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Back and forth in the ACC: Weeks 4/5

9/27/2010

Here’s your weekly look back -- and forward -- in the ACC.

The good: Defenses. Virginia Tech’s defense handed Boston College its first shutout in Chestnut Hill since 1998. The Eagles turned it over three times and didn’t get past midfield in the second half. NC State’s defense made enough plays that the Wolfpack were able to control the clock -- an amazing feat against Paul Johnson’s run-based offense. Miami’s D held Pitt to just 11 first downs, 232 yards and three turnovers. UNC’s depleted D, led by linebacker Bruce Carter, was the difference in the win at Rutgers. And Florida State earned its first ACC shutout since 2006.

The relentless: North Carolina. The Tar Heels trailed Rutgers 10-0 and could have easily folded, allowing an 0-3 start to snowball into a dreadful season, but behind the leadership of Carter and quarterback T.J. Yates, UNC proved it’s not over yet.

The unhappy: Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson and Boston College quarterback Dave Shinskie. Johnson was particularly peeved about a blocked punt for a touchdown, and Shinskie was benched after two interceptions and a fumble.

The ugly: Duke and Wake Forest offenses. The two teams combined to convert on just 4-of-22 third downs. Duke turned it over five times and had the ball for only 20 minutes.

Top three games of Week 5:

1. Miami at Clemson: It’s a statement game between two of the top teams in the ACC, and the Hurricanes are No. 11 in the country in scoring defense right now at 13 points per game. Clemson has had a bye week to prepare, though, and the Tigers’ defense will be looking to pressure turnover-prone quarterback Jacory Harris into more mistakes.

2. Virginia Tech at NC State: If the Hokies don’t pick it up on offense, they’ll never be able to hang with Russell Wilson & Co. NC State is No. 19 in the country right now in both scoring offense (37.75 points per game) and passing offense (289.25). The rebuilt Hokies D is coming off a shutout at Boston College, and has allowed 20.25 points per game.

3. Notre Dame at Boston College: Both programs need a win, and the Eagles need a quarterback, but it’s a storied, traditional rivalry nonetheless. Notre Dame has had problems running the ball and stopping the run. It could be a good day for Montel Harris.