It’s ACC/SEC Rivalry week. Most years this is the ACC’s opportunity to gain a measure of respect against the SEC. This year has a totally different feel. Beating SEC teams is becoming common place. Just this year SEC teams have gone down to football heavy weights like Memphis, Toledo, Texas Tech, and Houston. This was after SEC West largely considered the best division in college football, was washed away during bowl season in 2014, but these are still bragging rights rivalry games.
With 4 games against any power 5 conference, it is still a source of accomplishment to go 3-1 or 4-0. This year the games have several underlying stories we’ll look at.
Let’s go through each one…
Clemson (11-0) vs South Carolina (3-8)
The Tigers are the #1 team in the nation facing a reeling South Carolina team that just to the Citadel. Clemson is only playing to stay in the College Football Playoff race while South Carolina is struggling to it’s worst season in more than a decade. Clemson losing this game would be unimaginably bad. For the Gamecocks to ruin the Tigers chase for the national title would be epic disaster.
That should give Clemson a healthy fear of not necessarily losing to the Gamecocks, but of what losing to them would mean.
Clemson is just better than South Carolina, and should move within 1 game of playing in the College Football Playoff. Clemson has bigger fish to fry than South Carolina this year, but they have to win this game first.
Prediction : Clemson 38 South Carolina 14
Georgia Tech (3-8) vs Georgia (8-3)
Outside of the win over Florida State, it’s been a nightmare season for Georgia Tech. Injuries on top of injuries and then even more injuries have decimated the Yellow Jackets to team that’s virtually unrecognizable from the beginning of the season. The roster is loaded with 3rd stringers and freshman playing in the starting lineup. Paul Johnson has made his share of mistakes as well, and the combination has resulted in the Yellow Jackets being the most disappointing team in the ACC.
I hope they win, I’d love to see it, but it’s hard to see. Frankly if you’re Georgia Tech just don’t get anyone seriously hurt and forget about 2015. What could go wrong did go wrong.
Prediction : Georgia Tech 20 Georgia 31
Louisville (6-5) vs Kentucky (5-6)
If the first two ACC/SEC rivalry games are likely to be lopsided affairs, the last two are toss ups. If you’re Louisville how good would it make you feel to keep Kentucky from being bowl eligible. Mark Stoops tenure at Kentucky has pretty much been a bust, and Louisville wants to keep it that way.
The Cardinals have had an uneven year that is leaning towards the disappointing side which in part can be salvaged with a win Saturday. Louisville has won 6 of their 8 games, losing only Florida State and Pittsburgh, and the offense is trending up after an inconsistent start. Kentucky isn’t as good as Pitt or Florida State. Ruin Kentucky’s season while going 7-2 to finish the regular season would sound awfully to good Louisville fans.
Prediction : Louisville 27 Kentucky 23
Florida State (9-2) vs Florida (10-1)
If there’s a game where the ACC really put a dent in the SEC, it would be this one. The second or third best team in the ACC playing the second best team in the SEC. With a win Florida State can accomplish several things. They can officially eliminate any faint hopes the Gators have of still reaching the playoffs. The Seminoles would probably ensure themselves a trip to a Big 6 Bowl.
In a rebuidling year the Noles would go 10-2 and reach a Big 6. That’s pretty impressive. Oh winning a 3rd straight from Florida and 5th in their last 6 games would have FSU feeling pretty nice too.
Prediction : Florida State 24 Florida 13