Latest ACC showdown: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Notre Dame

Here’s what to look for in the Atlantic Coast Conference in week nine:

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 1 Clemson at No. 4 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish (6-0, 5-0 ACC) are competing in the ACC due to the coronavirus pandemic and get to make their case as the league’s top team when they face the top-ranked Tigers on Saturday night. It is Clemson’s first trip to Notre Dame in 41 years — since All-American tailback Vagas Ferguson was leading the Irish backfield. The Tigers (7-0, 6-0) will be without their own All-American in quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who’ll miss his second straight game since testing positive for COVID-19 last week. Five-star freshman DJ Uiagalelei gets another start in Lawrence’s place and looks to build on his impressive debut as he led Clemson back from 18-points down by throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-28 win over the Eagles. The Clemson-Notre Dame winner certainly has a leg up on the league’s championship game and a spot in the College Football Playoff. The loser is probably not out of the chase, but has no cushion for another defeat.

BEST MATCHUP

Miami quarterback D’Eriq King against North Carolina State’s pass defense. The 11th-ranked Hurricanes (5-1, 4-1) look to win their third straight since losing to Clemson last month. The Wolfpack (4-2, 4-2) are one of the ACC’s most efficient teams against the pass, allowing just nine passing TDs and getting six interceptions. King is third in the ACC in total offense with 1,401 yards passing and 301 yards on the ground. King has accounted for 13 touchdowns this season.

COVID POSTPONEMENT

The ACC postponed Louisville’s game at Virginia this week due to positive tests and subsequent quarantining with the Cardinals’ football program. The league said the team is “adhering to minimum outlined protocols” within the ACC Medical Advisory Group report. The game has been rescheduled for Nov. 14.

LONG SHOTS?

Virginia Tech (4-2, 4-2) might have bit off more than it could chew against rising and newly ranked, No. 25 Liberty (6-0) on Saturday. The Flames are ranked for the first time since joining the FBS three years ago and are looking to add to their impressive run. Liberty already has one ACC victory — its first ever — this season after defeating Syracuse 38-21 last month. Virginia Tech has its own recent problems with non-conference teams, falling to Old Dominion at home two years ago. The Hokies have won two of their past three, including a 42-35 victory at Louisville last week.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

The Clemson-Notre Dame matchup is the sixth ACC contest between teams ranked in the top five. The last one coming in 2016 when No. 5 Clemson and Deshaun Watson defeated No. 3 Louisville and Lamar Jackson 42-36. It’s also the 18th ACC game between Top-10 opponents and second this season after the top-ranked Tigers beat then-No. 7 Miami 42-17 last month.

IMPACT PLAYER

Clemson tailback Travis Etienne surpassed Ted Brown of North Carolina State last week as the ACC’s all-time leading rusher. Etienne is now looking to chase down fellow Clemson ACC player of the year C.J. Spiller as the league’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards. Second-place Etienne has 6,246 yards in four seasons, 1,342 yards in back of Spiller’s mark of 7,588 yards from 2006-09.

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