Here are things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 7:
Game of the week
Florida State at No. 2 Clemson. The stakes might not be as high as they were earlier this decade, but the Seminoles hope they’ve improved enough during the past few weeks to give the Tigers a test. Florida State has won two in a row to quiet the critics somewhat, but Clemson – which has won the last four meetings of Atlantic Division rivals – no doubt presents the toughest challenge in Willie Taggart’s second season. The Tigers, meanwhile, are coming off an off week and playing their first game since dropping from No. 1 following their one-point victory at North Carolina in which they escaped after stopping a two-point conversion in the final seconds.
Wake Forest’s offense vs. Louisville’s defense. The 19th-ranked Demon Deacons have vaulted into the national rankings with their offense, averaging a league-best 515 total yards and running 82 offensive plays per game while ranking second only to Clemson with a scoring average of 35 points. For the Cardinals, a week after trying to corral the ACC’s best rusher – AJ Dillon of Boston College – they’ll try to slow the league’s most productive offense and its No. 2 passing game.
Inside the numbers
North Carolina (3-3, 2-1) has reason for optimism in its losses. The three teams to beat the Tar Heels – Clemson, Wake Forest and Appalachian State – entered this week a combined 14-0. UNC and Miami are the only two schools in the Bowl Subdivision with three losses by seven or fewer points apiece.
Maybe Georgia Tech can take advantage of a possible letdown by Duke, an 18 1/2-point favorite. The Blue Devils rallied from 23 points down in the third quarter and tied Pittsburgh with 1:30 remaining – only to have the Panthers come back and score the winning touchdown in the final seconds. Not much has gone right in Geoff Collins’ first season with the Yellow Jackets (1-4, 0-2), who have lost four of five in the series and rank last in the league in scoring offense (15.2 ppg), passing offense (135.2 ypg) and total offense (295.6 ypg).
Hendon Hooker should have an easier time in his second start at quarterback for Virginia Tech. Hooker threw three touchdown passes without a turnover as the Hokies blew a 28-point lead before regrouping to beat Miami last week. Now comes a visit from Rhode Island of the FCS for a game that should help Hooker grow even more comfortable in the job.
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