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ACC Football Power Rankings: Week 2

The ACC was busy during an exciting opening weekend.

NCAA Football: Bethune Cookman at Miami
Lawrence Cager hauls in a pass during Miami’s win over Bethune-Cookman on Saturday.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Week: Week 1

Week 1 of College Football is in the books and, while we finally have some actual, concrete data to work with and evaluate the field, it’s important not to overreact too much to one game.

The conference went 10-4 overall in the opening stanza; however, the ACC had a 2-4 mark against Power 5 opponents, including coming up empty in all 3 ACC-SEC matchups. Yikes.

ACC Power Rankings

1. Clemson Tigers (1-0, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 2)

Last week: vs. Kent State Golden Flashes (0-1) - W 56-3

Next week: vs. #13 Auburn Tigers (1-0)

You could say Clemson had a pretty good weekend. The Tigers’ defense swarmed in their warm-up game against the Golden Flashes and get this: Kent State threw for one (one!) yard and achieved only 5 first downs all game. New Clemson QB Kelly Bryant shined his his debut, throwing for 236 yards and rushing for 77 more in just over 2 quarters of play. And with what went down during the FSU-Alabama game (discussed later), the Tigers are probably the new favorites in the ACC. They get the chance to prove it against #13 Auburn next week.

2. Florida State Seminoles (0-1, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 1)

Last week: vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (1-0) - L 7-24

This week: vs. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (0-1)

The Noles fought hard, but fell to the Tide in the end as so many others have. The defense looked like they could be special this season, but the offense and special teams left much to be desired. While that’s understandable against a team of Alabama’s caliber, it won’t get any easier for FSU’s attack with the news that QB Deondre Francois is out for the season after suffering a torn patella tendon in his knee. True freshman QB James Blackman is next in line, but he was known as a project that would take a few years to develop coming out of high school, so it’s fair to wonder if the Seminoles’ season is already in danger of spiraling out of control. Blackman has a game to get his feet wet against UL-Monroe before facing Miami in the annual rivalry game.

3. Miami Hurricanes (1-0, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 3)

Last week: vs. Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (0-1) - W 41-13

Next week: at Arkansas State Redwolves (0-1)

The Hurricanes rolled to a solid, if unspectacular win over FCS Bethune-Cookman on opening weekend. Missing open receivers, poor kick coverage, penalties, and an inability to get off the field on 3rd downs might not have made a difference against an FCS team, but those are the types of mistakes that separate good teams from great ones. Positive signs included Malik Rosier effectively utilizing the read option from the QB spot and the offensive line looking dominant in both the run and pass game. It may have been a product of not wanting to put too much on tape, but these Hurricanes still feel like very much of a mystery heading into their matchup against Arkansas State.

4. Louisville Cardinals (1-0, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 4)

Last week: at Purdue Boilermakers (0-1) - W 35-28

Next week: at North Carolina Tar Heels (0-1)

Well, some things never change: like a year ago, the Cardinals will go as far as Lamar Jackson can take them in 2017. Jackson was the Louisville offense on Saturday against Purdue, accounting for 485 of the Cardinals 524 total yards. The bad news? All this came against an underwhelming Boilermakers team that was up on Louisville midway through the 4th quarter. Will Jackson get any help this season? We may find out in the ACC’s opening matchup next week, as Louisville heads to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels.

NCAA Football: Louisville vs Purdue
Lamar Jackson.
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

5. Virginia Tech Hokies (1-0, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 5)

Last week: vs. #22 West Virginia Mountaineers (0-1) - W 31-24

Next week: vs. Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens (1-0)

The Hokies start the season with a ranked victory under their belt, knocking off #22 WVU despite a huge performance by Mountaineers QB Will Grier. It seems like Va Tech has found a worthy successor to Jerod Evans at quarterback in Josh Jackson, as Jackson went for 200+ in the air and another 100+ on the ground in leading the Hokies to the win. The defense (especially the secondary) may need some work after giving up near 600 yards of total offense to WVU, however. The Hokies get a bit of a break after the big win, as FCS Delaware comes to Blacksburg for the home opener.

6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (0-1, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 9)

Last week: vs. #25 Tennessee Volunteers (0-0) - L 41-42 2OT

Next week: vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks (1-0)

Wow. Georgia Tech may have lost, but they were extremely impressive in their opener. They controlled the majority of the game against a top 25 opponent in Tennessee, while TaQuon Marshall is absolutely, positively the truth. In his first career start, the sophomore QB put the Yellow Jackets on his back with a quarterback school record 44 carries for 249 yards (with 5 TD’s) and Tennessee didn’t have an answer for him all night. Georgia Tech’s offensive line had their way with the Volunteers, getting a forward push on most every play and giving their weapons plenty of space to operate to the tune of a whopping 535 yards rushing. 2 missed Tech FG’s (including having one blocked while regulation expired) coupled with 2 untimely fumbles gave the Vols life and ultimately cost Georgia Tech the game, but we may have underestimated the Yellow Jackets this season.

