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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 Matrix says Pac-12 playoff hopes caught in numbers game vs. SEC and ACC

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Dave Bartoo — known as the “College Football Matrix” — joined me on the radio show on Monday to talk about the Pac-12 football schedule.

Does the conference have a realistic shot at making the College Football Playoff based on the schedule it released over the weekend?

Listen to the full interview with Bartoo.

“The playoff committee is all about numbers,” Bartoo said. “It’s a numbers game. It’s not about perception, or brand. It’s about winning the most vs. Top 25 games.”

On the Ducks playing their crossover game vs. UCLA:

“Unless UCLA somehow gets to 4-3, there have zero value. I would have much rather seen ASU or Utah there if you’re Oregon and trying to get to the playoff.”

On the Big 12 Conference still being very much alive in the playoff talk:

“The Big 12 perception is Oklahoma and Texas. Both look terrible. The conference is down. The nice thing about the playoff committee though is perception isn’t part of it. It’s a numbers game. From a perception standpoint everybody thinks the conference is down. From a reality standpoint, conferences don’t make playoffs, teams do… there are teams that are still involved in the Big 12 who are playoff contenders, it’s just not the ones we expected.”

On a one-loss ACC or SEC team vs. a 7-0 Pac-12 team for a playoff spot:

“If you’re Georgia and 10-1 and you just lost to Alabama in a close game in the SEC title game. Margin of loss is tiny. You kicked the crap out of everyone else. You have a win over a Top 25 Florida, a win over Top 25 Auburn, and you have a win over a Top 25 Tennessee and you have a quality win over Missouri. Even though they’re 10-1, they could be 9-2,

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ACC makes its move in Top 25 college football poll

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Oklahoma dropped out of The Associated Press college football poll for the first time since September 2016 and No. 24 Iowa State jumped back into the Top 25 after a day of upsets. There largely was stability at the top of the rankings Sunday after No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia, and No. 4 Florida all won big, though the Bulldogs and Gators switched spots. Clemson received 52 first-place votes and Alabama got eight from the panel of writers and broadcasters. Overall, five teams dropped out of the Top 25 after eight ranked teams lost Saturday, six to unranked opponents. The Sooners were involved in one of those upsets, losing, 37-30, at Iowa State for the first time since 1960. Oklahoma’s first two-game, regular-season losing streak in 21 years snapped its string of 64 straight poll appearances. The Sooners will head into their Red River rivalry game against Texas next Saturday as an unranked team for the first time since 2005. The 22nd-ranked Longhorns managed to hold on to a spot in the rankings, falling 13 spots after losing at home to TCU. North Carolina, which escaped a visit to Boston College, 26-22, moved up four spots to No. 8 to match its best ranking since 2015. For the first time, the Atlantic Coast Conference has four teams ranked in the top 10, with UNC joined by Clemson, No. 5 Notre Dame, and No. 7 Miami. Only twice before in the history of the 77-year-old conference have four ACC teams reached the top 10 in the same season: 2016 and 2004. Notre Dame is a temporary member of the conference and two Power Five conferences, four FBS overall, have not even started playing. UCF took the biggest fall among the five teams to drop out of the