NC State vs. third-ranked Clemson headlines Week 7 in ACC
FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2015, file photo, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, left, and North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren chat before an NCAA college football game in Raleigh, N.C. NC State is looking to turn the Atlantic Coast Conference from a runaway into a free-for-all. Halfway through the season, powerhouse No. 3 Clemsonis a heavy favorite for a second straight ACC title and berth in College Football Playoffs. But the Tigers' path back, starting with the Wolfpack on Saturday, is crowded with ACC speed bumps, both in the Atlantic and Coastal divisions. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)
Here are some things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference for Week 7:
GAME OF THE WEEK: North Carolina State at No. 3 Clemson. First place in the Atlantic Division is on the line in this matchup of the only two teams in the division without a conference loss. N.C. State (4-1, 1-0) has won three straight and – unlike last week's waterlogged 10-3 win over Notre Dame – won't have to deal with a muddy track. But the Wolfpack will have to contend with Death Valley – where they haven't won since 2002. Deshaun Watson and the Tigers (6-0, 3-0) have won 12 straight ACC games. ''Somebody is going to leave Saturday afternoon with control of their destiny,'' Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, ''and somebody is not.''
BEST MATCHUP: Florida State rushing offense vs. Wake Forest run defense. The Demon Deacons' run D has been rather stout, allowing only 118 yards per game and holding five of six opponents to fewer than 160 yards rushing. They'll get a test from Dalvin Cook and a Seminoles team that has averaged 289 yards on the ground in the last three weeks. Cook checked out of last year's meeting early with a hamstring injury but Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson says ''you can make an argument that they might have the best tailback in the entire country.''
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INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Four ACC players are averaging at least 300 yards of total offense, with Heisman Trophy contender Lamar Jackson of Louisville leading the way with 462.6 total yards per game. Since 2008, only once – in 2013 – has more than one ACC player averaged 300 total yards. Tajh Boyd of Clemson and Jameis Winston of Florida State did it that year.
LONG SHOT: Syracuse might have a shot to beat the 19+-point spread against No. 17 Virginia Tech. The Orange struggled in miserable conditions at Wake Forest – but that won't be an issue inside the Carrier Dome. Coach Dino Babers' fast-paced offense has put up at least 400 total yards in every game but the Wake Forest loss and could put some pressure on a tough Virginia Tech defense that, after knocking North Carolina out of the rankings with a 34-3 loss , might be due for some regression.
IMPACT PLAYER: Keep an eye on Virginia QB Kurt Benkert. The East Carolina transfer in his first year as a starter is throwing for 291 yards per game, has thrown eight touchdown passes in his last two games and is coming off an idle week. Now he faces a Pittsburgh pass defense that ranks 13th in the ACC and has given up 10 touchdown passes in its last four games.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org