Miami-UNC pivotal division matchup in Week 2 of ACC slate
Here are things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 2:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Miami at North Carolina. This one looks more intriguing after the Tar Heels beat South Carolina in coach Mack Brown’s return to the sideline behind true freshman quarterback Sam Howell. Now they’re playing a sellout home opener Saturday night against the Hurricanes in a key Coastal Division matchup, and it marks the second straight week Brown will coach against a former assistant in new Miami coach Manny Diaz. Diaz spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons at Texas but Brown fired him as defensive coordinator after the Longhorns gave up 550 yards rushing to BYU in September 2013. Diaz and the Hurricanes are trying to avoid the program’s first 0-2 start since 1978 following their loss to No. 11 Florida in the opener.
Texas A&M’s run defense against Clemson’s Travis Etienne. The Aggies finished last season ranked third nationally against the run (95.2 yards). And despite entering the season with four returning defensive starters, they held Texas State to 8 yards on 15 rushes — that’s 0.53 yards per attempt — in last weekend’s 41-7 home win. Now they face Etienne for top-ranked and reigning national champion Tigers. Etienne, last year’s ACC player of the year, ran for a career-best 205 yards with touchdowns of 90, 48 and 14 yards in the opener against Georgia Tech. Etienne did all that in just 12 carries, averaging nearly 17.1 yards per attempt.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Eleven teams in the Bowl Subdivision ranks didn’t allow a touchdown in their opening game, with two — No. 21 Syracuse and North Carolina State — in the ACC. The Orange beat Liberty 24-0 for their first road shutout since 1991. The Wolfpack beat East Carolina 34-6, keeping the Pirates out of the end zone for the second time in nine months (N.C. State beat ECU 58-3 in December).
Old Dominion pulled one of last season’s biggest surprises by beating Virginia Tech. Can the Monarchs do it again? They visit the Hokies on Saturday, nearly a year after beating a nationally-ranked Virginia Tech team 49-35 at home. ODU won just four games last year and the offensive stars of that upset (quarterback Blake LaRussa, receivers Travis Fulgham and Jonathan Duhart) are gone, leaving the Monarchs as a 26.5-point underdog to start the week.
Louisville redshirt freshman Javian Hawkins has given new coach Scott Satterfield reason for optimism entering Saturday’s game against Eastern Kentucky. Hawkins ran 19 times for 122 yards in the season-opening loss to No. 8 Notre Dame, making him the first Louisville freshman to run for at least 100 yards against an FBS opponent since November 2009.