Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 8:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Syracuse at Miami. The eighth-ranked Hurricanes (5-0, 3-0) are the only unbeaten team remaining in the conference, using a most unlikely late rally to beat Georgia Tech . There’s little chance they take Syracuse (4-3, 2-1) lightly after the Orange pulled the season’s biggest upset by knocking off then-No. 2 Clemson. Miami coach Mark Richt says he “would hope that we would be ready no matter what, but you can’t deny what happened.” Syracuse QB Eric Dungey, who ranks second in the ACC in total offense (352 ypg), figures to test a Miami defense that’s fourth in the league, allowing 4.85 yards per play.
BEST MATCHUP: Boston College rushing offense vs. Virginia defense. BC freshman A.J. Dillon burst onto the scene last week, rushing for 272 yards and four touchdowns in an upset at Louisville . The Cavaliers haven’t allowed more than 211 yards rushing in any game this season, and have held four of their six opponents to 168 yards rushing or fewer. Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall says his players “have to have a stomach for contact in this kind of game.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The top-heavy Atlantic Division is showing significantly more depth than in years past. In the previous three seasons, Clemson, Florida State and Louisville combined to go 36-0 against the other four teams in the division — N.C. State, Wake Forest, Boston College and Syracuse. Not this year. N.C. State knocked off the Seminoles and Cardinals before BC beat Louisville and Syracuse stunned the Tigers last week.
LONG SHOT: History suggests Pittsburgh could at least keep things close at Duke. The Panthers — eight-point underdogs — have won three of the four meetings since they joined the ACC in 2013, finding ways to beat both good and poor Duke teams. Both teams are slumping, with Pitt (2-5, 0-3) losing four of five and the Blue Devils (4-3, 1-3) dropping three in a row since their 4-0 start.
IMPACT PLAYER: Miami RB Travis Homer ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns in his first start for the Hurricanes, who lost top rusher Mark Walton to a season-ending ankle injury. In the process, he went from backup to the ninth-leading rusher in the conference. He’ll try to keep going against a Syracuse run defense that held Clemson to just 113 yards rushing.