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Around the ACC: Week 9

A look around the ACC as the conference title race starts to become more clear.

The Seminoles are preparing to make the trip to Death Valley Saturday as they face Clemson for the first time since 2019. For the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the divisional race is becoming more clear in the Atlantic and Coastal. Wake Forest and NC State are on a collision course in the Atlantic, while the Coastal seems to be in the hands of Pittsburgh, with Virginia not far behind.

READ MORE: Florida State Seminoles release depth chart for Clemson Tigers

Below, I listed each conference game and wrote a short preview on where each program stands.

Atlantic:

Syracuse (4-4) vs Boston College (4-3) - Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

The Orange, who had lost their previous three games by a combined nine points, finally earned a win last Saturday. Head coach Dino Barbers and Syracuse defeated Virginia Tech 41-36. Running back Sean Tucker ran for 112 yards for one touchdown. Tucker has hit the century mark on the ground in six consecutive games.

Boston College has lost three straight, including a 28-14 loss to Louisville last Saturday. When these two met in 2020, the Eagles won 16-13.

NC State (5-2) vs. Louisville (4-3) - Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

The Wolfpack traveled to South Florida and dropped a 31-30 cross-divisional game to Miami. In order to catch up to Wake Forest for first in the division, NC State must win out and hope for some luck.

After a 28-14 win against Boston College, head coach Scott Satterfield and the Cardinals are back in the win column after dropping two games straight. Louisville had two 100 yard rushers in quarterback Malik Cunningham (16 attempts, 133 yards, three touchdowns) and running back Trevion Cooley (13 attempts, 112 yards).

READ MORE: FSU's Odell Haggins and Mike Norvell deliver some hard coaching

Cross Divisional:

#13 Wake Forest (7-0) vs. Duke (3-4) - Saturday, 4 p.m.

Quarterback Sam Hartman and Wake Forest hung a season-high 70 points on the scoreboard in its 70-56 win against Army last Saturday. Hartman threw for 458 yards and five touchdowns on 23-of-29 passing.

The Blue Devils might be outmatched, but running back Mataeo Durant (870 yards, nine touchdowns) has a favorable matchup against a shaky Demon Deacons rush defense which allows 207.7 yards per contest.

Duke has not won a game since Sept. 25 (Kansas).

Non-Conference:

North Carolina (4-3) vs. #11 Notre Dame (6-1) - Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

After a bye week, head coach Mack Brown and the Tar Heels stay in Chapel Hill for a non-conference matchup. With two ranked opponents in Wake Forest and Pittsburgh on the horizon, this game could serve as a must-win if North Carolina wants to reach bowl eligibility.

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Notre Dame defeated USC 31-16 last weekend. Running back Kyren Williams spearheaded the offensive attack, rushing for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

The Fighting Irish will be without All-American safety Kyle Hamilton, who suffered a knee injury against USC. Notre Dame won last year's meeting 31-17.

READ MORE: ESPN projects Florida State's chances to make a bowl game

#25 BYU (6-2) vs. Virginia (6-2) - Saturday, 10:15 p.m.

In their first game of the season against a Power Five opponent, the Cougars lost 38-24 against Baylor. But last week, BYU went on the road and defeated Washington State 21-19. BYU is scheduled to join the Big 12 in the 2023-2024 season, so this game against a quality ACC team should serve as a good measuring stick for how competitive the Cougars may be.

Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong is playing as well as anyone in the country. In last Saturday’s 48-40 win against Georgia Tech, Armstrong threw for 396 yards while also rushing for 99 yards. He was responsible for all six Virginia touchdowns. BYU is the first of three consecutive ranked opponents for Virginia (Notre Dame, Pittsburgh).

Coastal:

Georgia Tech (3-4) vs. Virginia Tech (3-4) - Saturday, Noon

The Yellow Jackets offense showed great flashes in their 48-40 loss to Virginia last weekend. Quarterback Jeff Sims tossed for 300 yards for three touchdowns, while running back Jahmyr Gibbs rushed for 132 yards and one touchdown on 10.2 yards per attempt. If Georgia Tech hopes to win its first game since Oct. 9, the defense must perform better. They allowed the Cavaliers' offense to total 636 yards last Saturday.

After last Saturday’s 41-36 home loss to Syracuse, the Hokies have lost three consecutive games. Virginia Tech gave up 314 rushing yards to the Orange, which could spell trouble going up against one of the best younger backs in the conference with Gibbs.

#17 Pittsburgh (6-1) vs. Miami (3-4) - Saturday, Noon

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett is rising up the Heisman list, as well as the 2021 NFL Draft board. The Panthers are coming off a 27-17 win against Clemson, where Pickett threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns. They held the Tigers' offense to 151 passing yards.

The Hurricanes found some momentum in their 31-30 over NC State last weekend. Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke threw for 325 yards and four touchdowns. To keep up with Pittsburgh, who averages just over 45 points per game, Miami will need to replicate its scoring output from a week ago.

Miami won last season's matchup 31-19. 

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