Let's take a sneak peek at the top three games in the ACC in Week 8, and the rest of the schedule.
Virginia Tech (4-3, 2-1) at No. 19 Clemson (5-1, 2-1). These two teams got quite familiar with each other last year, when they played twice -- once during the regular season and once in the ACC Championship Game. Clemson won both -- the only time in Virginia Tech history it lost to the same team twice in one season. Are the Hokies truly back, or did they get the benefit of playing a Duke team last week that was not quite ready for prime time? They got an incredible performance from running back J.C. Coleman, who ran for 183 yards against the Blue Devils. He will be a key to watch, as Clemson has struggled once again to stop the run, ranking No. 99 in the nation. Clemson, meanwhile, goes into the game off a bye and brings its own outstanding running back to the table in Andre Ellington. Virginia Tech also has struggled to slow down the run, so Ellington could be in line for a big game.
NC State (4-2, 1-1) at Maryland (4-2, 2-0). Your Atlantic Division leaders ladies and gentlemen -- Maryland! Bet you did not think this game would be critical in the race for the division crown back when the season started. But this is the ACC, so we always expect the unexpected. NC State has to win this game if it wants to keep pace in the race. The Wolfpack had a bye after their huge victory over then-No. 3 Florida State, so we will see if they can pick up where they left off and avoid any letdowns. They will face a huge test in slowing down Stefon Diggs, who had 239 all-purpose yards last week in a win over Virginia. Maryland, meanwhile, has to find a way to cut down on its turnovers to give itself a chance. The Terps rank No. 110 in the nation in turnover margin.
No. 14 Florida State (6-1, 3-1) at Miami (4-3, 3-1). It has been years since this game had the national spotlight, but this remains an intense in-state rivalry. Florida State has won three of the last four in the series and can become bowl eligible with a victory. Miami, meanwhile, could be without starting quarterback Stephen Morris, whose availability is in question because of a sprained ankle. Florida State will no doubt try to attack Miami on the ground with Chris Thompson, who is having a resurgent season after a back injury forced him out in 2011. The Hurricanes are giving up an average of 253.7 yards rushing, and until they figure out how to stop the run, this is going to be an area that will be attacked for the remainder of the season.
The rest of the schedule
North Carolina (5-2, 2-1) at Duke (5-2, 2-1). This will be the 99th meeting between the two programs. The Blue Devils are trying to win their first game over the rival Tar Heels since 2003, and their first in Durham since 1988. The question is whether Duke can rebound after blowing a 20-0 first-quarter lead on Virginia Tech. The player to watch will be North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard, who has 439 yards rushing in the last two weeks.
Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3) at Virginia (2-5, 0-3). These teams are mired with struggles right now. Virginia has the longest losing streak in the ACC (five straight defeats); Wake Forest has lost three of its last four. The Deacs were off last week and hope to be healthier going into this game, but recent suspensions have just added to what has been a tough season.
Boston College (1-5, 0-3) at Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3). The Eagles are still looking for their first win over an FBS team after getting blown out at Tallahassee. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, comes into this game off a bye. We will get our first chance to see interim defensive coordinator Charles Kelly in his new role. How much improvement will we see out of the defense?