A look at things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference during Week 11 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Louisville at Boston College. The weekend’s only matchup of bowl-eligible teams should help determine the Atlantic Division’s third-best team behind No. 2 Florida State and No. 19 Clemson. Eagles QB Tyler Murphy is the nation’s leading rusher among quarterbacks and should provide a test for a Cardinals defense that is the league’s toughest against the rush, allowing an average of 79 yards on the ground. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino says Murphy ”challenges our discipline with our eyes, and our discipline with our gap control in our assignments.”
BEST MATCHUP: Duke’s offense vs. Syracuse’s defense. The Coastal Division-leading Blue Devils put up 438 total yards and 51 points in their double-overtime road victory at Pittsburgh. Now they’re headed to the Carrier Dome for the first time to take on an Orange defense that hasn’t allowed that many yards to a team outside the Top 10. Syracuse has held its last three opponents (Wake Forest, Clemson and N.C. State) to 47 points – total.
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INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The state of North Carolina is home to the four worst rushing defenses in the conference. N.C. State has the best of the bunch, ranking 11th in the league and giving up an average of 171.1 yards on the ground. Rival North Carolina ranks last in the league, allowing nearly 220 yards rushing per game. Wake Forest (178.5) and Duke (214) are sandwiched between them.
LONG SHOT: Maybe Virginia will get it together and give the second-ranked Seminoles a game. The Cavaliers, 19 1/2-point underdogs and still chasing bowl eligibility, have lost three in a row to fall out of the Coastal Division race. Virginia shares the ACC lead with 21 turnovers forced – but has only generated two of them during the losing streak – while reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is coming off a three-interception game at Louisville. ”We have to make sure (we) still play aggressive,” UVa coach Mike London said.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas could put up some big numbers on N.C. State’s leaky run defense. The Wolfpack have allowed three 100-yard rushers while Thomas has cracked triple figures three times and enters the season’s final month 279 yards shy of becoming the second Yellow Jackets’ QB to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. N.C. State coach Dave Doeren says ”it’s impossible to simulate” Georgia Tech’s offense in practice.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.