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Around the ACC: How Secure Is Clemson’s Reign at the Top?



When Notre Dame was added to the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule for 2020, most considered the Fighting Irish to be the top contender to Clemson’s status as the overwhelming favorite to represent the conference in the College Football Playoff.

But four weeks into the 2020 season, another contender for that crown has emerged.

Miami (3-0, 2-0) comes into Week 5 ranked No. 7 by the Associated Press Top 5 and the Hurricanes will go into Death Valley to face No. 1 Clemson (3-0, 2-0) as the Tigers’ highest rated league opponent in three years.

The game matches the highest combined ranking of league teams in ACC history, and it was also Clemson and Miami the last time that mark was reached, in the 2017 ACC Championship Game, when the Tigers roughed up the then-No. 7 Hurricanes, 38-3, on the way to their third straight ACC title.

Clemson’s stranglehold of success on the ACC has now reached five straight years in which the Tigers have won the league, and while a Miami victory on Saturday certainly wouldn’t bring it to an end, the fact that there are three other teams in the top 10 in conference play will put a much stiffer premium on taking care of business for the Tigers than they’ve had recently.

Last season, Clemson went 8-0 in league play and finished three games ahead of 5-3 Louisville in the Atlantic Division. In 2018, the 8-0 Tigers were two games up on 6-2 Syracuse at the end of the regular season.

The divisions are gone for 2020, and it appears that Clemson’s status as the walking-away favorite for the league title is as well. That being said, the Tigers are still 14-point favorites over the Hurricanes on Saturday as they look to extend their home winning streak to 25 games since last losing at Death Valley against Pitt in 2016.

The battle of top 10 ACC squads will happen in prime time, with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on ABC, the fourth time in five weeks that the ACC has taken the prime broadcast spot on the ESPN family of networks.


Four-star safety Cyrus Fagan has left the Florida State team as a youth movement appears to be breaking out in Tallahassee.

Fagan was a four-star prospect in the recruiting Class of 2017 out of Daytona Beach, Florida, but had been passed on the Seminoles’ depth chart by sophomore Renardo Green.

Fagan had 41 tackles in eight games in 2019, in his most productive season in Tallahassee. He also had one interceptions, two passes defended and a fumble recovery.

He should be able to graduate and transfer to another team for the 2021 season.

Fagan’s decision comes as new Florida State head coach Mike Norvell has chosen to features some younger players across the board after an 0-2 start to the season.

True freshman quarterback Tate Rodemaker, who chose Florida State over Pitt in the Class of 2020, started for the Seminoles in their win over Jacksonville State on Saturday.

The Seminoles have a tough test on Saturday, as they’ll visit No. 10 Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0), as the Irish are coming off a two-week hiatus thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak. That game will be broadcast at 7:30 p.m. on NBC.

• Senior safety Myles Wolfolk is leaving North Carolina and has entered the NCAA transfer portal, after being ruled academically ineligible earlier this fall.

Wolfolk was UNC’s starting strong safety in 2019, but a season-ending injury cut things short after just five games for the Maryland native. Wolfolk also started four games in 2017 and three games in 2018, providing quality experience for the Tar Heels’ defense.

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound safety was ruled academically ineligible in September. It was speculated that he might simply begin preparations for the 2021 NFL Draft, but 247 Sports reported on Wednesday that Wolfolk will try the transfer portal first. He’ll have one season of eligibility remaining.

The No. 8 Tar Heels (2-0, 2-0) will host No. 18 Virginia Tech (2-0, 2-0) in the first of two meetings between ranked ACC teams this weekend. That game will kick off at noon and be broadcast on ABC.




7 p.m. Louisville at Georgia Tech, ESPN


Noon NC State at Virginia, ACC Network
12:30 p.m. Duke at Syracuse, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh

Men’s soccer


6 p.m. No. 3 Clemson at North Carolina, ESPNU
7 p.m. Louisville at No. 5 Virginia, ACC Network Extra
8 p.m. Duke at NC State, ACC Network

7 p.m. Virginia Tech at No. 2 Pitt, ACC Network Extra
7:30 p.m. UAB at No. 1 Wake Forest, ACC Network

Syracuse at Notre Dame, 1 p.m. Sunday, ACC Network Extra


Miami at Clemson, 4 p.m. Friday, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh
Syracuse at Louisville, 6 p.m. Friday, ACC Network
Duke at North Carolina, 6:30 p.m. Friday, ACC Network Extra
Boston College at Pitt, 7 p.m. Friday, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh

Boston College at Pitt, 7 p.m. Saturday, ACC Network Extra
Syracuse at Louisville, 7 p.m. Saturday, ACC Network Extra

Duke at North Carolina, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, ACC Network

Women’s soccer

Virginia Tech at No. 11 Duke, 7 p.m. Friday, ACC Network Extra

Navy at No. 14 Pitt, 1:30 p.m. Sunday, ACC Network
Wake Forest at No. 3 Clemson, 3:3o p.m. Sunday, ACC Network

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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