Inside the ACC: Tigers, Noles put ACC in the national spotlight

jgiglio@newsobserver.comOctober 18, 2013 

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Duke wide receiver Issac Blakeney (17) signals a touchdown as he scores against Navy during their game at Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday Oct.12, 2013.

CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Observations

•  FSU won’t be as good Saturday as it was in its last game (a 63-0 blitz of Maryland on Oct. 5) and Clemson won’t be as bad as in its last game (a 24-14 close call against Boston College last Saturday).

The Tigers do need to figure out how to run the ball effectively with either running back Rod McDowell or Zac Brooks, because quarterback Tajh Boyd won’t make it through the game in one piece if he tries to do everything against FSU’s punishing defense.

•  Since a 3-0 start, including wins against Duke and North Carolina, Georgia Tech (3-3) has lost three straight. Between Virginia Tech, Miami and Brigham Young, there’s not a bad loss on the Yellow Jackets’ resume, but that doesn’t alleviate any of the pressure building on sixth-year coach Paul Johnson, who is 24-22 since a 20-7 start with the talent he inherited from Chan Gailey.

The Jackets get Syracuse (3-3) at home. The teams might not attempt 20 passes between them.

•  While Georgia Tech (No. 6 nationally) and Syracuse (No. 23) have been able to run the ball, the sledding has been tougher elsewhere in the ACC. Virginia Tech (105), Pittsburgh (106), Wake Forest (110) and UNC (115) all average less than 118 rushing yards per game.

Three to watch

1) No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson, 8 p.m. (ABC)

Doesn’t get any bigger for the ACC than this. The winner takes control of the Atlantic Division and stays in the BCS title race. Clemson (6-0) has won five straight at home against FSU (5-0).

2) Duke at Virginia, 3:30 p.m. (Fox Sports Carolinas)

The Cavaliers (2-4) have lost three straight and their season is on the edge of a cliff. Duke (4-2) can solidify its own bowl push with a rare ACC road win.

3) Maryland at Wake Forest, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Wake (3-3) is feeling good coming off an open date and a strong home win against N.C. State. The Terps (5-1) rebounded from a drubbing at Florida State with a wild 28-27 home win against Virginia.

Number to know

9 David Cutcliffe has won nine ACC games in five-plus seasons at Duke. Four have come against Virginia.

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