Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 12:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 25 North Carolina State at Wake Forest. With the division races decided and three ACC teams playing FCS opponents, the most intriguing matchup is the Wolfpack’s visit to Winston-Salem – where they’ve only won once since Philip Rivers was their quarterback in the early 2000s. Both teams have locked up bowl eligibility so now the emphasis is on postseason positioning, and the Demon Deacons are favored by a field goal after they hung 64 points on Syracuse last week. N.C. State snapped a two-game losing streak by rallying to beat Boston College 17-14, but is a 3-point underdog to a Wake Forest team trying for its first regular-season victory over a Top 25 opponent under fourth-year coach Dave Clawson.
BEST MATCHUP: Georgia Tech rushing offense vs. Duke run defense. Just a few weeks ago, the Blue Devils had the No. 1 rushing defense in the country. Then came a six-game losing streak in which they allowed more than 207 yards per game on the ground, knocking them down to 48th in the nation. But Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense shouldn’t come as a surprise to Duke, which faced a similar scheme last week at Army, holding the Black Knights to 268 yards – nearly 100 less than their average.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The recent offensive breakouts across the conference are taking a toll on the league’s defenses. The ACC doesn’t have a team ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing defense or passing defense. Only Clemson (eighth) is in the top 14 in total defense.
LONG SHOT: Could Virginia catch No. 2 Miami on a letdown? The Hurricanes are coming off a dominating performance against Notre Dame to skyrocket up the polls, and have already sewn up their first ACC championship game berth by virtue of the Cavaliers’ loss to Louisville. Miami, the highest-ranked team coach Bronco Mendenhall has ever faced, is a 17-point favorite.
IMPACT PLAYER: Anthony Ratliff-Williams did it all last week for North Carolina, providing the lone bright spot in a dismal season for the Tar Heels. Ratliff-Williams returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdowns, threw a 35-yard scoring pass and caught a 3-yard TD in UNC’s first ACC victory in more than a year, a Thursday night win at Pittsburgh. The sophomore could put up some more big numbers this week when Western Carolina of the FCS comes to Chapel Hill.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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