Home Sports Headlines College football odds, picks for Week 10 in ACC: Clemson ready to shine in the spotlight again vs. Notre Dame

College football odds, picks for Week 10 in ACC: Clemson ready to shine in the spotlight again vs. Notre Dame

by Ryan

One of the biggest games of this college football season also happens to be one of the most important games in ACC when No. 1 Clemson travels to play No. 4 Notre Dame on Saturday in South Bend. 

The contest is only the sixth matchup of AP top five teams in league history, and the first since Deshaun Watson and the Tigers, then ranked No. 5, took down Lamar Jackson and No. 3 Louisville 42-36 en route to a national championship in 2016. There is some good news for the Fighting Irish in the ACC record books as the lower-ranked team has won four of the five meetings, but none of those previous AP top five ACC showdowns have involved the No. 1 team in the country.

Clemson may not have Trevor Lawrence in the lineup, but it’s still being treated like the ACC juggernaut it has become by entering as a 5.5-point road favorite. Oddsmakers seem unmoved by the prospect of a true freshman quarterback in his first road start against a veteran-led Fighting Irish defense or the injuries that continue to pile up for Clemson on defense. Maybe it’s a misread or maybe it’s an acknowledgement of how this Tigers team has performed on the biggest stages over the last five or six years. We’ll get into the picks for that game and the rest of the ACC slate below, along with the weekly top-half power rankings. 

Week 10 ACC odds, picks

Friday — No. 11 Miami (-10) at NC State: The Hurricanes are still sitting in a good spot to contend for the ACC Championship Game and get another shot at Clemson in December, but they cannot afford another conference loss down the stretch and maintain that position. The offense hasn’t looked great the last couple of games, so hopefully the off week helped D’Eriq King and that group get on the same page. This isn’t an upset alert spot, but given the way that offense has looked recently, I don’t think we can trust Miami as a double-digit road favorite on a Friday night. I’m looking for the NC State defense to show up and play with heightened energy, giving the Wolfpack the cover. Pick: NC State +10

No. 25 Liberty at Virginia Tech (-14.5): This game features two of the top rushers in the entire country with Virginia Tech running back Khalil Herbert and Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, and my hunch is the defenses will provide the assistance in making this a high-scoring in-state affair. Virginia Tech’s win last week against Louisville may serve as a nice preview for the rhythms of the contest, since the Hokies wen’t up 21-0 early in the first half only to trade touchdowns the rest of the way in a 42-35 victory. Virginia Tech should have no trouble scoring on Liberty, a team whose defensive statistical profile is boosted by a weak strength of schedule, and Willis is productive enough as a runner to keep the points coming even in garbage time, Pick: Over 67.5

North Carolina (-10.5) at Duke: We saw a great bounce-back performance from Duke after an idle week, returning to action with a 50-burger against Charlotte. North Carolina enters with a far different energy following its second three-point road loss to an unranked team this season. But if too much time is spent thinking about how the Tar Heels are a couple of field goals away from being 6-0, then this becomes a tricky spot in terms of covering the big number. I think the loss refocuses North Carolina and we see strong performances the next two games out, both against in-state opponents, to bring the team back on track heading into a tough finish against Notre Dame and Miami. Pick: North Carolina -10.5 

Boston College (-14) at Syracuse: We can offer full-throated encouragement for Jeff Hafley as one of the best hires of last year’s cycle and the front-runner for Coach of the Year in the ACC while also thinking that this team is in a tricky spot after falling short in the upset effort at Clemson. And not only is it a letdown spot, but it’s the latest data point for the “Clemson Body Blow Theory” which has seen ACC teams struggle after facing the Tigers. Boston College should still win against a Syracuse team that’s as thin as an FCS team from a depth perspective, but still a tricky spot to be laying two touchdowns. Pick: Syracuse +14 

Pitt (-2.5) at Florida State: I don’t like the mojo around Pitt right now, so it takes a lot of guts to trust them to get it done in Tallahassee. The Panthers are on a four-game losing streak and one of their best defensive players, All-American safety Paris Ford, just opted out for the remainder of the season. The Pitt defensive line is still one of the best in the ACC, but this is a motivational pick. Mike Norvell and his staff have to know this a great opportunity to get right with a home win after a dud of a performance at Louisville two weeks ago. Pick: Florida State +2.5

No. 1 Clemson (-5.5) at No. 4 Notre Dame: Earlier this season, we talked about Big Game Dabo and Clemson’s trends to the under in regular-season matchups against fellow ranked teams. Unfortunately I think the total has already been impacted by the absence of Trevor Lawrence. The score I’m working with right now is 31-24 Tigers, which would clear the posted total by a field goal. Notre Dame is operating with a ton of confidence right now — not just as a team but a program as a whole — and I think this is going to be a classic of a game, but winning these games is what Clemson does best. I’d be on the home dog if this spread was more than a touchdown, but I really think the Tigers win, so I’ll lay the handful of points. Pick: Clemson -5.5 

Elite Eight 

Each week, we’ll be offering these top-half power rankings for the 15-team, one-division ACC. Results matter, but won’t match the standings necessarily as we look to identify the teams that have the best chance to contend for one of the top two spots (by winning percentage) and play for the conference championship in December. 

1. Clemson (Last week — 1): Will the Tigers lose No. 1 on Saturday night? It’s possible even if they lose they’re still the best team in the ACC. 

2. Notre Dame (2): I really love the fact that the Fighting Irish aren’t doing the “it’s just another game” song and dance we see so often in college football. They know Saturday night against Clemson is a special opportunity, and they are treating it as such. 

3. Miami (3): Friday night would be a great time for the Hurricanes to turn in a strong road effort to get refocused heading into the final stretch of the season. With no head-to-head against Notre Dame, Miami can’t afford another loss and four of the final five games are against teams listed here in the Elite Eight. 

4. Boston College (5): Overreaction to the near upset? Darn right. Phil Jurkovec and this Eagles passing attack is no joke, and you could argue that getting a little conservative in the second half contributed to the scoreless performance after halftime (though Clemson’s defense deserves plenty of credit as well). Even though Boston College has losses to North Carolina and Virginia Tech, I think a one-week surge to the top of the middle tier is deserved after last week’s effort in Death Valley. 

5. North Carolina (4): You could drop the Tar Heels as far as No. 7 after that disappointing performance against Virginia, but most of this disappointment is coming as a comparison to where Mack Brown’s squad could be with some cleaner play in its two losses. Arguably the best offense in the ACC, yes, but not quite ready to be the ACC championship contender we were looking for earlier this season. 

6. Virginia Tech (7): Strong response after a really poor and mistake-filled performance against Wake Forest. The Hokies came out and jumped all over Louisville early, then stopmed the foot on the gas to keep the Cards at arms length through the second half. 

7. Wake Forest (6): The flip-flop with the Hokies is more a result of Virginia Tech having a good answer to the disappointing showing in a loss to the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest has great opportunities to jump up closer to the top five with North Carolina coming to Winston-Salem on Nov. 14. 

8. NC State (8): The Wolfpack were off last week, so no change in their ranking. 

Dropped from the rankings: None

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