Outside of Virginia’s minor upset over Duke, the ACC was again ruled by the favorites. After the conference’s 2 big showdowns last week, the top 2 contenders for each division have been established, while one ACC coach could find his way out of a job sooner rather than later.
ACC Power Rankings
1. Clemson Tigers (6-0, 4-0 ACC) (Last Week: 1)
Last week: vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-2)- W 28-14
Next week: at Syracuse Orange (3-3)
Clemson kept on rolling this weekend, this time easily dispatching a very respectable Wake Forest team that caused all kinds of trouble for FSU the week prior. The Tigers were up 28-0 and playing with their backup quarterback midway through the 4th quarter before 2 late Demon Deacons TD’s. Clemson spreads the ball around to a deep stable of capable playmakers and defensive coordinator Brent Venables has the defense humming. The Tigers go on the road to Syracuse next weekend.
2. Miami Hurricanes (4-0, 2-0 ACC) (Last Week: 2)
Last week: at Florida State Seminoles (1-3) - W 24-20
Next week: vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-1)
The classic Miami-Florida State rivalry delivered yet again, leading to another nail-biting finish. This time, it was the Hurricanes that came out on top, as Darrell Langham’s 23 yard TD catch with 6 seconds remaining was the difference between the two programs. Miami still has issues with slow offensive starts and run defense, but Mark Richt proved he could win big games in tough environments. Losing Mark Walton will no doubt be a blow, however, the Canes have to feel good about where they sit in the Coastal division right now, and could give themselves even more of a boost with a win over GT this weekend.
3. N.C. State Wolfpack (5-1, 3-0 ACC) (Last Week: 5)
Last Week: vs #17 Louisville Cardinals (4-2) - W 39-25
Next Week: at Pittsburgh Panthers (2-4)
You have to love the way Dave Doeren has his Wolfpack playing this season. They are able to take care of the ball while still being explosive on offense, as they put up over 500 yards on Louisville and QB Ryan Finley has thrown 0 interceptions this season. The defense is able to pressure the opposing QB and make big plays when they need to: NC State sacked Lamar Jackson 4 times and had a game-sealing pick 6 when Louisville had the ball with a chance to tie late in the 4th quarter. The real takeaway though? Clemson-NC State just got a heck of a lot more interesting.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1, 1-1 ACC) (Last Week: 4)
Last week: at Boston College Eagles (2-4) - W 23-10
Next week: BYE
Josh Jackson threw for 322 yards and a touchdown, including finding Sean Savoy nine times for 139 yards after #1 wideout Cam Phillips went down in the first quarter. RB Travon McMillian ran 17 times for 88 yards and added in a 23-yard touchdown to withstand a late BC rally. The Hokies get a bye next week before starting a 6 game stretch of ACC Coastal foes.
5. Louisville Cardinals (4-2, 1-2 ACC) (Last Week: 3)
Last week: at #24 North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-2) - L 25-39
Next week: vs. Boston College Eagles (2-4)
Louisville is in a bit of trouble. Last season, they showed an ability to consistently make big plays no matter the opponent. But so far this season, the big plays have been harder and harder to come by, and they’ve lost to both of the quality teams they’ve played (Clemson, NC State). With their bid for an Atlantic division title and appearance in the ACC Championship likely over, this season becomes mainly about going to a big bowl game and how well Lamar Jackson can improve as a passer for the NFL.
6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-1, 2-0 ACC) (Last Week: 6)
Last week: BYE
Next week: at #11 Miami Hurricanes (4-0)
TaQuon Marshall and the Yellow Jackets are well-rested coming off their bye week and have had an extra week to prepare for Mark Richt’s Hurricanes. Miami left Tallahassee battered with a few injuries and GT will look to take advantage of that this weekend.
7. Florida State Seminoles (1-3, 1-2 ACC) (Last Week: 7)
Last week: vs. #13 Miami Hurricanes (4-0) - L 20-24
This week: at Duke Blue Devils (4-2)
I really loved the way the Noles played in a back and fourth rivalry game. They showed a lot of heart with two great 4th quarter TD drives, but it really came down to who had the ball last, and unfortunately for FSU, that was Miami. Still, “showing heart” won’t do much to tide over a restless fanbase that has felt the program has been in decline since Jameis Winston left. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out for the Noles, as they are in unfamiliar territory at 1-3 and need to get it in gear just to make a bowl game. They won’t be getting a free win this weekend, as they head to Durham to play a solid Duke team.
