ACC Week 9 Preview: Can N.C. State Make Lightning Strike Twice?


Oct 12, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack cornerback Niles Clark (21) evades a tackle by Syracuse Orange safety Durell Eskridge (3) during the second half at Carter Finley Stadium. Syracuse won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

With the battle of the century in the ACC taking place last Saturday night in Death Valley, we know one thing about the conference through eight weeks–it’s Florida State and then everyone else.

The ‘Noles separated themselves in a huge way from the rest of the pack with the 51-14 blowout victory over the Clemson Tigers. Just as we were beginning to talk about the ACC making strides as a whole, we learned that the conference has actually turned into a nostalgia act.

But, there are still games to be played. As impressive as Florida State is, they’ll try to exorcise some 2012 demons this week, and Clemson will look to pick itself back up after being brought back down to reality.

Plus, there’s a host of other action throughout. Let’s take a look at the Week 9 slate:

Wake Forest at Miami, Noon on ESPNU: Just when it seemed earlier this year like all hope was lost, Jim Grobe has the Demon Deacons sitting at 4-3 and with bowl aspirations still firmly alive. This week, though, they’ll travel to South Beach to take on the seventh-ranked Miami Hurricanes, who are looking to make one last statement before their primetime showdown on the road next week in Tallahassee against Florida State. Miami will also look to improve after what can best be described as a shaky performance last week against North Carolina.

Georgia Tech at Virginia, 12:30 PM ET on ESPN3: Georgia Tech threw their names into the hat along with Clemson as conference teams that have given Syracuse a rude welcome to the ACC with a 56-0 drubbing last week. This week, Paul Johnson and the Jackets will look to keep the momentum going from that performance when they travel to Charlottesville to take on the struggling Virginia Cavaliers. Last week against Duke, the Cavs blew a 22-point lead to Duke, and now questions about the program, especially about the future of head coach Mike London, are starting to come to the surface. If any team in the conference desperately needs a victory, it’s Virginia.

Pitt at Navy, 1 PM ET on CBS Sports Network: The Pitt Panthers are struggling with any kind of consistency this year. After some impressive showings, they came out last week and struggled with Old Dominion, not long after they looked terrible against Virginia Tech. You would think that a game against a 3-3 Navy team would be an easy way to gain some confidence back, but don’t be surprised if the Midshipmen come out and control that Pitt defense with the running game.

NC State at Florida State, 3:30 PM ET on ABC/ESPN2: You probably remember the story. Last season, as the number three team in the country, Florida State took a trip to Raleigh, took a 16-0 lead at the half, blew it and left with a 17-16 loss. After what we saw from the ‘Noles last week, this could be a long afternoon for the Wolfpack. NC State does, however, get to welcome back starting quarterback, and Arkansas transfer, Brandon Mitchell back to the lineup after breaking his foot in Week 1.

Clemson at Maryland, 3:30 PM ET on ESPN: After last week, Clemson has a lot of soul-searching to do and, unfortunately for the injury riddled Terps, a lot of anger to take out. Maryland is without both of their top receivers in Stefon Diggs–who broke his leg last week–and Deon Long for the rest of the season, and starting QB C.J. Brown’s status is still unknown.

Boston College at North Carolina, 3:30 PM ET on ESPN3: If I would have told you before the season started that at the time this game was being played, one of these teams would be just three wins away from bowl eligibility, I’m sure you’d get the answer backwards. Yes, under first-year head coach Steve Addazio, Boston College can smell a bowl berth getting closer after just a two-win season last year. North Carolina, on the other hand, has been the biggest disappointment of the conference by far. At 1-5, the Tar Heels need to win every game they can, if for no other reason than to carry some momentum into 2014.

Duke at Virginia Tech, 3:30 PM ET on ESPNU: David Cutcliffe continues to amaze us all with the progress he’s made with this Duke football program. Currently at 5-2, they’re in prime position to head off to yet another bowl game come December. This week, they’ll have a much stiffer test when they travel to Blacksburg to take on Frank Beamer, Logan Thomas and the rest of the Virginia Tech Hokies, the clear-cut leaders in the Coastal Division. Yes, even over Miami.