During the broadcast and in the aftermath of Notre Dame's epic 47-40 double-overtime win against Clemson, historical lines were being drawn to another epic moment in Fighting Irish football history. On Nov. 13, 1993, another defending ACC champion and No. 1 team in the AP poll was in town for a late-season battle of undefeated teams. It was one of the many games to receive "Game of the Century" promotion and it delivered on the hype, with Notre Dame jumping out to an early lead and defending it down to the last play of the game in a 31-24 win.
But the pursuit of a national championship during that 1993 season, which was apparent after a promotion in the polls, came crashing down the following week when Boston College nailed a game-winning field goal as time expired to log a 41-39 victory. So now after taking down No. 1 Clemson and jumping into the driver's seat for the ACC Championship Game and a College Football Playoff berth, who happens to be up next on the schedule? That's right, Boston College.
This isn't just any Boston College team, either. This is the same Eagles team that nearly knocked off No. 1 Clemson in Death Valley two weeks ago. Phil Jurkovec, a transfer from Notre Dame, has given the Eagles their best passing attack in years, and Jeff Hafley has proven to be one of the best hires of last year's coaching carousel. While not ranked in the polls like that No. 17 Boston College team that beat Notre Dame in 1993, the 2020 Eagles have already proven they can hang with the best teams in the country. So while Notre Dame has to avoid a letdown after the emotional high of beating Clemson, it also has to avoid letting history repeat itself.
Week 11 ACC odds, picks
No. 9 Miami at Virginia Tech (-2.5): This is a "because college football" kind of pick, following the lead of the oddsmakers and expecting something unexpected. Miami is a top-10 team with its only loss coming to Clemson, and it's led by one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country. So why is that team an underdog as it faces a Virginia Tech squad that's 4-3 and just lost to Liberty? The Hurricanes barely avoided the road upset last week, and I think it might catch up to them this week. Since Miami won a game it seemed to have lost and Virginia Tech lost a game it seemed to have won, I'm saying it all gets balanced in Blacksburg. Pick: Virginia Tech -2.5
Wake Forest at North Carolina (-13.5): Mack Brown said after the loss to Virginia that he believes he will be judged first and foremost by how the Tar Heels perform against NC State, Duke and Wake Forest. That deflection of attention worked because the team followed up the loss to the Wahoos with a quick and efficient dispatching of Duke. Following up with the third win in that group -- to claim the "state championship" -- will be much tougher because Wake Forest, unlike Duke, has been playing winning football for more than a month. North Carolina's offense will continue to score, but so will Wake's. Pick: Over 66
No. 2 Notre Dame (-13.5) at Boston College: Did I mention it's the Red Bandana game? Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill may not be packed like other top-billed games in Boston College's history, but there is a long list of visitors who have seen their seasons take a dramatic turn based on what happened on their trip to face the Eagles. Notre Dame should be happy to get out of this game with a win by any margin. Pick: Boston College +13.5
Louisville at Virginia (-3): A pair of two-loss teams facing off in a game where neither has really found their footing or established consistency across multiple weeks. It's with very little confidence that I'll take the better offense catching points, but especially since the game had to be postponed because of COVID-19 issues on the Cardinals roster I'd stay far away from this game from a wagering perspective. Pick: Louisville +3
Pittsburgh (-6.5) at Georgia Tech: Pat Narduzzi has a profitable against-the-spread record for games that range between -3.5 and +3.5. For whatever reason, his best spot -- from a betting perspective -- is in games that are expected to be decided in that seven-point margin. It's likely a reflection of Pitt's excellent defenses under Narduzzi and how the Panthers can control the flow of those close, competitive games with complimentary football. This spread falls just outside that window and is a little too much for me to feel confident considering the way Pitt's offense has played in scoring opportunities for most of the year. Rolling up on Florida State was a great win to snap a losing streak, but it's not enough to inspire confidence in laying nearly a whole touchdown. Pick: Georgia Tech +6.5
Florida State at NC State (-7): Every week feels like bowl season from here on out when it comes to picking winners. How mentally and emotionally invested are these rosters at this point in the season? We all become armchair sports psychologists trying to gauge how the stakes and recent results might impact future performances, knowing the immense strain that the 2020 season has taken on these teams. Florida State-NC State seems like a "who wants it more" matchup, with the Seminoles coming off a lopsided loss to Pitt and the Wolfpack getting their upset-minded heart ripped out by Miami. I'll take the team that's shown more competitive fire in recent weeks. Pick: NC State -7
Last week: 4-2 | 2020 season: 28-29
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): No change at the top for me, even though Notre Dame has taken over the top spot in the standings and now hold the inside track to the ACC Championship Game. The Tigers played well enough to win, but I still think this is the better team between the two conference title and College Football Playoff hopefuls.
2. Notre Dame (2): What was entrenched by last week's results is how the Irish are much closer to Clemson than the third best team in the ACC. These two are national championship contenders operating a noticeable tier higher than everyone else in the league, and I think that will continue to be recognized in the coming weeks.
3. Miami (3): Shaky hold on No. 3 here for the Hurricanes after a near-upset on the road against NC State. D'Eriq King was the best player on the field with his five touchdown, no interception performance, and if he continues to play that way he can carry Miami all the way to the finish line as an ACC title contender. The team as a whole, though, is showing some cracks.
4. North Carolina (5): The Tar Heels clicked back into gear after that disappointing showing at Virginia last week with a thumping of rival Duke. The mistakes in the two close losses on the resume continue to haunt their overall contention for an ACC title, but the day-to-day still looks really good thanks to the league's best offense.
5. Boston College (4): It's hard to blame the Eagles for a less-than-stellar performance in a sandwich spot at Syracuse in between Clemson and Notre Dame. They won, so there's not a major adjustment in the rankings. But when we're talking top four spots, you can't beat the last-place team by a field goal and expect to hold your position.
6. Wake Forest (7): The Demon Deacons haven't lost a game since Sept. 19 and have been playing terrific football during the four-game winning streak that includes hanging 40 points on Virginia and taking down Virginia Tech as a double-digit underdog. North Carolina is a winnable game for Dave Clawson's group, and I guarantee they spent the off week preparing with belief that an upset is in the cards for this weekend.
7. NC State (8): A great game plan for Miami came up short because the Wolfpack just did not have an answer for D'Eriq King. It was inspiring to see that effort coming out of the off week as the calendar turns into November and starting quarterback Devin Leary remains sidelined, but now the challenge to keep that level of compete high with Florida State visiting Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday night.
8. Virginia Tech (6): There's one chance to quickly erase the awful memories of Saturday's loss to Liberty, and it's this weekend with top-10 Miami coming to Blacksburg. A win goes a long way to balance a boat that is entering some choppy waters, while a loss only increases the unrest in the Hokie fanbase.