If there's a week that could cast doubt on the preseason chalk of Clemson/Florida State and Miami/Virginia Tech, this might be it. Georgia Tech, Maryland and North Carolina (if we're being generous) all have opportunities to assert themselves as contenders. And if you're a Pitt fan, anything that messes with the inevitability especially of the Hokies and Hurricanes could be a heartening sign.
All games are Saturday this week.
In the Coastal
- If Georgia Tech has any designs on winning this division, it's going to have to get past Miami this weekend (3:30 p.m., ESPNU). The Yellow Jackets rolled up the offense en route to a 3-0 start, but last week's 10-point, 273-yard performance in a loss at home to Virginia Tech means they need this win to have a tiebreaker advantage on at least one of the top two contenders for the Coastal crown. Fortunately for GT, the Hurricanes didn't look that impressive last week against South Florida's feckless Bulls, and Tech's defense was stout in the loss, conceding just 17 points and fewer than 300 total yards. It's hard to see Miami running away with this provided the Wreck gets back to something resembling the scoring it got in its first three games.
- The good news for North Carolina is a win against Virginia Tech (12:30 p.m., ESPN3) evens its conference record and keeps it very much alive in the Coastal race. The bad news is the Heels are 1-3 and just watched East Carolina hang 55 on them. The Hokies are nothing special offensively. Through four games, they're 94th nationally in scoring offense at 23.2 points per game. But UNC is going to have to prove it can stop someone before it even starts thinking about a bowl game, let lone division title.
- Virginia's defense proved again last week that it can keep that miserable offense in games. If the Hoos are to go bowling, though, they probably need this one against a 4-1 Ball State team (noon, ESPN3). Drop this one, and the schedule math isn't good.
In The Atlantic
- Maryland's schedule to this point suggests its 4-0 start could be mirage-y, but after Florida State's defense had an unimpressive showing in giving up 34 to Boston College (!!!) last weekend, it's hard not to see this as one of the more intriguing games we'll see in the conference all year (noon, ESPN). Seneca Valley graduate C.J. Brown is a handful in the pocket and on the run, a dual threat quarterback the Seminoles definitely haven't see yet. And even if it can contain the Terps' offense a little, Florida State still has to deal with a Maryland defense yielding just 10.3 points per game to this point. There are still a lot of reasons to like FSU here, but don't count out Maryland's chances of turning this division race on its head.
Elsewhere: Boston College hosts Army (1 p.m., ESPN3), Wake Forest is home against N.C. State (3:30 p.m., ESPN3) and Clemson gets Syracuse at the dome (3:30 p.m., ABC).