October 1, 2013 (ACC) – The Atlantic Coast Conference has four football teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 in No. 3 Clemson, No. 8 Florida State, No. 14 Miami and No. 25 Maryland. Additionally, Virginia Tech is second among other teams receiving votes.
For the ﬁrst time in ACC history, four league teams are unbeaten through their ﬁrst four games of the season. The previous high was three accomplished three times in 1994, 2000 and 2011.
ACC action heats up this week with five league games on tap, highlighted by the inaugural ACC football game for Syracuse, as the Orange host 3rd-ranked Clemson this Saturday at the Carrier Dome (3:30 pm; ABC/ESPN2). Syracuse, coached by Scott Shafer, looks to a balanced offensive attack which has received a boost from sophomore QB Terrel Hunt, whose pass efﬁciency rating of 221.89 would lead the ACC, but lacks enough pass attempts to qualify.
Clemson, coached by Dabo Swinney, counters with a potent attack built around All-America QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins. Boyd enters Saturday’s game just 29 yards shy of 10,000 career yards of total offense.
The Syracuse / Clemson contest is one of five interdivisional games on the slate. Two unbeaten Atlantic Division foes face each other in Tallahassee, Fla., as 8th-ranked Florida State, coached by Jimbo Fisher, and led by redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston, hosts Maryland at Doak S. Campbell Stadium (Noon, ESPN). The Terrapins, 4-0 for the first time since 2001, are coached by Randy Edsall and led by QB C.J. Brown. Brown leads the ACC in total offense (331.5 yds/gm) and is the leader of an offense which is averaging 213.7 yard per game more than a year ago.
A third important Atlantic Division contest takes place in Winston-Salem, N.C., where Wake Forest hosts NC State at BB&T Field (3:30 pm, Regional Sports Networks) in the 107th meeting between in the two schools in a rivalry which began in 1895. The Wolfpack, coached by Dave Doeren and led by big-play WR Bryan Underwood, will face the Demon Deacons, coached by Jim Grobe and led by its own big-play WR in Michael Campanaro, who leads the ACC in pass receptions per game (8.0) and is second in pass receiving yards per game (107.2).
Two important Coastal Division matchups are also slated with Georgia Tech, coached by Paul Johnson and led by QB Vad Lee, traveling to face 14th-ranked Miami at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens (3:30 p.m., ESPNU). The Hurricanes, coached by Al Golden, will look to counter the Yellow Jackets’ spread option offense with its own potent offensive unit led by QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson and an improving defensive unit which ranks 10th nationally in total defense.
Defense has also been the name of the game in Blacksburg, Va., where Virginia Tech, coached by Frank Beamer, features one of the nation’s best collection of stop troops, led by CB Kyle Fuller. Tech ranks 4th nationally in total defense, allowing just 241 yards per game. The Hokies will face a stiff test from North Carolina this Saturday at Lane Stadium (12:30 pm; ACC Network). The Tar Heels, coached by Larry Fedora, are led by QB Bryn Renner and are averaging 297 yards per game through the air. Renner leads the ACC in passing yards per game (279.2), while the Hokies are 3rd nationally in pass efﬁciency defense (80.78 rating) while allowing just 138.2 yards per game through the air. Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas is coming off his best game of the season, accounting for 279 yards in the Hokies’ win over Georgia Tech.
ACC teams will also face a pair of non-conference foes this weekend. League teams have a combined, 31-8 record (.795) against nonleague foes this fall. In Charlottesville, Virginia, coached by Mike London, and led by a defensive unit which ranks 16th nationally, hosts Ball State of the Mid-American Conference at Scott Stadium (Noon, Regional Sports Networks). The Cavaliers, led by S Anthony Harris (8.5 tackles/game) and DE Eli Harold (3.5 sacks), will face a Cardinals team, coached by Pete Lembo and led by QB Keith Wenning, that ranks 6th nationally in passing yards per game (330).
In Chestnut Hill, Mass., Boston College, coached by Steve Addazio and led by TB Andre Williams, will host the Cadets of Army at Alumni Stadium (1 pm, ESPN3). Williams leads the ACC in rushing and ranks 12th nationally averaging 128.8 yards per game. He has topped the 100-yard rushing mark three times in ﬁve games, including an 149-yard effort last week against Florida State. The Eagles also feature a productive pitch and catch combination of QB Chase Rettig and WR Alex Amidon. Amidon ranks 3rd in the ACC, averaging 6.8 receptions per game, while Rettig has completed 61.4 percent of his passes. Army, coached by Rich Ellerson, features the nation’s 2nd-ranked rushing offense, averaging 325.4 yards per game on the ground.
A pair of ACC Coastal Division teams, Pitt and Duke, have bye weeks.