Last night, Alabama beat Georgia in a thriller for the National Championship. Sadly, this is the last college football we’ll get for the next 8 months, but, lucky for you, you get one last SOTU ACC Power Ranking before the long off-season. The ACC went a disappointing 4-6 in Bowl Season, including 0-3 against ranked teams, providing further confirmation that 2017 was a down year in the conference.
ACC Power Rankings
1. Clemson Tigers (12-2, 7-1 ACC) (Last Week: 1)
Bowl Game: vs. #4 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1) - L 6-24
Clemson exceeded expectations this season after losing a boatload of talent to the NFL, winning the ACC and entering the playoffs as the #1 team in the nation. Alabama exposed some of their weaknesses to be sure, but it’s clear now more than ever Clemson is the type of program that can reload and not waste seasons rebuilding. Kelly Bryant returns as the starting QB, but will now have to fend off back-to-back #1 QB recruits in the nation in Hunter Johnson and Trevor Lawrence.
2. Miami Hurricanes (10-3, 7-1 ACC) (Last Week: 2)
Bowl Game: vs. #6 Wisconsin Badgers (13-1) - L 24-34
It was a disappointing finish to the season with 3 straight losses for the Canes, but the depth just wasn’t there in Mark Richt’s second season. Miami had their first 10 win season in nearly 15 years, introduced the Turnover Chain to the nation, and was the talk of college football for parts of the season. The Canes took a path to relevancy in 2017, but 2018 will be about staying there. Miami will likely begin the year as a top 10 team and the pieces are in place to make a playoff run, but will need to shore up the left side of the offensive line and find consistency at QB to be true contenders.
3. N.C. State Wolfpack (9-4, 6-2 ACC) (Last Week: 4)
Bowl Game: vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (7-6) - W 52-31
The Wolfpack won their bowl game with likely top 5 NFL Draft pick Bradley Chubb sitting out, showing off an incredible offense in the process. N.C. State got six touchdowns on the ground and another efficient, turnover free performance from trigger man Ryan Finley. In even better news for the Wolfpack’s 2018 prospects, Finley was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, so Dave Doeren and Co. are in position to make some noise yet again in the ACC next year.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies (9-4, 5-3 ACC) (Last Week: 3)
Bowl Game: vs. #19 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-3) - L 21-30
The combo of QB Mason Rudolph and WR James Washington ate up Bud Foster’s defense even with a month to prep. Washington put up 126 yards receiving with a 65 yard TD catch, while Rudolph went for 351 passing yards, 2 TD’s, and no interceptions in leading the Cowboys to the Camping Bowl title. The Hokies lose leading receiver Cam Phillips, but bring back most of their running game and defense in 2018, while QB Josh Jackson will look to build off a solid freshman season.
5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-5, 4-4 ACC) (Last Week: 6)
Bowl Game: vs. Texas A&M Aggies (7-6) - W 55-52
This back-and-forth affair was probably the best game of the ACC’s Bowl Season. Five lead changes and over 600 yards of offense from both programs, with the winning blow coming on a 3rd-and-goal, one yard plunge from Wake’s Matt Coburn. John Wolford was stellar again, with 400 passing yards, 68 rushing on the ground, and 4 TD’s, and has put himself in position to be a late-round pick in the NFL Draft. This season was a nice step for Dave Clawson’s program, but do they have enough depth to survive key off-season losses in 2018?
6. Boston College Eagles (7-6, 4-4 ACC) (Last Week: 5)
Bowl Game: vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (8-5) - L 20-27
Boston College outgained Iowa by nearly 200 yards in the Battle of the Birds, but the Hawkeyes were able to pull out a win thanks to a 3-0 advantage in turnovers over the Eagles. My boy AJ Dillon went for 157 yards in another impressive performance by the true freshman, and he’ll be a darkhorse Heisman candidate as the centerpiece of BC’s offense for a full season in 2018.
7. Louisville Cardinals (8-5, 4-4 ACC) (Last Week: 7)
Bowl Game: vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-4) - L 27-31
Lamar Jackson broke off some huge runs, but laid an egg as a passer in his final collegiate game. An under 50% completion rate and four interceptions against one of the best defenses he faced all year only fueled the fire of Jackson’s detractors saying he’s not first round pick material. As for the Cardinals and Bobby Petrino, where do you go from here when you just went 8-5 with arguably the best player in college football?
8. Florida State Seminoles (7-6, 3-5 ACC) (Last Week: 8)
Bowl Game: vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles (8-5) - W 42-13
James Blackman had the best game of his young career without Jimbo Fisher, throwing for 233 yards and 4 TD’s in the Seminoles’ rout of Southern Miss. Florida State will be one of the most interesting teams in the conference next season, especially after they had a mass exodus of juniors declare for the NFL Draft. How will the depleted team fare under the direction of new head coach Willie Taggart? Who’s the QB, Blackman or injured former starter Deondre Francois?
9. Duke Blue Devils (7-6, 3-5 ACC) (Last Week: 10)
Bowl Game: vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (8-5) - W 36-14
A nice win for a young Duke team to finish the season on a three game winning streak. Daniel Jones continued his bounce-back after a mid-season swoon, going for 252 yards passing, 86 yards rushing, and 3 total touchdowns against the Huskies. With the majority of their team returning, the Blue Devils could be a contender in the Coastal in 2018.
10. Virginia Cavaliers (6-7, 3-5 ACC) (Last Week: 9)
Bowl Game: vs. Navy Midshipmen (7-5) - L 7-49
UVA was obliterated by Navy in their bowl game, but it was actually unfair: the teams were playing in the Military Bowl, a clear advantage for the Midshipmen. Navy had zero yards passing and only one passing attempt in the game. Yes, you read that right. A completely one-dimensional offense that had been struggling against mid-majors absolutely took Bronco Mendenhall and the Cavaliers to the woodshed, putting up 452 rushing yards and holding the Virginia offense to under 200 total yards.
11. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-6, 4-4 ACC) (Last Week: 11)
Bowl Game: None
Georgia Tech. In a recruiting hot-bed, plays in a Power 5 conference, yet is consistently outperformed by Navy, a military academy, despite running the exact same gimmick offense. Do better, Yellow Jackets.
12. Pittsburgh Panthers (5-7, 3-5 ACC) (Last Week: 12)
Bowl Game: None
What can you say about Pittsburgh that hasn’t already been said about Robert Horry? The Panthers show up in big games, but seem disinterested the majority of the season. Something to work on for the new 7 year man Pat Narduzzi.
13. Syracuse Orange (4-8, 2-6 ACC) (Last Week: 13)
Bowl Game: None
If Dino Babers can’t get in done at Syracuse, then nobody can.
14. North Carolina Tar Heels (3-9, 1-7 ACC) (Last Week: 14)
Bowl Game: None
I’m seriously so glad I’m done trying to come up with stuff about North Carolina this season. Man, they suck. Which makes me even more angry when I think about how Miami almost lost to them.