Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 5:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 2 Clemson at No. 12 Virginia Tech . In a possible preview of the ACC championship game, the Tigers (4-0, 2-0) visit the Hokies (4-0) in what shapes up as tough tests for each team’s first-year starting quarterback. Kelly Bryant and Clemson will try to solve Bud Foster’s traditionally tough defense, which feeds off the raucous Lane Stadium crowd, while redshirt freshman Josh Jackson and the Hokies will look for cracks in a Tigers unit that has held three of four opponents to seven or fewer points while averaging four sacks per game.
BEST MATCHUP: Florida State’s offense vs. Wake Forest’s defense. The Seminoles (0-2, 0-1) are looking to get back on track in the second career start for freshman QB James Blackman, who has yet to throw an interception but also only has one touchdown pass. Offensive lineman Cole Minshew says the Seminoles are trying to “make a statement” and “show everyone we’re not just some scrub team.” The Demon Deacons (4-0, 1-0) — who have opened with four wins for the second straight year — allow only 11.5 points per game.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Duke’s David Cutcliffe joined an exclusive club among ACC coaches with the Blue Devils’ victory last week over North Carolina. Cutcliffe became the sixth active ACC coach with at least 100 career victories. Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson is the winningest active coach in the league with 179, followed by Miami’s Mark Richt (156), Louisville’s Bobby Petrino (112), Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson (107) and Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall (104).
LONG SHOT: Give Syracuse a chance to spring an upset on North Carolina State. The Wolfpack (3-1, 1-0) are 12½-point favorites in what’s clearly a trap game for them — coming immediately after their upset at Florida State and before a visit from Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and No. 17 Louisville. Syracuse (2-2) might have enough offensive firepower to make things interesting, with QB Eric Dungey ranking second in the league in total offense and WR Steve Ishmael leading the FBS with 11.2 receptions per game.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Boston College’s Lukas Denis is all over the ACC’s defensive stat list. He leads the conference with three interceptions, shares the lead with two fumbles forced and is tied for second with six passes broken up. He should get more chances when the Eagles (1-3) take on Central Michigan this week.
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