Clemson-Texas A&M matchup headlines ACC’s Week 2 slate
Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 2:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 2 Clemson at Texas A&M. For Jimbo Fisher, there’s no getting away from the Tigers. Fisher left Florida State for College Station this offseason, and his second game as the Aggies coach comes against his old perennial Atlantic Division nemesis — prompting Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to joke: “Seems I can’t get rid of him.” Swinney’s Tigers beat Fisher’s Seminoles teams in each of the last three years on their way to division and conference championships. And all eyes will once again be on Clemson’s quarterback situation, after incumbent starter Kelly Bryant accounted for two touchdowns in the rout of Furman while freshman Trevor Lawrence threw three touchdown passes in relief.
BEST MATCHUP: Pittsburgh offense vs. Penn State defense. The Panthers took care of business in their opener against Albany, gaining 407 total yards — including 238 on the ground — in that victory. Look for Pitt to have something special in store for one of its fiercest rivals, one that showed signs of vulnerability in the first weekend. Penn State allowed 451 total yards and flirted with an upset loss to Appalachian State before rallying to win in overtime.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Five ACC teams struggled to move the chains in their openers and failed to convert even a third of their third-down chances. Florida State converted 5 of 16 (31.3 percent) in the loss to Virginia Tech. Louisville converted 4 of 14 (28.6 percent) in the loss to Alabama. North Carolina converted 4 of 17 (23.5 percent) in a loss at California. Duke converted 2 of 9 (22.2 percent) in a win against Army. And Virginia Tech converted just 3 of 14 (21.4 percent) in the FSU win, ranking 116th out of 125 Bowl Subdivision teams.
LONG SHOT: North Carolina shouldn’t take its trip to East Carolina for granted. The Pirates always seems to play its best against its instate ACC rivals, and after a loss to North Carolina A&T of the FCS, they’re desperate. North Carolina is a roughly 15-point road favorite, but some issues popped up during its sloppy opening loss at California, losing four turnovers and drawing 13 penalties for 124 yards. And don’t forget: East Carolina won 70-41 in the Tar Heels’ last trip to Greenville in 2014.
IMPACT PLAYER: N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley could put up some big numbers against Georgia State. Even with one of his top receivers out with a hamstring injury, Finley threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns in the opener against James Madison. Now Finley is facing a Panthers team that struggled with Kennesaw State of the FCS, allowing its quarterback to complete 63 percent of his passes.
Compiled by AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard and Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.