A look at five things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference during Week 7 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Pittsburgh at No. 24 Virginia Tech. Things looked bleak for the Hokies (5-1, 2-0) after that ugly offensive showing in the opener against No. 1 Alabama. But they haven’t lost since, beating Georgia Tech and North Carolina to knock off two of the expected main challengers in the Coastal Division. Next up is Pittsburgh (3-1, 2-1), which can put itself firmly in the division hunt with a road upset if quarterback Tom Savage can poke holes in the Hokies’ fifth-ranked total defense.
BEST MATCHUP: Boston College tailback Andre Williams is leading the country in rushing at 153.6 yards per game and his performance against Florida State (28 carries, 149 yards) helped the Eagles stay competitive. Coach Steve Addazio says Williams “has to be” the nation’s top rusher “for us to have success right now.” He’ll need to do it again if BC has any chance of keeping within arm’s reach of No. 3 Clemson. The Tigers rank near the bottom of the league in rushing defense (171.2 yards allowed).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: New ACC members are 5-0 in their league road debuts dating to 1992, according to STATS. Four of those were decided by seven or fewer points, including Pitt’s 58-55 win at Duke last month. Now it’s Syracuse’s turn, with Scott Shafer’s Orange heading south to North Carolina State on Saturday.
LONGSHOT: Nothing like a 63-0 loss to knock Maryland down a few pegs. In the span of a few days, the Terrapins went from being No. 25 in the national rankings to being a 5½-point underdog at home against a Virginia team that’s 2-3 and coming off a three-touchdown loss to Ball State. The Terps may not have QB C.J. Brown, who was knocked out of that lopsided Florida State loss with a concussion, but they still have enough playmakers to “upset” the Cavaliers’ in Virginia’s final visit to College Park.
IMPACT PLAYER: Duke might have to beat Navy to keep alive its hopes for a second straight bowl, and beating the Midshipmen always means stopping the run. So keep an eye on the front six in the Blue Devils’ 4-2-5 system – especially DEs Kenny Anunike and Justin Foxx. They’ll have to beat blocks and corral a Navy ground game that averages 294 yards. Duke has held four of its five opponents to fewer than 175 yards rushing but the fifth – option-oriented Georgia Tech – rolled up 344.