- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

A look at things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference during Week 6 of the season:

GAME OF THE WEEK: Virginia Tech at North Carolina. Both teams were discussed as potential favorites in the muddled Coastal Division yet the loser will sit at 0-2 in the league after this one. The Hokies (3-2) won at Ohio State in Week 2 but followed that with losses at home to East Carolina and Georgia Tech. As for the Tar Heels (2-2), they’ve given up 120 points in the past two games, losses at ECU and Clemson. “We’re going to have to play better,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said, “there’s no doubt about it.”

BEST MATCHUP: Pittsburgh running back James Conner vs. Virginia’s run defense. Conner has been a one-man offense for the Panthers, ranking third nationally by averaging a league-best 158.2 yards rushing per game to go with nine rushing scores. The improved Cavaliers, meanwhile, rank 10th nationally against the run by allowing 86.6 yards per game.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Those days when Wake Forest routinely led the ACC in rushing seem like a lifetime ago. The Demon Deacons rank last among 128 bowl subdivision schools, averaging 29.2 yards rushing per game. They’ve played four FBS opponents and three of them have held Dave Clawson’s team to negative yards rushing. Of the 10 offensive linemen on the depth chart, seven are either freshmen or sophomores. “When you have a true freshman and you have sophomores going against fifth-year seniors and fourth-year juniors … you’re going to lose the strength matchup,” Clawson said.

LONG SHOT: North Carolina State gave No. 1 Florida State fits last week. Now Dave Doeren’s team travels to Clemson, which opened as a 13 1/2-point favorite in an Atlantic Division matchup of teams jockeying for position behind the Seminoles. The Wolfpack’s offense is averaging about 100 yards more per game behind Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and ranks second in the league by averaging 40.4 points per game. Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said N.C. State is “playing at a high level with a ton of confidence” coming into Death Valley. “We’ll have to play very well, that’s for sure,” he said.

IMPACT PLAYER: Georgia Tech redshirt sophomore Justin Thomas ranks second among all bowl subdivision quarterbacks in rushing yards per game heading into Saturday’s matchup with Miami. Thomas is averaging 110.8 yards on the ground, including 6.8 yards per carry, and ran for 165 yards at Virginia Tech. He also has thrown for seven touchdowns with one interception.


Compiled by AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard and Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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