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Weekend rewind: ACC

9/26/2011

Here’s your weekly look back at what happened in the ACC and a sneak preview of the top games going forward:

The good: Clemson’s second straight upset of a Top-25 team. In the past 23 years, Clemson has only defeated ranked opponents on back-to-back weekends one other time. The Tigers have knocked off defending national champ Auburn and defending Atlantic Division champ Florida State. Up next: The defending ACC champs, Virginia Tech.

The bad: NC State’s offense. For all of the talk about how injuries have been holding the Wolfpack back, there’s really no explanation for NC State’s three turnovers, minus-26 yards rushing and six allowed sacks against Cincinnati.

The ugly: ACC letdowns. No need to rehash it extensively here. NC State’s loss to Cincinnati in a nationally televised Thursday night game, Miami’s loss to Kansas State, Virginia’s loss to Southern Miss, and Maryland’s whiff against Temple all added up to humiliation for the ACC.

The comeback: Welcome back, Montel Harris. Boston College’s record-setting running back finally made his much-anticipated debut this season after sitting out with a knee injury. The ACC’s preseason Player of the Year converted a fourth-and-1 to keep the Eagles’ first scoring drive alive in the red zone. He finished with nine carries for 27 yards.

Top three games of Week 5:

No. 13 Clemson at No. 11 Virginia Tech: Two questions will be answered in this game: 1. Can Clemson not only handle its success, but continue it on the road in one of the ACC’s most challenging venues? And 2. After taking care of business against four weaker nonconference opponents, is Virginia Tech ready and good enough to put together a complete game against ranked competition?

Wake Forest at Boston College: The Eagles are trying to build some momentum after their first win of the season, and Wake Forest is fresh off a bye week and looking for its second Atlantic Division win. It’s a critical game for the bowl hopes of both programs.

North Carolina at East Carolina: Road trips to ECU haven’t been easy for ACC teams, but this is a game the Tar Heels should be expected to win. The Pirates’ scoring defense is allowing 32 points per game, and their rushing offense is 111th in the country with just 83.7 yards per game. UNC can’t afford to let its loss to Georgia Tech beat it twice.

Why isn’t Georgia Tech listed? Because based on what we’ve seen from NC State’s porous defense, so far, the Yellow Jackets’ offense should continue to pad its statistics. The other three games should be closer and more entertaining, and Wake at BC is a divisional game.