A look at five things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference during Week 6 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 25 Maryland at No. 8 Florida State. It’s no surprise to see the Seminoles sitting at 4-0. But the Terrapins? This is the same team that won four games for all of last season and was picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic Division. Yet third-year coach Randy Edsall’s team boasts the nation’s No. 3 scoring defense (10.3 points per game). The Seminoles, who rank fourth nationally by averaging 51.3 points, can’t afford to look ahead to their showdown with No. 3 Clemson in Death Valley on Oct. 19.
BEST MATCHUP: Georgia Tech rushing offense vs. Miami rushing defense. It’s no secret the Yellow Jackets want to run the ball; coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option system perennially ranks among the nation’s leaders. But the 14th-ranked Hurricanes have been solid against the run so far. In their only real test, they held No. 18 Florida to nearly 100 yards fewer than its average of 211 yards rushing.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: For whatever reason, North Carolina State hasn’t figured out how to win at Wake Forest. N.C. State heads to Winston-Salem on Saturday looking for its first win there since 2001. The five-game skid has lasted so long that three Wolfpack quarterbacks have gone on to become NFL starters (Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon) and the school is on its third coach (Chuck Amato, Tom O’Brien and first-year coach Dave Doeren). “I do believe in studying what’s gone on,” Doeren said. “And this streak is hard to ignore, you know?”
LONGSHOT: Syracuse could give No. 3 Clemson a scare. The Orange are two-touchdown underdogs in their first ACC game, but when it’s packed and noisy, the Carrier Dome is tough on first-time visitors. Syracuse’s defense has been decent, ranking 32nd nationally overall and 24th against the run. Priority No. 1 for the Orange: making Tigers QB Tajh Boyd one-dimensional.
IMPACT PLAYER: Pick a Virginia Tech defensive back – perhaps CB Brandon Facyson, the ACC’s leader with four interceptions. The Hokies have intercepted 10 passes in their last four games while Tar Heels QB Bryn Renner has been picked off in each of his last three. No team in the FBS has more interceptions than Virginia Tech (11) and the Hokies rank third nationally in pass-efficiency defense.