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ACC Report: Hurricanes back in title hunt as they renew rivalry with Irish

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

Notre Dame will play five games annually against Atlantic Coast Conference teams starting no later than 2015.

But this season, the Fighting Irish have three ACC teams on their schedule.

Ninth-ranked Notre Dame (4–0) will take on Miami (4–1) on Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago as the programs play for the 25th time.

Hurricanes head coach Al Golden said the contest means a lot to Miami’s former players, but he wants his team to focus on the present.

Still, he acknowledged that anytime two once-marquee programs battle, it’s “special.”

“Obviously what makes it special is the tradition of both schools, the players that have come before us, the players and coaches that have built it,” Golden said on Wednesday’s ACC coaches teleconference. “It’s obviously our opportunity Saturday to rekindle that.”

The programs have combined for 13 national championships (eight by Notre Dame, five by Miami). But the Hurricanes’ 2002 title is the last of the bunch. Notre Dame hasn’t won a championship since 1988. The Fighting Irish lead the all-time series 16–7–1. They won the last meeting, 33–17 in 2010.

NO SCHEDULE CHANGES

When Notre Dame begins playing its five annual games against ACC foes, there will still be an eight-game conference schedule, the league announced on Wednesday.

The ACC considered a nine-game schedule with the 2013 additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse. There will be an 18-game schedule in basketball with teams having two primary partners to play twice a year.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement that maintaining the eight-game format continues to give teams “greater flexibility” in nonconference scheduling.

“With Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame joining us, it is an exciting time in our league,” Swofford said. “And our schools have made decisions that position us extremely well for the future.”

RENFREE’S STATUS UNKOWN

When Virginia visits Duke Saturday, the Cavaliers may not be the only team with quarterback issues.

Virginia sophomore Phillip Sims will make his first start as he replaces junior Michael Rocco.

Duke may have to turn to sophomore Anthony Boone because senior Sean Renfree injured his elbow in the Blue Devils’ 34–27 win over Wake Forest last Saturday.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe declined to give an update on Renfree’s status when asked on Wednesday. He said the first update will come when the Blue Devils release their injury report today. Renfree is fourth in the ACC in passing efficiency (147.9) and sixth in yards per game (256.4).

THOMAS NEEDS HELP

Virginia Tech junior quarterback Logan Thomas entered this season with hopes of breaking through on the national scene.

So far, it hasn’t worked that way.

Thomas ranks 10th out of 12 ACC starting quarterbacks in passing efficiency (124.5). He’s also ninth in passing yards per game (218.6).

Hokies coach Frank Beamer said that has more to do with the players around him than it does Thomas. Virginia Tech has four new starting offensive linemen. All-ACC running back David Wilson is playing for the New York Giants. And the Hokies lost the top two receivers in school history (Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin) to graduation.

“Sometimes you’re not sure where a receiver is going to be, and sometimes your quarterback doesn’t look as efficient as he could be,” Beamer said. “I’ve got every confidence in Logan. He’s a competitor. He’s a leader. He’s smart. So we just got to pick up around him and make sure we’re playing in a consistent fashion.”

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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