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FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2019, file photo, Alabama head coach Nick Saban prepares for a team coach photo prior to Alabama's fall camp fan-day NCAA college football scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2019, file photo, Alabama head coach Nick Saban prepares for a team coach photo prior to Alabama's fall camp fan-day NCAA college football scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)|Associated Press
NCAAF

Eckel picks ACC Football: Duke vs Alabama, East Carolina at North Carolina State

First game is noon Saturday.

Mark Eckel

East Carolina at North Carolina State (-17 1/2), noon, ACC Network

Duke vs. #2 Alabama (-33 1/2) at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, 3:30, ABC

There are seven games Saturday involving teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference. We’re only looking at two (although we’re going to watch another), because it's about quality, not quantity.

Let’s start with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide taking on Duke in a neutral site game where the Atlanta Falcons play on Sunday.

Alabama vs. the Falcons would probably be a better game.

Don’t think for a second that Saban and The Tide didn’t watch and notice Clemson roll over Georgia Tech, Thursday night, which means they are going to try to do the same against the Blue Devils.

It shouldn’t be a problem.

Heisman hopeful quarterback Tua Tagovailoa should have a monster game against a Duke defense that was average to begin with and will be without starting linebacker and leader Koby Quansh and cornerback Mark Gilbert.

The last time these two teams met Alabama won, 60-13. Expect a similar result Saturday afternoon.

The Pick: Alabama (-33)

Our other game involves the Pirates traveling across the state to take on the Wolfpack and we’re looking at an upset, or at the least a cover by the visitors.

East Carolina’s new head coach is Mike Houston, who went 37-6 with a national title and a national runner-up in three years at James Madison.

Houston will have 13 of 22 starters back, including quarterback Holton Ahlers, who as a freshman last year passed for 1,785 yards and ran for 592 yards. He also threw 12 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He’ll face a State defense that ranked 108th against the pass last season.

Also consider these little trends: The Pirates are 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 games vs. the ACC; and the underdog has covered in five of the past seven games in this matchup.

Houston is a winner and even if his Pirates don’t pull off the upset, expect them to keep it within two touchdowns.

The Pick: East Carolina (+17 1/2)

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