You could say the ACC has been “playing out the string” these past few games, especially since the conference championship game has been essentially decided for over 2 weeks now. There’s a little something extra this week, though: it’s “rivalry week” all over college football, and 10 ACC squads are sure to have some additional juice as they face-off against their most hated opponent.
ACC Power Rankings
1. Miami Hurricanes (10-0, 7-0 ACC) (Last Week: 1)
Last week: vs. Virginia Cavaliers (6-5) - W 44-28
Next week: at Pittsburgh Panthers (4-7)
Coming off the high of back-to-back emotional victories, the Canes escaped a close call at home against UVA. Down 28-14 early in the 3rd quarter, UM rattled off 30 straight points to send the Cavaliers home empty handed. Malik Rosier recorded 4 total touchdowns and the defense brought out the Turnover Chain 3 times. The Canes stay in the Playoff hunt and will look to finish the regular season undefeated on Friday at Pitt.
2. Clemson Tigers (10-1, 7-1 ACC) (Last Week: 2)
Last week: vs. Citadel Bulldogs (5-6) - W 61-3
Next week: at South Carolina Gamecocks (8-3)
There’s something to be said for scheduling an FCS program that’s not even .500 for the second to last week of the season as a pseudo bye week while most teams are playing conference games, but I’ll let you, the reader, decide what that is on your own. It’s not that I would call Clemson “soft” or anything. No, I would never do that. The Tigers wage a war for the hearts and minds of the people of South Carolina next week against the Gamecocks.
3. Virginia Tech Hokies (8-3, 4-3 ACC) (Last Week: 5)
Last week: vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (4-7) - W 20-14
Next week: at Virginia Cavaliers (6-5)
This VT team has been a victim of the Miami hangover that has also seen to the demise of Duke and Syracuse. Last week, the Hokies lost to an average Georgia Tech team, and this week, needed a last minute goal line stand to avoid an upset at home against a terrible Pitt team. Here’s another in-state rivalry game to be played next week, this time for the state of Virginia.
4. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-4, 4-3 ACC) (Last Week: 6)
Last week: vs. #25 North Carolina State Wolfpack (7-4) - W 30-24
Next week: vs. Duke Blue Devils (5-6)
Add on 3 more TD’s for John Wolford as his astounding year continues, and all 3 went to receiver Tabari Hines in Wake’s upset win over N.C. State. The Demon Deacons earned their first regular-season victory over a Top 25 opponent since 2011. Typically known for their sub-par offense, this Wake team is also the highest scoring in program history and Dave Clawson is going to give Mark Richt a run for his money in the ACC Coach of the Year race.
5. N.C. State Wolfpack (7-4, 5-2 ACC) (Last Week: 3)
Last Week: at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-4) - L 24-30
Next Week: vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (3-8)
N.C. State’s loss to Wake ensures that they cannot hit the 10-win milestone this year, which was Dave Doeren’s goal for the team in 2017. The Wolfpack ran 94 offensive plays, had a 22 minute advantage in time of possession, and out-gained Wake 502-334, but couldn’t overcome 2 turnovers in the endzone late in the fourth quarter. In a clash for superiority on Tobacco Road, N.C. State takes on UNC next week.
6. Boston College Eagles (6-5, 3-4 ACC) (Last Week: 7)
Last week: at Connecticut Huskies (3-8) - W 39-16
Next week: at Syracuse Orange (4-7)
It was a nice novelty win inside Fenway Park for the Eagles last weekend over the Huskies. While 1,000 yards for AJ Dillon in his freshman season is a nice accomplishment, I think the Eagles would rather celebrate their fourth bowl game in five years, making Steve Addazio the first BC coach to ever achieve that feat in his first five years on the job.
7. Louisville Cardinals (7-4, 4-4 ACC) (Last Week: 8)
Last week: vs. Syracuse Orange (4-7) - W 56-10
Next week: at Kentucky Wildcats (7-4)
Louisville had a whopping 12 plays for over 20 yards against Syracuse, and Lamar Jackson had his school-record 11th straight game with over 300 total yards. Jackson also passed Chris Redman to become the Cardinals’ all-time leader in yardage with 12,474, which moved him into third place in ACC history. Get hyped for the Governor’s Cup game against an over .500 Kentucky squad.
