With the final month of conference games taking place, the matchups become even more important. This weekend will be no different as a showdown in the Atlantic is on the docket. Plus more conference teams are trying to become bowl eligible. Here’s how this weekend is shaping up in the ACC.
The marquee game will take place in Winston-Salem, NC as #19 North Carolina State (7-2, 4-1) takes on #12 Wake Forest (8-1, 5-0) in a game that will have first place on the line in the Atlantic plus an inside track toward the league championship game in December. This will be the 115th meeting between the two schools. This game will pit one of the nation’s best offenses against one of the nation’s best scoring defenses. Through nine games, Wake is averaging 44.7 points per game which rank third in the country. The Demon Decanos have won 10 of the last 12 games in this series in Winston-Salem. Wake is also the only team in the country to score 35-or-more points in every game they have played this season. Last Saturday, they dropped 55 on UNC as quarterback Sam Hartman was 25 of 51 for 398 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran the ball for another 78 yards and two more scores. The seven touchdowns set a program record and broke the UNC record for touchdowns by an opponent which was six.
North Carolina State’s defense is ranked sixth in the country in scoring defense allowing 16 points per game and only giving up two rushing touchdowns all season. In the ACC, the Wolfpack defense is second in total defense allowing 321.4 yards a contest. They are first in rushing defense and giving up 100 yards a game. They are also #1 in pass defense efficiency at 116.5 yards a game, something that will be tested by Hartman and the Wake passing game. On offense, quarterback Devin Leary has thrown for more than 300 yards for three straight games. He has also had two consecutive games with four touchdown passes. It should be a great game.
Two terrific quarterbacks were on display when #25 Pittsburgh (8-2, 5-1) plays host to North Carolina (5-5, 3-4) last night. Some are suggesting that Panthers QB Kenny Pickett may be the first QB taken when the NFL draft takes place in April. Last Saturday vs Duke he put on another show which may make the case. Pickett threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over the Blue Devils. he posted his 14th game of 300 yards passing, tying a Panther record that was set by Alex Van Pelt ( 1989-1992). It was also the fifth 400 yards game of his career extending his own record. This was the fourth time this year that Pittsburgh has scored 50-plus points, they lead the country averaging 45 points per game. The Panthers came out victorious in this game 30-23. Pickett was spectacular going 25-43 for 346 yards and three touchdown passes.
Not to be outdone, Tar Heel QB Sam Howell is putting up some serious numbers running the UNC offense this season. He set a school record for total offense in leading his team to the come from behind win over Wake Forest. He threw for 216 yards and a score while rushing for another 104 yards and two more touchdowns. For his career at UNC, Howell has amassed 10,515 yards in 34 games. He has thrown a touchdown pass in all 34 games as the North Carolina QB. It is the longest active streak in the country. The Tar Heel running game also got a boost from RB Ty Chandler who ran for a career-high 213 yards and four scores in the win last Saturday. For his efforts, he was named Running Back of the Week in the league.
For the third week in a row, Miami (5-4, 3-2) QB Tyler Van Dyke was named ACC Rookie of the Week for a team that is heading in the right direction. Van Dyke passed for 389 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Georgia Tech (3-6, 2-5). Van Dyke saved his best moment for when his team really needed it. Down 28-27 in the fourth, Van Dyke drove his team down the field, and threw his third score of the game, a 15-yarder to Key Shawn Smith. He has helped his team to a three-game winning streak and ranks 11th nationally in both OBR and passing efficiency. This Saturday, the Hurricanes try to join the bowl list when they take on Florida State (3-6, 2-4) in Tallahassee.
Also, on Saturday, Virginia (6-3, 4-2) welcomes Notre Dame (8-1) to Scott Stadium for the first time since 2015. The Irish have won the previous three meetings between the two programs. This will also be the fourth game that ND has played against ACC schools. The three other games vs Florida State, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech were all victories for the Irish. They will have one more vs the Yellow Jackets on November 20th. In a non-conference game vs BYU, WR Dontayvon Wicks caught four balls for 125 yards and one score which was a 70-yard catch and run. It was the second week in a row he had a 70-yard TD reception. In his last three games, Wicks has 17 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns. He is averaging 24.6 yards a reception.
That’s a look at what is going on this week in the ACC. We will be back next week with more.