Here are some things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference for Week 8:
GAME OF THE WEEK: North Carolina State at No. 7 Louisville looks like the best game on an extremely light schedule that has only three games on Saturday. The Wolfpack (4-2, 1-1) missed a chance to pull off a road upset of a top-10 team and Heisman Trophy contender last week when a game-winning field goal attempt sailed wide right at No. 3 Clemson. “They make you earn it,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. They get a chance to make up for it when they visit Lamar Jackson and Louisville (5-1, 3-1), which looked vulnerable in a closer-than-expected victory over Duke.
BEST MATCHUP: Syracuse offense vs. Boston College defense. The Orange offense has shifted into high gear under new coach Dino Babers, averaging 480 total yards and a league-best 346 yards through the air. Little has gone right offensively for BC but the defense continues to be stout, giving up 253 total yards and a shade under 150 yards passing per game — both conference bests. Babers says he wants his team to “not get a big head” after lighting up another tough defense last week , Virginia Tech.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: It’s been tough to run the ball against most ACC defenses. Of the top 32 run defenses in the Bowl Subdivision, one-fourth of those are ACC teams and each of those eight schools allowing fewer than 140 yards rushing per game. Three are in the top 10 — No. 5 N.C. State, No. 6 Pittsburgh and No. 10 Boston College.
LONG SHOT: Virginia has already knocked off one Coastal opponent from North Carolina and the Cavaliers — 8-point underdogs — will try to make it two when they play host to the 22nd-ranked Tar Heels. QB Kurt Benkert has thrown nine touchdown passes in three games but is coming off a disappointing-by-his-standards 278-yard performance against Pittsburgh. UNC’s defense, praised for its improvement in 2015, has allowed four opponents to gain at least 400 total yards — and one of the two that didn’t, Virginia Tech, had to deal with rain and wind from Hurricane Matthew.
IMPACT PLAYER: N.C. State running back Matt Dayes will have to find some holes in a tough Louisville run defense if the Wolfpack is going to knock off the Cardinals. Dayes has surpassed the 100-yard mark in five of six games and is coming off a 106-yard effort against Clemson. Having a productive running game might be the best way to stop Jackson and the Louisville offense because it keeps them off the field, so it will be up to Dayes and the N.C. State offensive line to control the clock, and the game.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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