8. Virginia Cavaliers (6-5, 3-4 ACC) (Last Week: 9)
Last week: at #2 Miami Hurricanes (10-0) - L 28-44
Next week: vs. #24 Virginia Tech Hokies (8-3)
Kurt Benkert played with his hair on fire, while the defense forced some timely turnovers, but UVA’s upset-bid at Miami sputtered out in the fourth quarter. Led by Benkert’s program record 384 passing yards, the Wahoos actually outgained Miami, 439-358, and had two separate 14 point leads. What really changed the momentum of the game was Benkert’s pick six thrown right to Jaquan Johnson, plus Miami’s pass rush teeing off in the fourth quarter.
9. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-5, 4-4 ACC) (Last Week: 4)
Last week: at Duke Blue Devils (5-6) - L 20-43
Next week: vs. #7 Georgia Bulldogs (10-1)
Outside of Clemson and Miami this year, the ACC has been wildly inconsistent. Everytime I move a team up thinking they could be the real deal, they end up losing the following week. Georgia Tech was the latest victim of that curse, as they got stomped by Duke last week. In what was a 20-20 tie game at half, the Blue Devils absolutely blew the doors off GT in the second half, scoring 23 unanswered points. Now, the Yellow Jackets have to upset Georgia just to make a bowl game this season.
10. Florida State Seminoles (4-6, 3-5 ACC) (Last Week: 10)
Last week: vs. Delaware State Hornets (2-8) - W 77-6
This week: at Florida Gators (4-6)
Florida State went with the same “definitely not soft” scheduling route as Clemson and scheduled an even worse FCS team to beat up on the week before they sealed up their Playoff run against UF and then the ACC Championship. Well, that was the pre-season plan at least. That FCS scheduling actually may have really had a tangible impact on the team’s season this year: without it, FSU wouldn’t still have a chance at a bowl.
11. Duke Blue Devils (5-6, 2-5 ACC) (Last Week: 12)
Last week: vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-5) - W 43-20
Next week: at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-4)
Duke snapped their 6 game losing streak after beating GT last week, and also scored over 20 points for the first time since September. The Blue Devils racked up 500 yards of offense on the Yellow Jackets, led by 288 total yards and 3 TD’s from Daniel Jones. David Cutcliffe’s squad concludes the regular season at Wake Forest and can clinch bowl eligibility with a win.
12. Syracuse Orange (4-7, 2-5 ACC) (Last Week: 11)
Last week: at Louisville Cardinals (7-4) - L 10-56
Next week: vs. Boston College Eagles (6-5)
Eric Dungey’s absence was really felt this week, as the Orange struggled to 10 points on a terrible Louisville defense. Backups Zach Mahoney and Rex Culpepper each threw 2 interceptions and the Cuse defense has now given up an outrageous 1,461 yards combined in their past 2 games. Dino Babers was mentioned for some top-tier coaching vacancies earlier in the season, but it’s clear he still has more work to do to rebuild this Syracuse program.
13. Pittsburgh Panthers (4-7, 2-5 ACC) (Last Week: 13)
Last week: at Virginia Tech Hokies (8-3) - L 14-20
Next week: vs. #2 Miami Hurricanes (10-0)
Freshman QB Kenny Pickett came in for Ben DiNucci in the second quarter and almost led a Panther uprising against Virginia Tech. Pitt looked like they had taken the lead, but Jester Weah’s knee was ruled down at the 2 yard line on a 75 yard catch and run with about a minute left in the game. Four straight Pitt plays were stoned from there as the Panthers were dealt another disappointing loss this season. Their bowl game hopes also died on the VT goal line. Pitt will play their fake bowl game against Miami this week.
14. North Carolina Tar Heels (3-8, 1-6 ACC) (Last Week: 14)
Last week: vs. Western Carolina Catamounts (7-5) - W 34-31
Next week: at North Carolina State Wolfpack (7-4)
UNC showed they were better than an over .500 FCS opponent, which I guess could be considered progress in a season where playing the Tar Heels was essentially like playing a D-II school. Nathan Elliott fired 4 TD’s and, baring a complete collapse against rival N.C. State next week, looks like he will take the QB job into the off-season after starting the year as the third-stringer.