‘Semifinal Saturday’ with Miami-VT, Clemson-NC State games
Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 10:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 13 Virginia Tech at No. 9 Miami. It is a semifinal Saturday in the ACC with the top two teams in both divisions facing off. Give the edge to the Virginia Tech-Miami matchup as the marquee contest over Clemson-North Carolina State based on the better average combined ranking. The Hurricanes (7-0, 5-0), whose 12-game winning streak is the longest in the FBS, can clinch their first ACC title-game berth with a victory and a Georgia Tech win over Virginia. Their last four ACC wins have come by an average of 4.5 points. The Hokies (7-1, 3-1) have won three in a row and have allowed just 51 total points in conference games.
BEST MATCHUP: Clemson’s rushing offense vs. North Carolina State’s run defense. The 20th-ranked Wolfpack (6-2, 4-0) — the Atlantic Division’s only team without a league loss — had what was by far the ACC’s best run defense before Notre Dame shredded them for a season-worst 318 yards allowed. They’ll need to prove that was an outlier in this visit from the sixth-ranked Tigers (7-1, 5-1), after dual-threat QB Kelly Bryant looked healthy again, leading them in rushing in a 24-10 win over Georgia Tech.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Lamar Jackson keeps finding ways to do impressive things, even in a subpar season for a Louisville team that has lost three of four. Jackson, who accounted for four touchdowns and 491 total yards in a 42-32 loss to Wake Forest, joined Clemson’s Woody Dantzler as the only ACC quarterbacks with two 1,000-yard rushing seasons and became the fastest player in league history to reach 10,000 total yards, reaching the mark in just 31 career games. With an average of 114.3 yards rushing, he’s on pace to become the first quarterback in league history to lead the conference in rushing.
LONG SHOT: Maybe Virginia can find a way to beat the spread — if not the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Cavaliers (5-3, 2-2) have lost two straight games with bowl eligibility on the line, and are 9½-point underdogs against Georgia Tech. Virginia’s middle-of-the-pack defense will have to step up in its attempt to slow the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense that once again leads the ACC in rushing (347.9 ypg).
IMPACT PLAYER: Wake Forest is going to need some extra production from junior WR Tabari Hines after top big-play threat Greg Dortch was lost for the season with an abdominal injury suffered during his four-touchdown game against Louisville. Hines is the team’s second-leading receiver with 18 catches for 250 yards. QB John Wolford has shown a knack for finding his slot receivers, and Hines looks to slip into that role in Dortch’s absence, starting with this week’s visit to No. 5 Notre Dame.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.
More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25