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College football picks, odds for ACC in Week 6: Clemson relying on defense in top-10 showdown with Miami

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Week 6 in the ACC sets up a key piece of the conference championship race with one of the games of the year not just in the league but in all of college football taking center stage. Not everyone had Miami at Clemson circled as one of the pivot points in the season, but after watching D’Eriq King thrive in Rhett Lashlee’s new offense, the Hurricanes are looking like an appropriate foil to the Tigers’ pursuit of a sixth-straight conference title. 

Whether the top-10 showdown between Miami and Clemson serves as a preview of a potential ACC Championship Game rematch is highly dependent on what happens elsewhere in the conference, particularly at Notre Dame, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. In that sense, Saturday’s game between the Tar Heels and the Hokies is yet another key piece to figuring out who ends up in the top two spots of the final standings in this 15-team, one-division 2020 season. It’s too early to throw out terms like “elimination game,” but that first conference loss at this point in the season can quickly have a contender on the outside looking in when it comes to the championship race.

Speaking of, we begin this week’s picks with ACC Friday night action and Louisville’s trip to Georgia Tech.

Louisville (-4.5) at Georgia Tech: Circle the wagons, back against the wall time, whatever cliche you want to use — that’s where we’re at for Louisville right now. A team that finished solo behind Clemson in the ACC Atlantic Division in Year 1 of the Scott Satterfield era returned most of its key pieces on offense and entered 2020 with hopes of contending for a conference championship. With two conference losses in September, the Cards will need to basically run the table and get some help

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College football Week 5 picks: Auburn-Georgia in top-10 SEC clash; can Texas A&M threaten Alabama?

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Jimbo Fisher is not going anywhere with seven seasons to go on his massive 10-year, $75 million deal at Texas A&M.

But at some point the Aggies need to start winning games like, say, Saturday’s showdown with Alabama and Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa, right? Right?

The answer is yes. But after what we saw last week in Texas A&M’s lackluster win over Vanderbilt, it doesn’t look like it will happen this weekend.

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Here are the Week 5 college football picks:

Get betting tips on these games at nj.com/betting/college-football

No. 13 Texas A&M at No. 2 Alabama (-18), 3:30: Roll Tide. PICK: Alabama.

Navy (-7) at Air Force, 6: This is Air Force’s season opener, and the Falcons will be shorthanded after most of its defense deferred this semester believing there would be no season. Navy should roll here. PICK: Navy.

No. 7 Auburn at No. 4 Georgia (-6.5), 7:30: The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry feels ready for an upset. Georgia was offensively-challenged against a bad Arkansas team last week while Auburn scored an impressive win over Kentucky. The Tigers grind out a low-scoring affair. PICK: Auburn.

No. 18 Oklahoma (-7) at Iowa State, 7:30: A must-win for the Sooners if they want to stay in the Big 12 title race, and a major moment for the Cyclones to finally break through. Coin flip game decided by a field goal either way. PICK: Iowa State.

Quick picks:

Louisiana Tech (+24) at No. 22 BYU, 9 (Friday)

South Carolina (+17.5) at No. 3 Florida, 12

N.C. State (+14) at No. 24 Pittsburgh, 12

Virginia (+28) at No. 1 Clemson, 8

Season