Earlier today we gave you a sneak peek at Week 4 in the ACC. Now here is a quick look at the top three storylines to watch.
1. Clemson vs. FSU: Let the hype begin! This is your classic matchup between outstanding offense vs. outstanding defense. The Tigers have a plethora of playmakers between Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington, Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. They seemed to integrate Watkins into the lineup just fine last week, as Hopkins had seven catches for 95 yards; and Watkins had four for 52. Clemson is averaging 517 yards on offense, and has run 239 total plays -- more than any team in the ACC. Meanwhile, the Seminoles lead the nation this week in five major defensive categories: scoring defense (1 ppg, having allowed only a field goal in three games), rushing defense (33.67 ypg), total defense (103.3 ypg), passing defense (69.67 ypg) and pass efficiency defense. Bjoern Werner leads the nation with 6.5 sacks and will be a huge challenge for this revamped Clemson offensive line to contain. Bottom line: Clemson has not faced anybody as good as Florida State's D, and Florida State has not faced anybody as good as Clemson's O. Let the chess match begin!
2. Hello defense? Speaking of defense, the Noles are about the only team playing excellent defense in the ACC this season. Take a look around the league. Five different teams have allowed 40 or more points to be scored on them this season: Boston College, Miami, Virginia, Duke and Wake Forest. Virginia Tech, which was supposed to have an even better group than last year, allowed Pitt to score 35. I do not need to remind you that Pitt scored a combined 27 points in its first two games of the season. What in the name of Bud Foster is going on? The Hokies were plagued by poor tackling; Miami and Virginia are really young; Duke and Wake Forest ran into Top 10 buzzsaws, and BC just got itself into a shootout in the opener. Still, there have got to be better performances across the league on defense this week. There is good news for a few teams: Virginia Tech plays Bowling Green, a team ranked No. 112 in the nation in scoring offense; Duke plays one of the worst teams in the nation in Memphis and Wake plays Army, ranked No. 89 in scoring offense. As for Miami, the Jackets just dropped 56 on Virginia so I fear for the Canes.
3. Chance to get back respect. While there is really only one marquee game on the schedule this week, the ACC does have a chance to get some respectability back with two games against ranked opponents. The best shot is Virginia at No. 17 TCU, a team that struggled to put away Kansas last week. The Horned Frogs had four turnovers, including three fumbles from quarterback Casey Pachall. Each of those fumbles came at pretty costly times for TCU as well. There is no question this is a tough challenge for the Hoos. TCU continues to have one of the best defenses in the nation, and Virginia has struggled to find any consistency on offense, particularly in the run game. But TCU is not unbeatable, either, and does not present the same challenges as Georgia Tech. This is a huge opportunity for Virginia to make a national statement. In the other game, Maryland plays No. 8 West Virginia in a game where the Terps are going to be severely overmatched and a huge underdog. Virginia is the best hope for the ACC at an upset.