News

ACC & Big 12 Week 8 Preview: ACC unbeatens square off in Death Valley showdown

In the eighth week of the college football season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are making visits throughout ACC and Big 12 country, meeting with fans across both conferences in advance of the Camping World Bowl on December 28.

Here’s a quick look at some of the top games on the schedule this weekend:

No. 16 NC State (5-0, 2-0 ACC) at No. 3 Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC) – 3:30 p.m. on ESPN 

The Wolfpack and the Tigers are both looking to keep their perfect records intact this weekend as the unbeaten meet at Death Valley. Overall, Clemson has a 57-28-1 lead in the all-time series against NC State, which dates back to 1899. The Tigers hold a six-game win streak over the Pack, including a 38-31 victory last season in Raleigh.

NC State is coming off a 28-25 win over Boston College last weekend. The Pack feature a fairly balanced offense as they have 188 rush and 188 pass attempts this season. In the last three seasons under offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz, NC State has rushed the ball 51.7 percent of the time and thrown 48.3 percent of the time. Quarterback Ryan Finley leads the pass game with 324.2 yards per game, the sixth-most in the FBS.

Saturday will be Clemson’s homecoming game, which historically has been a celebration, as the Tigers have won 77 percent of their homecoming games since 1922. After routing Wake Forest last week, the Tigers became the only team in ACC history to start 6-0 in four consecutive seasons. Statistically, Clemson boasts the No. 4 rushing offense in the nation (280.8 yards per game), a unit that is led by running back Travis Etienne who ranks fifth in the nation in rushing yards per game (126.8). Clemson’s defense also ranks third in the nation, holding opponents just 261.2 total yards per game.

No.
9 Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) at TCU (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) – 3:30 p.m. on ABC

Oklahoma is taking on the Horned Frogs this weekend in a rematch of last year’s Big 12 Championship game. Oklahoma leads in the overall series 13-5 dating back to 1944. Five of the seven contests since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012 have been decided by a touchdown or less, although Oklahoma heads into Saturday with a four-game win streak over the Horned Frogs.

Saturday’s matchup will pit the Big 12’s top scoring offense in Oklahoma (48 points per game) against the league’s top scoring defense in TCU (20.2 points per game).

The Sooners are coming off bye week, but suffered their first loss of the season to Texas in the Red River Showdown two weeks ago. Oklahoma scored 21 straight points in the fourth quarter to tie the Longhorns at 45, but Texas kicked a 40-yard field goal with nine seconds to go for a 48-45 win. Quarterback Kyler Murray was 19 for 26 passing for 304 yards and four touchdowns, and also rushed 11 times for 92 yards, including a 67-yard score.

TCU is entering Saturday’s contest on the heels of a 17-14 home loss to Texas Tech. Despite falling short, the Horned Frogs outgained the Red Raiders 411 yards to 353, as quarterback Shawn Robinson completed 26 of 45 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns. Robinson also ran seven times for a team-high 42 yards. Safety Ridwan Issahaku led the defense with nine total tackles against Texas Tech, including seven solo tackles.

North Carolina (1-4, 1-2 ACC) at Syracuse (4-2, 1-2 ACC) – 12:20 p.m. on ACC Network

After three consecutive road games, Syracuse will return to Carrier Dome this weekend as it takes on the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Orange and the Tar Heels are meeting for just the fifth time in series history and the first time since Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013. In each of the last four meetings, the visiting team has been victorious.

North Carolina has yet to win a road game this season and holds an 0-3 record away from Kenan Memorial Stadium. True freshman quarterback Cade Fortin (13-24, 112 yards on the season) made his first collegiate start last weekend against Virginia Tech but was injured on the final play of the first half. As of Thursday, it’s unclear whether he or Nathan Elliott (86-144, 920 yards on the season), the Tar Heels’ starter during the first four games, will get the call against Syracuse this weekend.

Syracuse will also be celebrating homecoming this weekend. Dating back to 1949, the Orange are 40-28 in homecoming games. Though Syracuse started the season strong with four consecutive wins (Western Michigan, Wagner, Florida State, UConn), it dropped its two most recent games, road contests against Clemson and Pittsburgh, respecitvely. The Syracuse offense features quarterback Eric Dungey, who ranks No. 4 at the FBS level for career total offense at 292.3 yards per game.

Here are a few additional games our representatives will be taking in this week:

Virginia (4-2, 2-1 ACC) at Duke (5-1, 1-1 ACC) – 12:30 p.m. on ACC Network
Wake Forest (3-3, 0-2 ACC) at Florida State (3-3, 1-3 ACC) – 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Kansas (2-4, 0-3 Big 12) at Texas Tech (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) – 3:30 p.m. on FS1

Click here to check out previews of games from earlier this season.