We already know who will play in next week’s ACC title game. But that doesn’t mean we’re overlooking some of the heated rivalries taking place this weekend. Here’s what to keep an eye on. All times Eastern.
Miami (7-4, 4-3 ACC) at Pitt (8-3, 6-1 ACC), ESPN2
A 10-win season is still in sight for Pat Narduzzi’s first Pitt team. The road team has won the past two meetings in this series since the Panthers joined the ACC. Miami’s only ACC losses are to its top three teams: Clemson, North Carolina and Florida State. Pitt’s only losses, overall, are to undefeated Iowa, one-loss Notre Dame and one-loss Coastal champion UNC.
Georgia (8-3, 5-3 SEC) at Georgia Tech (3-8, 1-7 ACC), ESPN2
The hype around this game is considerably smaller this year, especially after the worst Yellow Jackets season of the Paul Johnson era. Still, last year’s overtime finish was memorable, and if we’ve learned anything about these rivalries, it is to expect the unexpected.
Louisville (6-5, 5-3 ACC) at Kentucky (5-6, 2-6 SEC), SEC Network
Bowl eligibility is on the line for the Wildcats, who have not beaten the Cardinals since 2010. Louisville’s defense is in need of a rebound after getting lit up for 42 points by Pitt last week … in the first half.
Clemson (11-0, 8-0 ACC) at South Carolina (3-8, 1-7 SEC), ESPN
My, the Tigers have come a long way in this one, huh? Deshaun Watson helped them snap a five-game losing streak to the Gamecocks in last year’s rout, and now South Carolina is all that stands between Clemson and an undefeated regular season. The ACC title and a chance to play for the national title await, but first Clemson must win the state title against its reeling rival.
Virginia Tech (5-6, 3-4 ACC) at Virginia (4-7, 3-4 ACC), ESPNU
Is this it for Frank Beamer? The Hokies need to beat their rival to give their 29th-year head coach one more game on the sidelines. Also at stake: Virginia Tech’s 11 straight wins over Virginia, along with the Hokies’ 22-year bowl streak. One cannot help but wonder if Mike London and the Hoos would be bowling this year had they played an easier nonconference schedule.
Boston College (3-8, 0-7 ACC) at Syracuse (3-8, 1-6 ACC), ESPN3
The old Big East rivals square off in a battle for pride at the Carrier Dome. This will be Scott Shafer’s finale after the third-year Orange coach was fired Monday, effective at the end of the season, in light of Syracuse’s eight-game losing streak. The Eagles, meanwhile, will look to build off their promising performance in a three-point loss to Notre Dame and try to notch their first ACC win.
Duke (6-5, 3-4 ACC) at Wake Forest (3-8, 1-6 ACC), ESPN3
The Blue Devils have simply not looked the same since their controversial loss to Miami on Halloween, as they are mired in a four-game losing streak. The Demon Deacons are hoping to improve upon last year’s win total after their murderer’s row slate from the past two weeks, at Notre Dame and at Clemson.
North Carolina (10-1, 7-0 ACC) at NC State (7-4, 3-4 ACC), ABC
The Tar Heels need to make a statement to keep their playoff hopes alive, and they should be chomping at the bit for this one after the rival Wolfpack beat them by 28 last year in Chapel Hill. The Pack will look to play the role of spoiler after picking on the bottom of the Atlantic Division all year, having beaten Wake, BC and Syracuse.
Florida State (9-2, 6-2 ACC) at Florida (10-1, 7-1 SEC), ESPN
FSU may not enter this one with an unblemished mark, as it had the past two years, but there is still plenty at stake in this rivalry. The Seminoles could be playing for a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl. And they could be playing the role of spoiler for the Gators, who may still have playoff hopes should they survive Saturday and upset Alabama the following week in the SEC title game. Welcome to the rivalry, Jim McElwain.