A look at things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference during Week 5 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Duke at Miami. This contest matches the Hurricanes — preseason pick to win the Coastal Division — against the team that actually received the most first-place votes in media voting. Duke (4-0) was barely tested by its nonconference opponents, outscoring them by an average of 44-12 in its best start since 1994. Miami (2-2) allowed Nebraska to gain 343 yards rushing and now must try to contain Duke’s suddenly productive ground game. “This is what you play for,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “The conference playoff goes on every week.”
BEST MATCHUP: Syracuse’s rushing offense vs. Notre Dame’s run defense. The Orange are the only team with two of the ACC’s top seven rushers — QB Terrel Hunt and RB Prince-Tyson Gulley. Notre Dame is allowing only 99 yards per game on the ground and the Fighting Irish haven’t allowed an individual rusher to gain more than 61 yards.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The North Carolina Triangle is home to the ACC’s three highest-scoring offenses. Duke leads the way averaging 43.5 points with North Carolina scoring 42.7 points and N.C. State third at 40.2 points per game. They have combined to score at least 40 points eight times and their composite record is 10-1.
LONG SHOT: If nothing else, N.C. State (4-0) has history on its side in its showdown with No. 1 Florida State. The three-touchdown-underdog Wolfpack have won two in a row at home against the Seminoles, including a 17-16 shocker in 2012 when Florida State was ranked No. 2. This is N.C. State’s first home game against a top-ranked team. Said coach Dave Doeren: “If we play well and get (the crowd) fired up about what’s going on, it’s hard for anyone to win here.”
PLAYER TO WATCH: It could be Clemson QB DeShaun Watson’s turn to put up big numbers on North Carolina. The freshman came off the bench and nearly led the Tigers to an upset of No. 1 Florida State, leading two touchdown drives and throwing for 266 yards in a performance coach Dabo Swinney called “amazing.” His next challenge is a Tar Heels defense that gave up 70 points and 789 total yards — both program records — in a loss at East Carolina.
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