Top Five Things To Watch In ACC Week #12: Pittsburgh, Syracuse Rekindle Big East Rivalry
A look at five things to watch as the Atlantic Coast Conference enters Week 12 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Pittsburgh at Syracuse. The winner of this former Big East matchup will reach bowl eligibility during a lackluster week in which four other ACC schools are playing lesser-quality opponents. This one figures to come down to defense. Panthers DT Aaron Donald leads the nation in tackles for losses while the Orange have not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season and — until No. 2 Florida State’s 59-3 rout last week — had not given up a touchdown since Oct. 18.
BEST MATCHUP: Maryland’s run defense vs. Boston College RB Andre Williams. The nation’s leading rusher, Williams has set school records in each of his last two games, following his 295-yard output against New Mexico State with an ACC-record 339-yard effort against North Carolina State that marked the best performance of the season by an FBS running back. Maryland’s run defense held Virginia Tech to 54 yards on the ground and has held two of its past four opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing. Said Terps coach Randy Edsall: “There is no secret to what we’ve got to do this upcoming week against Boston College.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Duke’s offense is humming right along, averaging nearly 35 points during a six-game winning streak and rushing for 358 yards against Miami — the most by any David Cutcliffe-coached team. But Wake Forest’s defense has quietly been strong. The only teams to score more than 24 points against them (Clemson, Florida State) are now in the top 10 and of the Seminoles’ 59 points, 45 were a direct result of either non-offensive TDs or short fields following turnovers.
LONG SHOT: Maybe Old Dominion could catch North Carolina napping. The Tar Heels have won four straight to put themselves on the brink of bowl eligibility and face top rival Duke next week. The Monarchs, who are transitioning to the FBS, have already faced Maryland and Pitt, and they know how to put up big points. They’ve scored at least 42 points in three straight games and haven’t been held to fewer than 21 since Sept. 7.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Look for the league’s two star quarterbacks — Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd — to put up big numbers against outclassed competition. Winston has the pleasure of facing an Idaho team that ranks 121st nationally in both total and pass defense. Boyd will look to light up The Citadel, which ranks in the middle of the FCS pack in total defense.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C.
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