Inside the ACC 09.27.14


• Florida State’s offensive line, which was the best in the country last season, has struggled, despite returning four starters. Clemson’s defense got after backup quarterback Sean Maguire, sacking him five times, but also limited FSU’s ground game to 27 yards on 13 attempts.

If N.C. State has any chance of duplicating its 2012 home upset of FSU, it has to find the same soft spots in FSU’s front. Getting the more mobile Winston back, after a one-game suspension, will help the Seminoles’ offense (32.2 points per game), which has not been nearly explosive this season as it was a year ago (51.6 points per game).

• Clemson’s making the right move in going with freshman Deshaun Watson at quarterback, in favor of senior Cole Stoudt. Watson’s ability to run and make plays on the move gives the Tigers’ offense another needed dimension.

Clemson doesn’t have the same explosive talent at the skill positions that it has enjoyed in recent seasons. After a disaster against Georgia, the emergence of the defense against FSU was the best possible news for coach Dabo Swinney.

• It’s starting to get bleak for Miami coach Al Golden, who’s under fire for the Hurricanes’ problems on defense. Miami gave up 343 rushing yards to Nebraska in a 41-31 road loss. It was the fourth time in Golden’s tenure (since 2011) the Canes allowed more than 300 rushing yards. From 1998 to 2008, that only happened once in a span of 118 games, according to the AP’s research.

Duke ran for 358 yards in last year’s 48-30 win over the Canes in Durham. Senior Josh Snead had 138 yards on just nine carries.

Three to watch

No. 1 FSU at N.C. State, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

The Seminoles (3-0) survived against Clemson without quarterback Jameis Winston. The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner returns to the lineup against the Wolfpack (4-0), who have won the past two home meetings with FSU.

UNC at Clemson, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

Just the fourth game between original ACC members since 2003, the Tigers (1-2) have won the last meetings in Death Valley by an average of 33 points.

Duke at Miami, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Blue Devils (4-0) kick off their pursuit of another Coastal Division title at Miami (2-2), which has struggled on defense, especially against the run.

Number to know

7 ACC wins by N.C. State over Florida State, the most by any conference team since the Seminoles joined the league in 1992.

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