Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 9:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 22 North Carolina State at Syracuse. One of these two Atlantic Division teams will earn bowl eligibility this weekend when the Wolfpack (5-1, 2-1) visit the Orange (5-2, 2-2). The big question is whether N.C. State can muster enough emotional energy after the Wolfpack were blown out by No. 2 Clemson in a game they’d been focused on all year. The Orange, who rank ninth nationally in scoring at 42.6 ppg, are coming off a double-overtime victory over North Carolina that followed two losses that came by a total of 11 points.
Boston College’s rushing offense vs. Miami’s run defense. This depends on the status of Eagles RB AJ Dillon. The ACC’s preseason player of the year has been sidelined since Sept. 29 with an ankle injury but would lead the conference at 130 yards per game if he had played in enough games to qualify. BC ranks third in the conference in rushing (226.9 ypg) but is facing the league’s third-best run defense, with the Hurricanes allowing 106 ypg on the ground.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Several ACC schools have been effective at chasing quarterbacks. Six teams rank among the top 20 in the Bowl Subdivision in sacks per game, with three teams — Florida State, Boston College and Miami — tied for third at 3.57. North Carolina is tied for eighth while Syracuse and Clemson are tied for 18th.
Pittsburgh might be worth watching as a 2½-point home underdog against a Duke team that has beaten the Panthers only once since they joined the ACC. Pitt had a week to get past its close loss at No. 3 Notre Dame while the Blue Devils are coming off a 28-14 loss to Virginia that effectively put the Coastal Division title out of reach.
When Florida State hosts Clemson, Seminoles DE Brian Burns will try to prove that the best defensive linemen on the field won’t all be wearing Tiger orange. Burns had two sacks last week against Wake Forest, giving him nine on the season, and he ranks second nationally with 1.29 sacks per game. His challenge this week is to find a way through the Clemson offensive line to get to freshman QB Trevor Lawrence.
Source: The Associated Press