Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech top ACC week
Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 13:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 4 Clemson at South Carolina. No matter what happens against their instate rivals, the Atlantic Division-champion Tigers (10-1, 7-1) are locked into the ACC title game against No. 2 Miami next week. But if Clemson wants to make the College Football Playoff for the third straight year, they need to take care of the Gamecocks (8-3) – who have won five of six and might be the toughest opponent the Tigers will have played since September.
BEST MATCHUP: Georgia Tech offense vs. Georgia defense. Paul Johnson’s version of the option always makes things tough on opposing defenses, as its 319-yard average would indicate. But the Yellow Jackets were held to 20 points – their second-lowest total of the season – by Duke, and now are facing a Georgia defense that ranks fourth nationally against the run.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Four ACC schools scored at least 50 points last week (Clemson, North Carolina, Florida State and Louisville). That’s the second time this season that at least four teams hung half a hundred on an opponent and the first time since Wake Forest, Syracuse, Clemson and Duke each did it in Week 1. For the season, ACC teams have reached the 50-point mark 14 times. Yet despite those big point totals, only one ACC team (Louisville) ranks among the top 20 nationally in scoring offense.
LONG SHOT: Could North Carolina turn the tables and spring an upset on rival North Carolina State this week? The Tar Heels (3-8, 1-6) are 15+-point road underdogs against the Wolfpack, but for the first time all season, they’ve got some semblance of momentum after consecutive wins against Pittsburgh and Western Carolina. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack might still be numb after their loss at Wake Forest last week marked by a fumble in the final minutes when they were inches from scoring the tying touchdown.
IMPACT PLAYER: Kurt Benkert nearly willed Virginia to an upset of Miami last week, helping the Cavaliers take a couple of two-touchdown leads and throwing for 384 yards and four TDs. Now comes another tough test for Benkert – a visit from No. 24 Virginia Tech and a Bud Foster defense that is allowing just over two touchdowns per game.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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