It’s been an extra long summer for Canes fans, with anticipation for the football season the highest it’s been in over a decade. Now that the season opener is less than a week away, let’s take a look at the ACC landscape with our first edition of the ACC Power Rankings. Each week, you can see who is trending up or down in the conference pecking order and give your own takes on where you think the teams should be ranked. Without further ado, let’s get started from the top:
ACC Power Rankings - Week 1
1. Clemson Tigers (AP Rank: 2), Week 1 Matchup: vs Furman, 9/1 12:20pm ET
The winners of the last 3 ACC Championships continue to boast one of the most talented overall rosters in all of college football, led by the self-proclaimed “Power Rangers,” Clemson’s dominant defensive line that could see 3 members taken in the first round of next years NFL Draft.
2. Miami Hurricanes (AP Rank: 8), Week 1 Matchup: vs #25 LSU @ AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX, 9/2 7:30pm ET
The Canes 2017 success has catapulted the program to the top echelon of the conference leading into 2018. Consistent QB play could help further close the gap between The U and Clemson.
3(Tie). Virginia Tech Hokies (AP Rank: 20), Week 1 Matchup: @ #19 Florida State, 9/3 8:00pm ET
The Hokies will take part in one of the most intriguing matchups of the entire college football weekend, a rare week 1 conference-game against Florida State. A win would place early pressure on the Coastal division, but do they have enough firepower offensively to make up for their lack of experience on defensive side of the ball?
3(Tie). Florida State Seminoles (AP Rank: 19), Week 1 Matchup: vs #20 Virginia Tech, 9/3 8:00pm ET
After an extremely disappointing 2017 campaign (for Noles fans at least), there’s a new coach in Tallahassee. With plenty of talent at his disposal, will Willie Taggart be able to put it all together the way Jimbo Fisher was unable to last year, or will the 2018 season be knocked off track right out of the gate with a tough Labor Day primetime game against conference foe Virginia Tech?
5. NC State Wolfpack, Week 1 Matchup: vs James Madison, 9/1 12:00pm ET
The Wolfpack returns one of the highest-rated passers in the conference in senior QB Ryan Finley, however, FCS powerhouse James Madison could be a sneaky-tough opponent in week 1.
6. Boston College Eagles, Week 1 Matchup: vs UMass, 9/1 1:00pm ET
Boston College is a trendy pick to take down one of the top teams in the conference, with sophomore Heisman-candidate AJ Dillon leading the offense and a stout run defense. Clemson, Miami, and Virginia Tech should all have BC marked on their schedules this season.
7. Louisville Cardinals, Week 1 Matchup: vs #1 Alabama, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL, 9/1 8:00pm ET
It could be a tough year for Louisville, as they get used to life without the best player in the program’s history, Heisman-winner Lamar Jackson. The Cardinals aren’t easing into the process, as they travel to Orlando to take on the defending national champs in Week 1.
8. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Week 1 Matchup: vs Alcorn State, 9/1 12:30pm ET
The always-dangerous keepers of the triple-option return the main cog of their offense, senior QB Taquon Marshall, who rushed for over 1100 yards in 2017. The Yellow Jackets are due for some growing pains, as they implement their new 3-4 defense this season.
9. Pittsburgh Panthers, Week 1 Matchup: vs Albany, 9/1 3:30pm ET
The team that started the Canes late season spiral is more experienced in 2018, and hope that translates to more than their 5 wins from a year ago. The Panthers also boast one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country, with #10 Penn State, #12 Notre Dame and #21 UCF all on the slate this season.
10. Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Week 1 Matchup: @ Tulane, 8/30 8:00pm ET
The Demon Deacons will need to pull an upset in at least one of their early-season matchups against BC or Notre Dame if they want to improve on their 2017 campaign, which was a step in the right direction, capped off by a bowl victory over Texas A&M.
11. Duke Blue Devils, Week 1 Matchup: vs Army, 8/31 7:00pm ET
The Blue Devils should be on early upset alert as they host Army in Week 1. A loss in week 1 could leave Duke struggling for bowl eligibility late in the season.
12. North Carolina Tar Heels, Week 1 Matchup: @ Cal, 9/1 4:00pm ET
A mess of an offseason isn’t helping the Tar Heels recover from their 3-9 season in 2017. The 2015 Coastal Division Champs have been in a steady decline since that magical season.
13. Syracuse Orange, Week 1 Matchup: @ Western Michigan, 8/31 6:00pm ET
The Orange beat two teams that the Canes couldn’t last season, Clemson and Pitt. Head Coach Dino Babers gave one of the iconic postgame speeches after taking down the ACC Champs, and Syracuse will need lots more magic like that to achieve bowl-eligibility in 2018.
14. Virginia Cavaliers, Week 1 Matchup: vs Richmond, 9/1 6:00pm ET
The Canes made the Cavaliers look like one of the top offenses in the nation for a half in 2017, and while Virginia returns a potential star in Olamide Zaccheaus, much of the roster is not ready to compete in the ACC.
What do you think of our initial rankings? Let us know in the comments below.