A look at things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference for Week 12:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 12 North Carolina at Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels (9-1, 6-0, No. 17 CFP) are rolling with nine straight wins and can clinch a trip to the ACC title game with a win in either of their last two games or a loss by Pittsburgh in either of its last two games. The Hokies (5-5, 3-3) are sure to be ready on an emotional day for longtime coach Frank Beamer’s final home game. ”We’re not worried about it being Frank Beamer’s last game and how fired up they’re going to be,” UNC linebacker Jeff Schoettmer said. ”We understand what we have on the line and how big our stakes are for this game.”
BEST MATCHUP: Louisville’s defense vs. Pittsburgh’s offense. The Cardinals (6-4, 5-2) carry a four-game winning streak into their final ACC game. They’ve held three opponents during that stretch to fewer than 300 yards, and rank No. 14 nationally in total defense (311.4). The homestanding Panthers (7-3, 5-1) don’t exactly have a high-scoring attack, ranking 11th in scoring (27 points) and ninth in total defense (376.5) behind ACC receptions leader Tyler Boyd.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: North Carolina’s offense is clicking at a historic pace. The Tar Heels own the league record for points in consecutive ACC games with 125 after beating Duke 66-31 and Miami 59-21. That’s three points better than the old mark, set by Florida State in 1995.
LONG SHOT: Could three-win Virginia prolong Duke’s late-season slide? The Cavaliers (3-7, 2-4) hung tough in one-possession losses to Miami and Louisville in their past two games. But this is more about the Blue Devils (6-4, 3-3), who are now in a tailspin since losing to Miami on the eight-lateral kickoff for a final-play touchdown return. They gave up 66 points in the loss to North Carolina the following week, followed by a 31-13 loss at home against Pittsburgh.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Clemson DE Shaq Lawson could be a handful for Wake Forest. Lawson, who is second in the league in tackles for losses and tied for third with 7.5 sacks, will face a Demon Deacons team that ranks 100th or worse in three key offensive categories. Lawson had six tackles, including a career-best four behind the line of scrimmage, in last year’s win in Winston-Salem.
Compiled by AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard and Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.