8. Virginia Cavaliers (4-1, 1-0 ACC) (Last Week: 10)
Last week: vs. Duke Blue Devils (4-2) - W 28-21
Next week: at North Carolina Tar Heels (1-5)
This is a team that really wasn’t supposed to be very good, but Virginia is off to a 4-1 start, with solid wins over both Boise State and now Duke. QB Kurt Benkert has led an effective and efficient offense with a 64.1 completion percentage and 13 touchdowns to 3 interceptions, but it’s the defense that has really surprised. LB Micah Kiser, who led the ACC in tackles last year, has a team high 44 tackles and 5 sacks in 5 games for a very aggressive Cavaliers front seven. UVA looks to keep their momentum going versus a struggling UNC this weekend.
9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-2, 1-2 ACC) (Last Week: 8)
Last week: at #2 Clemson Tigers (6-0) - L 14-28
Next week: BYE
Wake Forest kind of got a raw deal, as they had to go on the road to the #2 team in the nation after a tough loss against FSU the week prior. Making matters worse was that starting QB John Wolford was injured late in the FSU game and was held out against the Tigers. The Demon Deacons were the latest team to be out-matched by Clemson, but displayed some grit posting 2 TD’s late to make the score respectable. Wake gets a bye next week to get healthy and sort things out after 2 straight ACC losses.
10. Duke Blue Devils (4-2, 1-2 ACC) (Last Week: 9)
Last week: at Virginia Cavaliers (4-1) - L 21-28
Next week: vs. Florida State Seminoles (1-3)
Similar to Wake, Duke started with 4 straight wins, but now finds themselves in a 2 game skid. QB Daniel Jones had the worst game of his career last week against Virginia, completing 33% of his passes and throwing 2 picks. Still, Duke got down to the UVA 30 yard line with under 2 minutes to play and a chance to tie, they just couldn’t quite finish the comeback. In a matchup of struggling teams, they’ll welcome FSU to Durham next week.
11. Syracuse Orange (3-3, 1-1 ACC) (Last Week: 11)
Last week: vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-4)- W 27-24
Next week: vs. #2 Clemson Tigers (6-0)
The Orange beat Pitt behind QB Eric Dungey, who threw for 365 yards and two TDs, adding another 48 yards and a TD on the ground. Our weekly blurb on the combo of Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips saw them combine for 13 catches for 152 yards and TD, a relatively modest output for their standards, but Dungey spread the ball around more this week to targets like Ravian Pierce and Devin Butler. They can give a team with a weak secondary a run for their money; that team is not Clemson, though.
12. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-4, 0-2 ACC) (Last Week: 12)
Last week: at Syracuse Orange (3-3) - L 24-27
Next week: vs. #20 North Carolina State Wolfpack (5-1)
The rollercoaster that is Pitt continues. They went back to a 2 QB system this week and both Max Browne and Ben DiNucci struggled to push the ball downfield to the receivers. An interesting wrinkle from coach Pat Narduzzi was utilizing All-ACC safety Jordan Whitehead out of the backfield, as Whitehead led the Panthers in carries and yards last week on an impressive 7 totes for 73 yards and a TD. It remains to be seen if the dual-threat of Whitehead can carry the Panthers to a win over a quality team, like Pitt will see next week against NC State.
13. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-5, 0-3 ACC) (Last Week: 13)
Last week: vs. #21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-1) - L 10-33
Next week: vs. Virginia Cavaliers (4-1)
I said last week that I was giving the Tar Heels one more chance and if they couldn’t get it together against ND, then I would move them to the bottom of the rankings. Well, I lied. While there’s definitely an argument that UNC is the worst team in the conference, I think they’re better than their record has shown so far and have lost to some really good teams. Still, QB Chazz Surratt hasn’t shown he can carry the team to wins on his own, which is something he’s going to have to do due to a weak run game and bad defense. The Tar Heels have been giving up 33 points and 466.8 yards per game and don’t look to be getting better anytime soon.
14. Boston College Eagles (2-4, 0-3 ACC) (Last Week: 14)
Last week: vs. #16 Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1) - L 10-23
Next week: at Louisville Cardinals (4-2)
I’m not sure what else the administration needs to see to fire Steve Addazio. He’s topped out at 7 wins, the program is getting worse, and he has yet to field a competent offense in his 5 seasons at BC. We’re 6 games in and the Eagles still look inept on the attack in 2017. You can’t run a football team that will only play one phase of the game. BC will be lucky to win 2 more games this season and they won’t start next week against Louisville.