A look at things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference during Week 4 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 22 Clemson at No. 1 Florida State. Last year’s showcase matchup of top-five teams in Death Valley quickly turned into a show of Seminoles’ dominance on their way to winning the national championship. Saturday’s rematch lacks the same hype with FSU (2-0) opening as a 19 1/2-point favorite in a key Atlantic Division matchup, but that was before the school suspended Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston for the first half as punishment for making an obscene public comment on campus this week. What must Clemson (1-1) do to avoid a replay of last year’s 51-14 debacle? ”Well, we’ve got a lot we’ve got to do better,” coach Dabo Swinney said, ”that’s for sure.”
BEST MATCHUP: Virginia Tech’s run defense vs. Georgia Tech’s option attack. The Hokies struggled to stop East Carolina’s Shane Carden and the Pirates pass-heavy offense in a loss last week. Now Bud Foster’s defense tries to regroup with an offense that will keep the ball primarily on the ground, though Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said his team must find some big plays in the passing game, too. ”We’re going to try to do what we do,” Johnson said. ”We’ll take our shots throwing the ball when we think we’ve got a shot.”
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INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The ”Triangle” schools of Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State are unbeaten at 8-0. That marks the first time those teams were unbeaten after Week 3 in the ACC season since going 7-0 in 1994, according to STATS. The Blue Devils and Wolfpack are both 3-0, while the Tar Heels are 2-0 and coming off a bye week.
LONG SHOT: Duke could be due for a hiccup against a Tulane team that entered the week as a 17-point underdog. The Green Wave have intercepted five passes in three games and could test Duke QB Anthony Boone, who has yet to be picked off in 106 attempts this season. And there’s always the chance the Blue Devils could look past Tulane and ahead to next week’s ACC opener at Miami.
IMPACT PLAYER: Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy has provided an immediate jolt for the Eagles (2-1). The graduate transfer from Florida ran for a career-high 191 yards in last week’s upset of USC and ranks eighth nationally with 401 yards rushing heading into this week’s game against Maine. ”He’s competed really hard in every game,” BC coach Steve Addazio said. ”He’s a guy that carries his team. He’s a leader.”
Compiled by AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard and Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.