7. N.C. State Wolfpack (0-1, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 7)

Last Week: at South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0) - L 28-35

Next Week: Marshall Thundering Herd (1-0)

Tough loss for the Wolfpack on the road at South Carolina, as they had first and goal with under a minute remaining in the game but couldn’t punch it in to tie it up. NC State also doubled up the Gamecocks in total yardage during the loss, but South Carolina returned a kick for a touchdown to help negate that advantage. Wolfpack QB Ryan Finley was a standout, throwing for 415 yards on the day, and their vaunted D-Line held South Carolina to 35 yards rushing, adding 2 sacks. Despite the loss, it felt like an encouraging performance overall, and the Wolfpack’s schedule sets up nicely for the rest of the season.

8. Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 6)

Last week: vs. Youngstown State Penguins (0-1) - W 28-21 OT

Next week: at #4 Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0)

Uh oh. The Panthers were taken to overtime in their opener by FCS Youngstown State and look like they have a lot to figure out, especially with their passing game. New QB Max Browne played the role of “Captain Checkdown” all afternoon, throwing for a measly 140 yards on 17 completions, numbers that would already be considered horrid until you realize this was against an FCS team. Pitt’s pass defense also gave up 300+ yards against Penguins QB Hunter Wells; with that type of coverage, Penn State QB Trace McSorley will have a field day next week.

NCAA Football: Youngstown State at Pittsburgh
Pitt RB Qadree Ollison.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 10)

Last week: vs. Presbyterian Blue Hose (0-1) - W 51-7

Next week: at Boston College Eagles (1-0)

The Demon Deacons easily dispatched of FCS foe Presbyterian; Wake Forest scored on each of its first six possessions and led 44-0 before Presbyterian finally crossed midfield midway through the third quarter. That could be signs of improvement for what was previously the ACC’s second worst offense back in 2016. We may find out when Wake Forest takes on Boston College and their great defense in the second of two ACC matchups next week.

10. North Carolina Tar Heels (0-1, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 8)

Last week: vs. Cal Golden Bears (1-0) - L 30-35

Next week: vs. #17 Louisville Cardinals (1-0)

It looks like the rebuild in Chapel Hill is further behind than originally thought. In the battle of high-flying offenses, the Tar Heels were defeated by the California Golden Bears, who were picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North. UNC also still hasn’t settled on a replacement for Mitchell Trubisky, as starting QB Brandon Harris was ineffective and pulled for backup Chazz Surratt. Things only get tougher from here, as the Tar Heels host #17 Louisville and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson next weekend.

11. Syracuse Orange (1-0, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 11)

Last week: vs. Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (0-1) - W 50-7

Next week: vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (0-1)

Syracuse’s potent offense predictably ruled the day against FCS Central Connecticut State, racking up nearly 600 yards versus an over-matched Blue Devils defense. Eric Dungey has morphed into one of the more reliable QB’s in the ACC and accounted for 5 TD’s, while South Florida product Steve Ishmael grabbed 12 balls for 134 yards on the day. We still want to see how the Orange’s defense will hold up against an FBS opponent before moving them any higher, though; they get Middle Tennessee from Conference USA next week.

12. Duke Blue Devils (1-0, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 12)

Last week: vs. NC Central Eagles (0-1) - W 60-7

Next week: vs. Northwestern Wildcats (1-0)

In yet another blowout of an FCS squad by an ACC program, Duke crushed the North Carolina Central Eagles by a score of 60-7. RB Brittain Brown produced 120 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries, while QB Daniel Jones hit 76% of his passes on his way to 213 yards and 2 scores. Again, we won’t read too much into one game against lower-level competition, and the Blue Devils still have a lot to prove, starting next week vs. Northwestern.

NCAA Football: North Carolina Central at Duke
Daniel Jones
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

13. Boston College Eagles (1-0, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 13)

Last week: at Northern Illinois Huskies (0-1) - W 23-20

Next week: vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0)

The Eagles squeaked by the Huskies for a solid FBS win when Northern Illinois’ potential game-tying FG clanked off the crossbar in the closing seconds. Boston College went with Anthony Brown at QB, and the signal-caller showed poise in his first career start by leading the Eagles down the field for the game-winning field goal late in the 4th quarter, even converting a 4th down pass on the drive. Boston College will try to get a jump start on the rest of the ACC with a win over Wake Forest when the Demon Deacons come to town next week.

14. Virginia Cavaliers (1-0, 0-0 ACC) (Last Week: 14)

Last week: vs. William & Mary Tribe (0-1) - W 28-10

Next week: vs. Indiana Hooisers (0-1)

Virginia opened their season with a win over FCS William & Mary, but it wasn’t pretty. The Cavaliers gave up 168 yards on the ground to the Tribe, and only led 21-10 in the 4th quarter before scoring a garbage time touchdown with under a minute to go. On the bright side, returning starting QB Kurt Benkert tossed 3 TD’s to go with 262 yards, giving Virginia some hope that the passing attack might not be abysmal this season. Still, the Cavs showed nothing to indicate that they aren’t the worst team in the ACC. They get a Power 5 matchup at home against Indiana next week, an opportunity to prove they’ve made some progress in the past year.