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Can NC State get its first ACC win?
Week 14 is the final full week of college football regular season action. Next week’s slate is an abbreviated one, focused on the conference championships and a handful of other games.
There’s no shortage of intrigue around the nation this Saturday, as the Heisman hangs in the balance, and it’s rivalry week.
Florida State-Florida, South Carolina-Clemson, Alabama-Auburn and Michigan-Ohio State are just a few of the top rivalries on tap this weekend.
Athlon’s editors are back with another edition of the upset picks, and there are plenty of teams on alert this week.
The favorites can't win every game each week, so it's no surprise one of the most popular discussion points every Saturday is upset picks. Each week on AthlonSports.com, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.
College Football Week 14 Upset Predictions
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): NC State (+2.5) over Maryland
On paper, I think it’s a light week for upset possibilities. But then again, this is rivalry week and anything can happen. NC State’s first season under new coach Dave Doeren has been a disappointment, but the future in Raleigh looks bright, especially with Jacoby Brissett eligible to start at quarterback in 2014. Even though the Wolfpack has lost six of their seven ACC games by 10 points or more, I think they knock off Maryland on Saturday. This is Maryland’s final ACC game, as a move to the Big Ten is in order next season. The Terrapins are dealing with a plethora of injuries on both sides of the ball and rank 11th in the ACC in total offense. It was no surprise Maryland's defense struggled to stop Boston College's Andre Williams last week, but the Wolfpack can test the Terrapins again with the run, as Shadrach Thornton is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and has two 100-yard efforts in ACC play. NC State’s offense found a spark late in the fourth quarter against East Carolina, and I think the Wolfpack carry that into this week’s game to send the Terrapins back to College Park with a loss in their final ACC game.
Mark Ross: East Carolina (+3) over Marshall
The Conference USA East Division crown is on the line in Huntington, West Va., Friday afternoon when Marshall (8-3) hosts East Carolina (9-2). The two are tied at 6-1 in conference play and boast not only the conference's top two offenses, but two of the most productive in the entire nation. The Thundering Herd is eighth in scoring nationally at 43.3 points per game while the Pirates are 11th at 41.5. That doesn't mean either doesn't play defense however, as ECU and Marshall are second and third, respectively, in C-USA in yards allowed. The Pirates' two losses this season are by five points to Virginia Tech and a three-point overtime setback to Tulane on the road. The Herd's three defeats have come by a total of 13 points, the biggest being a 29-21 three-overtime loss in Blacksburg, Va., to the aforementioned Hokies. What tips the scales in ECU's favor, however, is that the Pirates have gone 2-0 in their home state, having beaten both North Carolina and NC State on the road. It's been a season to remember for the Tar Heel State's unheralded football programs with Duke grabbing most of the headlines, but I also think ECU's impressive 2013 campaign will continue with a 10th win and a C-USA East Division title on Friday.
Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler): Clemson (+5) over South Carolina
Tajh Boyd is perhaps the most accomplished quarterback in Clemson history. The only thing that eludes him is a win over in-state rival South Carolina, as he's 0-3 against the Gamecocks. Boyd sits just a single win behind Rodney Williams, the program's all-time winningest quarterback. Unfortunately for Boyd, he's been caught in the wake of the machine that is Steve Spurrier. The Ole Ball Coach has owned the Tigers as of late, registering four straight wins in The Battle of the Palmetto State. However, Spurrier hasn't been nearly as dominant in this rivalry as many believe, owning just a 5-3 record against Clemson in his eight years in Columbia. Despite the disappointing results for Dabo Swinney, this is the most talented team Clemson has put together in recent memory. Despite playing in the ACC, Clemson has played two top teams in Georgia (while they were healthy) and Florida State. South Carolina, on the other hand, has played an extremely weak schedule, albeit an SEC schedule. Because the Tigers' rushing attack will be nearly non-existent, the offensive line must give Boyd time to get the ball to his playmakers downfield. A major problem that Clemson must fix is all the turnover issues that have been so devastating in these games. During their four-game losing streak, Clemson lost the turnover battle with nine giveaways and only three takeaways. I think a mature Boyd, knowing what this game means to his legacy, will be able to buy himself the necessary time and make smart decisions with the football.