Another big week is in store for the ACC. Here is a look at what to watch:
Will Louisville or Clemson win the battle in the trenches? The No. 1 offense in the nation meets the No. 3 defense in the nation in what should be among the most epic matchups in college football this season. Louisville has essentially scored at will behind Lamar Jackson (25 total TDs), averaging 63.5 points and 682 yards. But the feisty Clemson D presents the biggest challenge yet. The best matchup figures to be in the trenches. How does the Louisville offensive line handle Christian Wilkins, Carlos Watkins and Dexter Lawrence, and the Tigers' ability to make plays behind the line? Once again, Clemson ranks in the top 10 nationally in tackles for loss (38) and is giving up fewer than 100 yards rushing per game. On the other side, the Clemson offensive line has struggled in the early going, and will be facing a similarly aggressive bunch that has 34 tackles for loss and 15 sacks. Louisville has given Clemson fits the past two years, but this is the first time the Cards go into the matchup with a powerful offense capable of making the big plays needed to win.
Is Florida State's home winning streak in jeopardy? Florida State has won 22 straight at Doak Campbell Stadium, the longest active winning streak in FBS. But the Seminoles will face another big test against North Carolina, a team that certainly has a penchant for throwing the ball around. The weakness on the Florida State D? Its secondary, which has struggled across the board this season. Despite beating USF last week, coach Jimbo Fisher was less than thrilled with the overall performance. Florida State is giving up an average of 6.78 yards per play, ranking No. 122 in the nation. North Carolina is averaging 7.4 yards per play on offense. This matchup, along with Dalvin Cook against the UNC run defense, are the two biggest things to watch in this game.
Is Miami for real? Miami is 3-0 start and ranked No. 14 headed into its league opener against Georgia Tech. Truth be told, the fast start has been a little bit under the radar because the victories have come against so-so teams. But with conference play opening, we are all about to find out whether Miami is for real. Coach Mark Richt went 13-2 against Georgia Tech during his time at Georgia, so there is plenty of familiarity. What the Hurricanes need to show is their hot defensive start is not just a mirage (No. 1 scoring D, No. 2 total D, No. 3 rushing D). Facing a running team, this will be the perfect opportunity to make a point -- especially with rival Florida State looming next weekend.
Can Wake Forest go 5-0? Many prognosticators believed Wake Forest would have a turnaround season in 2016. But how many predicted a 4-0 start? The Deacs have shown they can actually run the ball this season, and they have gotten solid quarterback play from John Wolford and Kendall Hinton to match another top-notch defensive group. NC State, though, presents the biggest challenge to date. The last time Wake Forest started the season 5-0 was in 2006. That also happens to be the last time the Deacs won in Raleigh, where they play Saturday.
What will Syracuse receiver Amba Etta-Tawo do against the Notre Dame secondary? Before arriving at Syracuse, Etta-Tawo's best season at Maryland was his first year in 2013, when he caught 31 passes for 500 yards and two touchdowns. He already has surpassed those numbers in FOUR games. Etta-Tawo leads the nation with 706 yards on 40 receptions, scoring five touchdowns to become Eric Dungey's favorite receiver in the new fast-paced Orange offense. Notre Dame ranks No. 88 in passing defense and has struggled limiting big plays all year. Etta-Tawo should be in position to make some plays downfield for the Orange.