Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 6:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 24 Virginia Tech. The ACC’s only game this week involving two ranked teams matches Virginia Tech (3-1), which bounced back to knock Duke from the Top 25 , against a Fighting Irish team coming off its biggest victory of the season. The Irish (5-0) are making their first trip to Lane Stadium. Both teams have flourished after making recent changes at quarterback, with Ian Book leading consecutive blowout wins over Stanford and Wake Forest in his two starts, while Ryan Willis threw a career-best three touchdown passes at Duke in his first start in place of the injured Josh Jackson.
Florida State’s offensive line vs. Miami’s defensive line. The Seminoles have been challenged up front so far in Willie Taggart’s first season, allowing 12 sacks in five games to rank next-to-last in the league and an ACC-worst 43 tackles for losses. They can’t allow that to continue against a Miami defense that thrives behind the line of scrimmage — the Hurricanes’ league-leading 60 total tackles for losses are 15 more than second-place Clemson.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The ACC as a whole hasn’t had much success against other power leagues this season, with just three combined wins against teams from the Southeastern, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences. Two of those victories belong to Duke — which won at Northwestern and Baylor in consecutive weeks — while the other was Clemson’s down-to-the-wire win at Texas A&M. ACC teams won’t get another chance to improve that number until the season’s final week, when Clemson, Florida State, Louisville and Georgia Tech play their annual rivalry games against instate SEC teams.
No. 23 North Carolina State always seems to have trouble at home against Boston College. The Wolfpack (4-0, 1-0) debut their first national ranking of the season against a team that’s vexed them. The Eagles (4-1, 1-0) have won their last two games at Carter-Finley Stadium, claiming wins of 21-14 two years ago and 30-14 in 2014. And with a weekend off followed by a trip to No. 4 Clemson on Oct. 20, North Carolina State can’t afford to overlook a BC team that has rushed for at least 220 yards in each of its four wins.
Sam Hartman hasn’t looked like a freshman very often for Wake Forest, ranking third in the league with an average of 279 total yards while becoming the second first-year player to start at QB for the Demon Deacons (3-2, 0-1) since 2014. He’s facing a big challenge this week — fourth-ranked Clemson and one of the ACC’s best defenses. But Syracuse found some holes in that group last week with its uptempo offense, and Hartman and Wake Forest will look for even more.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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