A look at things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference for Week 6:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Miami at No. 12 Florida State. Neither one of these cross-state rivals enters their annual meeting in a great situation. The Seminoles’ top offensive threat – sophomore RB Dalvin Cook, the ACC’s leading rusher at 142.5 ypg – is questionable after tweaking his hamstring last week at Wake Forest, and they at times looked vulnerable against the Demon Deacons, needing an interception in the end zone in the final minute to seal the win. But at least they didn’t lose – and that’s more than the Hurricanes can say, after Cincinnati beat them 34-23 last week. Coach Al Golden says that loss was ”frustrating, it’s disheartening, it makes you angry – by what we gave away.”
BEST MATCHUP: Georgia Tech’s rushing offense vs. Clemson’s rushing defense. The sixth-ranked Tigers held Notre Dame to 111 yards rushing in a 24-22 victory last week. The Yellow Jackets once again lead the ACC in rushing at nearly 312 ypg, but are trying to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 1996. ”Our margin for error,” coach Paul Johnson said, ”is razor-thin.”
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INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Most of the ACC’s best rushers have one thing in common – youth. Seven of the league’s top 10 rushers are either freshmen or sophomores, led by Cook and Pittsburgh freshman Qadree Ollison (106.8 ypg). Only two are seniors – North Carolina QB Marquise Williams (69.2) is eighth and Georgia Tech’s Patrick Skov (63.8) is a graduate transfer from Stanford.
LONG SHOT: Keep an eye on Wake Forest, a touchdown underdog at Boston College. The improving Demon Deacons moved the ball on Florida State’s then-fourth-ranked defense, gaining 357 total yards, but came away with too many field goals and too few touchdowns to spring the upset. Still, that performance has to give their young offense confidence as it faces an even tougher defense this week: BC has the best total D in the FBS, allowing 140 ypg.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Duke safety Jeremy Cash already came up huge in one game against a triple-option offense, finishing with 12 tackles, three for losses and a sack against Georgia Tech. He’ll face another perhaps less-talented option team this week at Army. Cash leads the ACC with 9 1/2 tackles for losses. Said coach David Cutcliffe: ”Jeremy is a guy that is capable … of making a boatload of plays.”
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.