As we begin the final two weeks of the Atlantic Coast Conference season, the two teams that may get the chance to play for the conference championship may become clear by the weekend’s end. We already know that the Florida State Seminoles are already in. The Louisville Cardinals can claim the other spot with a win this Saturday vs Miami. With two weeks left, let’s take a look at what is going on.
For the 11th consecutive week, the Florida State Seminoles (10-0, 8-0) find themselves in the top five of the AP Top 25 poll. They are at #4 which puts them in position for a college football playoff spot. The Louisville Cardinals are at #9, and North Carolina is at #22. The North Carolina State Wolfpack also received some votes. In the USA Today AFCA Poll, Florida State is at #4, Louisville at #9, and North Carolina at #20. The Wolfpack received votes in this poll as well. For the Seminoles, their record is their best since 2014 when they were 13-0, and 8-0 in league play. They are one of just seven teams still without a loss and one of only five Power 5 teams still unbeaten. The Cardinals ranking of #9 is their highest since 2016 when they were at #3.
With two weeks to go, the league has eight teams that are bowl-eligible. This week, three more teams can join that list. Virginia Tech (5-5, 4-2) Syracuse (5-5, 1-5), and Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-3). One will get there for sure because the Orange and Yellow Jackets will meet this weekend in Atlanta, GA. The Hokies will be home to face the Wolfpack. Here is how these games stacked up.
We will start with NC State vs Virginia Tech. Last Saturday at Boston College, the Hokies unleashed a running game that the Eagles defense could not stop. In fact, BC had a hard time with the VT offensive game plan all day. The Hokies ran 72 plays and totaled 600 yards on the afternoon. On the ground, they gained 363 yards on 53 attempts. They averaged 5.1 yards a rush and scored four rushing touchdowns. Bhayshul Tuten (16 carries for 78 yards) had three of the rushing TDs. QB Kyron Drones had a big day, first, he ran for 148 yards on 20 carries for an average of 6.8 yards per carry. In the air, Drones was 12-of-17 for 219 yards and 2 TDs. He was a problem that the BC defense could not solve. The Wolfpack’s defense comes into this game with the 23rd-best scoring defense allowing 19.4 points a game. They are 14th in rushing defense allowing 100.3 yards a game. They are also fourth in the country in third-down conversion percentage defense at 27.2 %. 11th in fewest first downs allowed 161, and 14th in the nation in team sacks with three per game. The Hokies are 6th in passing defense giving up 161.2 yards per game. Last week vs the Eagles, they allowed just 138 yards and had two interceptions both by CB Dorian Strong. With a win, the Wolfpack could keep their championship game possibilities alive.
Syracuse heads to Georgia Tech to face a team they have lost to in three of the four meetings to date. The Yellow Jackets are 24th in the nation in total offense at 444.2 yards a game. They are 35th in the country in scoring offense at 32 points a game. They will meet an Orange offense that had its best day of the season last week vs Pittsburgh. The Orange ran for a season-high 392 yards. In their loss to Clemson last weekend, Georgia Tech turned the ball over four times and gained just 254 yards of offense.
As we said, the Louisville Cardinals (9-1, 6-1) can claim a spot in the title game with a win over Miami. However, beating the Hurricanes has not been easy for the Cardinals. They have lost 11 of the 14 meetings. They have never beaten Miami at Hard Rock Stadium (0-6-1). They are looking for their seventh league win of the season which would equal the mark set by the 2016 team. That team did not play for the league championship. The Miami rush defense was very good in the loss to Florida State. They allowed only 57 yards on the ground to the Seminoles. For the year, the Hurricanes rush defense is tied for sixth nationally allowing just 86 yards per game.
North Carolina (8-2, 4-2) and Clemson (6-4, 2-4) will bring a two-game winning streak into this game. UNC’s offense leads the league and is third in the nation in total offense averaging 520.6 yards per game while the Tigers rank first in the conference and sixth in the country in total defense. They give up on average 271.8 yards per game. Something will have to give on Saturday.
Next week we take a look at the final week of games in the ACC.
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