The Florida State-Clemson showdown on Saturday night is obviously the big matchup of the weekend in the ACC, but there's interesting competition elsewhere, too. Here's a look at this the games.
NOTE: I'm going to start including Louisville in this post so everyone can keep tabs on the ACC-team-to-be.
In the Coastal
- Miami and North Carolina both will be returning from bye weeks when they match up in whatever they're calling Miami's stadium these days (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN). The 1-4 Tar Heels didn't look completely awful against Virginia Tech last time out, outgaining the Hokies and holding their running game to just 48 yards. UNC's 11 penalties and three turnovers were the difference. If Carolina plays a cleaner game, it should be right there. Whether that will be enough against the Hurricanes' ninth-ranked scoring offense remains to be seen.
- Georgia Tech and Syracuse both are 3-3, but the Orange, winners of three of their past four including a solid victory against N.C. State last week, enter with a lot more momentum than the Yellowjackets, who've dropped their past three (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., ESPN3). Syracuse appears to have found something with Terrel Hunt, a dual-threat signal caller who's scored 10 total touchdowns in the four games he's seen significant time. He'll be facing a Georgia Tech defense looking to rebound from giving up 45 points to Miami and 38 to BYU in consecutive weeks.
- Duke is 4-2 but will still be seeking its first ACC win when it travels to Virginia (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN3). Virginia's defense could slow the high-scoring Blue Devils down a little. But provided they can outscore a Hoos offense that managed to hang 26 last week against Maryland and still lose, David Cutcliffe's crew should be sitting pretty to earn another win and bowl eligibility by season's end.
In the Atlantic
- We've waited the whole season for the collision of No. 5 Florida State and No. 3 Clemson and it's finally here (Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC). The Seminoles had last weekend off after steamrolling Maryland 63-0 last time out, while the Tigers struggled to put up points against a Boston College team that had previously challenged Florida State with a plucky offensive performance. Now they'll meet for a chance to take control of the division race and all eyes will be on the quarterbacks. Will Tajh Boyd's big game experience pay off for Clemson? Or will Jameis Winston's startling efficiency get the Noles the resume-boosting win they need to vault themselves into the national championship conversation? Should be a good one.
Elsewhere: Maryland travels to Wake Forest (Saturday, 3:30, ESPNU).
- The Cardinals draw Central Florida this week (Friday, 8 p.m., ESPN) in what will be probably the toughest on-paper challenge they'll get the rest of the way. The Knights made Penn State's defense look silly in week three before hanging very tough with No. 12 South Carolina. Their defense has the athletes to test Teddy Bridgewater and their offense has more than enough weapons and speed to give Louisville's top-ranked scoring defense problems. Look out for UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, who'll compete with Bridgewater again at the NFL Combine in the spring.