a one-point home win against Georgia Tech. Can Miami continue to find ways to win or can Syracuse pull another improbable win two weeks in a row?

The only other game this week is Virginia against Boston College. Virginia is trying to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2011, and would do so with a win against the Eagles.

By my count, that’s seven teams which does it for ACC Coastal teams. So, sit back and relax and enjoy the football this weekend.