Another top-10 showdown highlights ACC's Week 9
A look at five things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference during Week 9 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 7 Miami at No. 3 Florida State. The ACC's second top-10 matchup in three weeks matches the league's top two scoring offenses with the Seminoles (52.6 ppg) and the Hurricanes (39.6). Florida State is a three-touchdown favorite and has won every game by at least 14 points while the Hurricanes needed last-minute touchdowns to win each of their last two. But in intrastate rivalry games, anything can — and usually does — happen.
BEST MATCHUP: North Carolina at North Carolina State. The season might as well be over for the loser of the league's other instate rivalry game. The Tar Heels (2-5, 1-3) have no room for error down the stretch but appear to have righted themselves in a 34-10 rout of Boston College. As for the Wolfpack (3-4, 0-4), first-year coach Dave Doeren has starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell back from a broken foot and hopes he's shaken off the rust that showed last week after missing five games.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Pittsburgh caught a break on the schedule — its visit to Georgia Tech comes a week after a trip to equally-option-minded Navy. That means the Panthers should be prepared for coach Paul Johnson's triple-option system. They held a Navy team that averages 292 yards rushing to 220. The Yellow Jackets average nearly 316. "If I'd had my rathers," Johnson said, "I would have rathered them not played Navy."
LONG SHOT: Boston College might be capable of giving Virginia Tech a second straight loss. The Hokies visit Boston for the second straight year after escaping Alumni Stadium with a 30-23 overtime victory in 2012. BC's path to a win might depend on whether ACC leading rusher Andre Williams can have a big day against the league's top run defense and whether the Hokies have a hangover from their surprising home loss to Duke.
IMPACT PLAYER: Wake Forest QB Tanner Price could put up some big numbers against Syracuse and the ACC's worst pass defense. Price threw for 302 yards and two TDs against a Miami D that ranks third in the league against the pass. After some early season struggles, the Demon Deacons have turned Price loose to do what he does best — throw from the pocket — and the offense has come alive with two wins and a tight loss to the Hurricanes.