GT-Pitt game headlines ACC Week 9
A look at things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference during Week 9 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh. This Coastal Division matchup - the only one in the league Saturday between teams with winning records - shapes up as the best of a light lineup. The Panthers share the division lead with Duke and Virginia, but a loss to a Yellow Jackets team that has dropped two straight would give control of the race to the Blue Devils. ''All of those things will come into play if you take care of your business,'' Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. This game features two of the ACC's top rushers - Pitt's James Conner (137 yards per game) leads the league while Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas (89.3) ranks fourth.
BEST MATCHUP: Virginia's defense vs. North Carolina's offense. The Cavaliers have forced an ACC-best 19 turnovers and rank fourth in the league with nearly 3.3 sacks per game. They figure to provide a test for the Tar Heels, who have totals of 91 points and 1,100 yards in the past two weeks. ''It's a characteristic of this defense, of the team and the way we have to play ... good defense, get turnovers, get to the quarterback and get sacks,'' Virginia coach Mike London said.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Just how tight has the Coastal Division been? The average margin of victory in games matching two Coastal teams has been 7.9 points, with six of the nine meetings having been decided by no more than a touchdown. No Coastal team entered this week with more than two ACC wins, and none have more than two league losses.
LONG SHOT: Maybe Syracuse can make its first trip to Clemson interesting. The Orange are two-touchdown underdogs who have allowed just five sacks - in the ACC, only Duke (4) has allowed fewer - and must keep Vic Beasley and the rest of Clemson's tough defensive front away from freshman QB A.J. Long. The Tigers could be due for a letdown after tight wins against Louisville and Boston College. ''If we go into this game with the mindset that ... you think you are supposed to show up and win,'' Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, ''you will get beat.''
PLAYER TO WATCH: Boston College QB Tyler Murphy could have a big day at Wake Forest's expense. The transfer from Florida has three 100-yard rushing performances, is the nation's leading rusher among quarterbacks and is on pace to break Woody Dantzler's ACC single-season record for rushing yards by a QB. Wake Forest has allowed four 100-yard rushers this season.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.