Well, we had to circle back and revise this week’s picks. Two of our games – East Carolina at Virginia Tech and West Virginia at North Carolina State – were cancelled because of the hurricane and the third got moved to a neutral site.
Virginia will still play Ohio, but it’ll do so at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.
Charlottesville’s Sam Blum took over first place with a perfect 4-0 week, including hitting his upset pick – Kansas over Central Michigan.
Here are this week’s predictions.
Ohio vs. Virginia, 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville
Sam Blum, The Daily Progress (5-3): The Cavaliers lost home field advantage with the impending Hurricane Florence disrupting college football all over the state. But this game was still very important to play, if U.Va. hopes to make a bowl game this season. The Bobcats nearly lost to old friend Mike London and his Howard Bison in their opener two weeks prior, but still, Ohio is a solid team returning many of its top players. Virginia, despite losing to Indiana, showed its capability the last two weeks of beating teams that it should beat. Ohio is a team that it should beat.
PICK: Virginia 30, Ohio 20
Mike Barber, Richmond Times-Dispatch (4-4): Ohio is the MAC favorite, has a veteran line and gets to avoid playing a road game since the game has been moved to a neutral site. That said, the Bobcats struggled to get by Howard in the opener and appear unsettled at quarterback. Virginia desperately needs this game to have a real shot at going to a bowl again this year, after losing last week at Indiana. Ohio’s run defense is suspect, so this could be a big day for the duo of running back Jordan Ellis and quarterback Bryce Perkins.
PICK: Virginia 31, Ohio 24
Michael Niziolek, Roanoke Times (4 -4): Ohio is coming off a bye week after struggling to get past Howard. Howard probably would have won the game if it didn't turn the ball over five times. Virginia is coming off a tough lose to Indiana, but expect Bryce Perkins to run wild to give the Cavaliers an easy win.
PICK: Virginia 42, Ohio 14
Florida State at Syracuse, 12 p.m., Saturday, Carrier Dome, Syracuse
Blum: This is an interesting one, isn't it? Syracuse, rightfully, never beats Florida State. But FSU isn't usually this bad. Eric Dungey, when it's all said and done, might be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. After all, he's already led SU to wins over team like Clemson and VT over the last two years, both at home. With all that being said, Syracuse's defense still isn't worth picking them to beat a consistent national powerhouse. If nothing else, though, this will be a good game.
PICK: Florida State 48, Syracuse 45
Barber: These two have been two of the most surprising teams in the ACC so far. Quarterback Eric Dungey and the Orange have been a pleasant surprise, going 2-0 and Dungey throwing 7 touchdown passes. Florida State, under new coach Willie Taggart, has been a surprising disappointment, getting slapped around by Virginia Tech in the opener, then squeaking by Samford in Game 2. Syracuse coach Dino Babers said this week it’s only a matter of time before FSU “explodes” on some opponent. Unfortunately for Babers, I think he’s right.
PICK: Florida State 55, Syracuse 38
Niziolek: Florida State needed a comeback victory to spare new coach Willie Taggart of a 0-2 start. This could be the game the Seminoles starts to put together especially offensively. Syracuse is scoring points in bunches this season (averaging 58.5 points per game), but gave up 42 points to a Western Michigan team that managed just three points last week in a lose to Michigan. Florida State wins a shootout.
PICK: Florida State 49, Syracuse 35
Duke at Baylor, 3:30 p.m., Saturday, McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas
Blum: Both teams enter this game at 2-0. Baylor hasn't had a steep test yet, while the Blue Devils took down Northwestern on the road last week. Duke is now playing a repeat game from the year before for the third straight week, and is looking to take down Baylor for a second consecutive season. The Bears have a strong offense, and Duke held NW to just seven points a week before.
PICK: Duke 27, Baylor 21
Barber: Duke had vaulted itself into the discussion to be the Coastal Division champion after opening with wins over Army and Northwestern. That talk died down some after news broke that quarterback Daniel Jones and cornerback Mark Gilbert both suffered injuries last game. Jones is out indefinitely and Gilbert is done for the year. David Cutcliffe will find a way to coach around those injuries and compete, but it won’t be enough this week.
PICK: Baylor 31, Duke 17
Niziolek: Duke could be without its starting quarterback Daniel Jones this weekend. The injury could put the game on the Blue Devils run game, which might not be a bad thing considering Baylor is giving up six yards per carry on the ground. Baylor has already doubled its win total from a year ago. The teams met last year with Duke winning 34-20 expect the reverse to happen in Texas this weekend.
PICK: Baylor 35, Duke 24
Upset of the week
Blum: In keeping up with the spirit of Vanderbilt this week, while Virginia is playing a game in their stadium, they'll be on the road at Notre Dame. The Commodores are looking to start 3-0 against a UND team that struggled at time against Ball State last week.
PICK: Vanderbilt 31, Notre Dame 30
Barber: Southern Cal and Texas have each lost once this season. The Longhorns are 3.5 point favorites playing at home but it’s hard for me to get out of my head how bad they looked in the opening loss to Maryland. And, honestly, Tom Herman’s bunch didn’t exactly erase that memory in sneaking past Tulsa in Week 2.
PICK: USC 27, Texas 24
Niziolek: Wake Forest hosts Boston College as a touchdown underdog. Wake Forest beat its ACC rival 34-10 on the road last year. Boston College starting quarterback Anthony Brown threw three interceptions in the loss. He should be better this year, but this will be his first true test after suffering a season-ending knee injury last season.
PICK: Wake Forest 31, Boston College 28