Virginia-Pitt matchup headlines weekend in ACC
A look at five things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference during Week 5 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Virginia at Pittsburgh. With Virginia Tech playing Georgia Tech on Thursday night, the Cavaliers and Panthers offer Saturday’s most important ACC matchup. Virginia (2-1) wants to win its first conference opener since 2009 while Pitt (2-1, 1-1) is trying to stay near the top of the Coastal Division in its first ACC season. QB Tom Savage already put himself in the league record book after tying a league mark with six TD passes against Duke.
BEST MATCHUP: North Carolina’s defense has shown some improvement from last year, yet the secondary remains a concern. And that unit gets a tough test from East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden in the Pirates’ pass-heavy spread. UNC ranks in the bottom half of the league against the pass, though all three of the team’s interceptions have come from the secondary. Carden has thrown eight touchdowns while completing nearly 75 percent of his passes.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Clemson put up some un-Clemson-like numbers last week, scoring just 26 points against N.C. State, so a visit from Wake Forest could be just what the high-scoring Tigers need. Tajh Boyd has seven touchdown passes — five last year — in winning his two career starts against the Demon Deacons. Four-touchdown-underdog Wake Forest allowed 315 yards passing to one dual-threat QB (Louisiana-Monroe’s Kolton Browning) and could get routed again if their offense can’t keep the defense off the field. In each of the Demon Deacons’ three blowout losses to Clemson since 2009, they were held to fewer than 100 yards rushing.
LONGSHOT: Troy’s offensive numbers paint a scary picture for Duke, which gave up 598 yards to Pitt in the 58-55 loss. The Trojans, an 11-point underdog, average 35 points and 457 yards and scored 66 in beating Savannah State. “They spread the ball out and they throw the ball all over the place,” Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell said. ”... They’re going to test us.”
IMPACT PLAYER: Boston College senior tailback Andre Williams could have a big say in whether his Eagles hang with No. 8 Florida State. Williams ranks 15th nationally with an ACC-best 118.7 yards rushing per game, including a 204-yard performance against Wake Forest. He’s averaging 25 carries, so he should get plenty of shots at a Seminoles rush defense that ranks near the middle of the ACC (135.3 yards per game).
AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard and Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.