What to watch in the ACC: Week 4

As the title indicates, here’s a look at 10 things to keep an eye on this week:

1. Miami’s defense against Pitt’s playmakers. The Hurricanes will be tasked with slowing running back Dion Lewis, and receiver Jon Baldwin, who has 10 catches for 171 yards and touchdowns in two games. Miami is tied for 15th in the country in total defense, allowing 262 yards per game.

2. Turnovers at Heinz Field. They were Miami’s biggest enemy against Ohio State, as four interceptions contributed to one of the worst turnover margins in the country this week (minus-2). In order for Miami to stand a chance, it has to eliminate them from the playbook.

3. Time of possession in Atlanta and Durham. The option offenses of Army and Georgia Tech have both programs ranked among the nation’s top 25 in time of possession, and both NC State and Duke intend on playing their best defense by keeping their offenses on the field as long as possible. That will require some running by two pass-happy teams.

4. FSU’s rushing defense against Wake’s backs. The Deacs have struggled defensively but have the No. 7 rushing offense in the country with 283.67 yards per game. Florida State is No. 17 in the country in rushing defense allowing 82 yards per game.

5. Greg Schiano’s defense vs. UNC’s offense. Rutgers has the No. 3 scoring defense in the country, allowing just seven points per game. The Scarlet Knights are holding opponents to under 100 rushing yards, and 167.5 passing yards per game. UNC is No. 11 in the country in passing offense with 310.5 yards per game.

6. BC’s rushing defense against the Hokies’ loaded backfield. With or without Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech can run the ball -- as long as the offensive line holds up. Darren Evans and David Wilson helped beat ECU, but BC is third in the country in rushing defense, holding opponents to 54 yards per game. The Hokies are averaging 205 on the ground.

7. Injured quarterbacks. FSU quarterback Christian Ponder and Maryland quarterbacks Jamarr Robinson and Danny O’Brien have all been hurting this week. Ponder has a bruised triceps, Robinson has a sore throwing shoulder and O’Brien has a nagging ankle injury. All are expected to play, but will it affect their performances?

8. Scorecard vs. the Big East. It’s even right now at 1-1 between the two conferences, but the ACC has a chance to take the lead with games at Pittsburgh and Rutgers this week. The ACC can’t afford to lose anymore nonconference games, let alone to what’s perceived by many to be the weaker of the two leagues.

9. Virginia Tech redshirt freshman Antone Exum. He started and played most of the game at free safety in Tech’s nickel package. He had 10 tackles against East Carolina in his first career start.

10. Georgia Tech’s rushing offense vs. NC State’s rushing defense. The Wolfpack is allowing only 85. 33 rushing yards per game, but Georgia Tech is No. 3 in the country in rushing offense at 345 yards per game. Something’s gotta give.