Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 11:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami. A pair of College Football Playoff hopefuls meet in Miami to renew the rivalry that was a must-see matchup in the late 1980s with Jimmy Johnson and Lou Holtz on the sidelines. The Hurricanes (8-0) have their best ranking since they also reached No. 7 in 2013, and are on the verge of clinching their first ACC championship game berth . The Irish (8-1) haven’t been ranked this high since 2012, when they climbed to No. 1 and reached the BCS title game. ”We like it when we’re competing in games like this, late in the year, that are that meaningful,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. ”It’s what you hope for, it’s what you work towards.”
BEST MATCHUP: North Carolina State’s defense vs. Boston College’s offense. The Eagles (5-4, 3-3) have found their offensive groove, averaging 40.3 points during a three-game winning streak that includes victories over Louisville and Florida State. The Wolfpack (6-3, 4-1) have lost two in a row against a pair of teams presently in the top four (No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 4 Clemson), and a defense that has been the strength of the team has allowed averages of 36.5 points and 418.5 total yards.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Clemson continues to do a good job of beating good teams. The Tigers have won nine straight games against Top 25 opponents – the longest such streak in program history. Their victory over then-No. 20 N.C. State last week made them 14-1 in their last 15 games against teams ranked in at least one of the two major polls, and they’re 10-1 against top-15 teams during the past three seasons.
LONG SHOT: Maybe Virginia can keep it closer than the 11+-point spread against slumping Louisville. The Cavaliers are coming off a 40-36 victory over Georgia Tech that made them eligible for their first bowl game since 2011. Bronco Mendenhall’s team played the Cardinals tough last year, losing 32-25 after a fourth-quarter lead slipped away. Louisville has lost three of four and is coming off a week off.
IMPACT PLAYER: Florida State freshman Cam Akers showed why he was one of the most heavily recruited running backs in his class. Akers rushed for a season-best 199 yards and two touchdowns in the Seminoles’ victory over Syracuse , reaching triple digits for the third time this season. He’ll try to keep it going against Clemson’s tough run defense in what once seemed like it would be the marquee ACC game of the season – before Florida State opened with five losses in seven games.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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