Capsules: NC State can’t afford to overlook Syracuse

No. 12 North Carolina (9-1, 6-0 ACC) at Virginia Tech (5-5, 3-3)

Kickoff: Noon, Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va.

TV/Radio: ESPN, 106.1-WTKK

Virgina Tech’s strength: Another year, another strong defense in Blacksburg. The Hokies are allowing 336.7 yards per game, which ranks 22nd nationally. The defense has been better on a per-game basis than per-play, though. Virginia Tech allows 5.32 yards per play, which is tied for 49th nationally. You can expect Virginia Tech to try to limit UNC’s offensive possessions.

Key theme: Lots of history at play on Saturday at Lane Stadium. For one, Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer is coaching his final home game in his 29th season as the Hokies head coach. For UNC, a victory clinches the Coastal Division and UNC’s first appearance in the ACC Championship game.

Andrew Carter

Syracuse (3-7) at N.C. State (6-4)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m., Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh

TV/Radio: WRAL, 101.5-WRAL

Syracuse’s strength: The Orange rushed for 242 yards in last week’s 37-27 loss to No. 1 Clemson. Third-string quarterback Zack Mahoney had 76 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Key theme: N.C. State can’t afford to overlook Syracuse with North Carolina next on the schedule. The Orange fought with Clemson and LSU and have been close in other ACC games.

The Wolfpack offense needs to get its running back on track after a difficult week (79 yards, 31 carries) at Florida State.

Joe Giglio

Duke (6-4) at Virginia (3-7)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Va.

TV/Radio: ESPN3, 620-WDNC

Virginia’s strength: Matt Johns has quietly put together one of the best seasons by an ACC quarterback this season. His 17 touchdown passes are second only to Clemson star Deshaun Watson (23). Receiver Canaan Severin is second in the ACC in receiving yards (599 on 50 catches).

Key theme: The wheels have been falling off the Duke train since the controversial ending to the Miami game. The return of quarterback Thomas Sirk would help Blue Devils get back on track.

After some early missed steps, Virginia has been good at home, beating Syracuse and Georgia Tech. Duke has only played two conference road games: a 45-43 quadruple overtime win at Virginia Tech and a 66-31 loss at UNC.

Joe Giglio

Wake Forest (3-7) at No. 1 Clemson (10-0)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.

TV/Radio: ESPN2, 105.5-WDRU, 1030-WDRU

Clemson’s strength: The Tigers’ skill players are having big seasons. Running back Wayne Gallman has run for 1,043 yards to complement quarterback Deshaun Watson (2,601 yards, 23 touchdowns) and receiver Artavis Scott (68 catches, 627 yards).

Key theme: Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson should probably be on the College Football Playoff selection committee. The Demon Deacons played last week at Notre Dame, No. 4 in the CFP rankings, and go to Clemson, No. 1 in the CFP rankings, this weekend.

The Deacs have been relatively competitive since a 50-14 loss at North Carolina on Oct. 17 but Clemson needs to keep impressing the committee.

Joe Giglio

Other area games

N.C. Central (7-3, 6-1 MEAC) at N.C. A&T (9-1, 7-0), 1 p.m.,, Aggie Stadium, Greensboro: The MEAC championship is on the line for the Eagles and the Aggies. A win for N.C. Central would give them a share of the title for the second consecutive year. N.C. A&T can win it outright with a win.