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ACC Power Rankings: Week 2

The ACC had a pretty good week one, winning 10 games. How did that shake up the power rankings for the conference after each team’s first game?

Clemson v Duke Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

The Atlantic Coast Conference began the 2023 season with 10 of the 14 teams in the conference picking up wins. Two of those four losses came against conference opponents though.

Of the 12 games played by ACC teams, two were between conference teams while just three others were against Power Five teams. Some teams proved why they were given credit before the season while others showed why they didn’t.

With one week down, was there much movement in the ACC Power Rankings? Or did all teams do what was expected?

1. Florida State Seminoles (1-0)

Week One Result: Win over LSU, 45-24

The Seminoles were the top team before the opening action of the season and they showed why. Florida State trailed 17-14 at halftime but blew fifth-ranked LSU out after halftime with a 31-7 advantage in the second half. Jordan Travis was maybe the best player in the conference in week one, passing for 342 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 38 yards and another score.

It will probably be week four before the top spot in these rankings has a chance to change when the Seminoles go on the road to face Clemson.

2. Duke Blue Devils (1-0)

Week One Result: Win over Clemson, 28-7

Probably the most surprising game of week one, Duke beat Clemson for the first time since 2004. The Blue Devils picked up their first win over a ranked opponent since 2016 and their first win over a top-10 team since 1989.

Quarterback Riley Leonard had one of the best highlights of the week as well, breaking tackles in the backfield and running 44 yards for a touchdown.

It took a lot of mistakes from the Tigers, but Duke capitalized on those mistakes and ended up winning by three touchdowns. The only reason the Blue Devils aren’t on the top of this list is because Florida State didn’t struggle against a team ranked even higher.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0)

Week One Result: Win over South Carolina, 31-17

Even though they picked up a two-touchdown win over an SEC opponent, North Carolina had to battle down until the end. Star quarterback Drake Maye passed for 269 yards and two scores but threw two interceptions en route to a 31-17 win over South Carolina.

But it was unexpectedly the defense that was the difference in the game. They allowed Spencer Rattler to pass for 353 yards but sacked the opposing quarterback nine times.

4. Louisville Cardinals (1-0)

Week One Result: Win over Georgia Tech, 39-34

Louisville fell behind early, trailing 28-13 at halftime. But they rattled off 26 unanswered points in the second half to jump ahead of Georgia Tech. The Cardinals had an extremely balanced offense with Jack Plummer passing for 247 yards while they also ran for 227 yards on the ground.

And even though the offense racked up 474 yards, the defense may have had the most important play of the game. With just under four minutes remaining and a one-point lead, Kameron Wilson recovered a fumble with their backs close to the red zone. On the very next play, Jawhar Jordan busted a run for a 74-yard touchdown to take an eight-point lead they would hold on to.

5. NC State Wolfpack (1-0)

Week One Result: Win over UConn, 24-14

Brennan Armstrong was once against a good performer for an ACC team, but this time for NC State. In his first game for the Wolfpack, he passed for 155 yards and led the team in rushing with 96 yards and two touchdowns.

It probably isn’t a great sign for NC State that they just barely beat out UConn, who went 6-7 last year. The Wolfpack beat the Huskies by 31 last season, so there is a drop-off from a season ago.

6. Miami Hurricanes (1-0)

Week One Result: Win over Miami(OH), 38-3

Like many of the teams in the conference, Miami handled their business. Could they be a few spots higher on this list after their performance against the other Miami? Sure. But they beat a lesser opponent and will face their first real test in week two. That is where they can make their way to the top three or four of the power rankings.

7. Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0)

Week One Result: Win over Wofford, 45-7

Pittsburgh is another team that handled business against a lesser opponent. They never trailed against Wofford and led 28-0 at halftime. They were up 45-0 before the Terriers finally scored with a little over a minute remaining in the game. Their first real test will come in their fourth game of the season when they face North Carolina.

8. Syracuse Orange (1-0)

Week One Result: Win over Colgate, 65-0

Syracuse scored the most points of any ACC team over the weekend, beating FCS opponent Colgate by 65 points. It doesn’t mean anything, but with how the ACC has played against much lesser opponents over the last few years, you definitely can’t take these wins for granted.

The Orange picked up 677 yards and had their highest-scoring game for the program since 1998.

9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0)

Week One Result: Win over Elon, 37-17

Even though the final score doesn’t look very impressive, this one was never really in doubt. Wake Forest jumped out to a 27-0 lead before Elon scored two touchdowns late in the third quarter. The Demon Deacons would score 10 straight points before Elon added a field goal to end the game.

But a 20-point win over an FCS opponent is not something you can be happy about. It is easy to take your foot off the gas when up by four scores, but this isn’t a great showing.

10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (0-1)

Week One Result: Loss to Louisville, 39-34

Ranking losses, especially against wins for other teams is weird. But The Yellow Jackets did lose to a conference opponent by only five points. I feel unmoved after watching Georgia Tech fall apart in the second half against Louisville and still see them as one of the bottom teams in the conference.

Haynes King, in his first game since transferring from Texas A&M, passed for 313 yards and three touchdowns. But it was not a performance that left me thinking they were in the top three-quarters of the conference.

11. Clemson Tigers

Week One Result: Loss to Duke, 28-7

Throughout Dabo Swinney’s tenure at Clemson, they have not played really bad games often. They opened their season with a terrible performance that included multiple fumbles inside the Duke 10-yard line.

Even though the ground attack was successful for the Tigers with 213 yards, the passing game left a lot to be desired. Cade Klubnik passed for just 209 yards on 43 attempts.

Clemson finished the game with two fumbles, an interception, two missed field goals, and two turnovers on downs. They didn’t have a drive finish with a punt or score for the entire second half.

12. Virginia Tech Hokies (0-1)

Week One Result: Win over Old Dominion, 36-17

Yes, Virginia Tech won their game. But beating Old Dominion by 19 is not something that should be seen as impressive. Even if they did lose to the Monarchs to open their season last year. Is it an improvement? Of course? But going from embarrassing to a mediocre performance isn’t inspiring confidence.

13. Virginia Cavaliers (0-1)

Week One Result: Loss to Tennessee, 49-13

Losing by 36 points isn’t something to be proud of. But I don’t think many saw this going any other way. Virginia was a huge underdog and lost to a team that was better than them.

Tony Elliot’s second season with the Cavaliers isn’t off to a great start, but this is why they were one of the bottom teams heading into the season.

14. Boston College Eagles (0-1)

Week One Result: Loss to Northern Illinois, 27-24

Boston College losing to Northern Illinois to open their season is even worse than what I would have imagined for the program even though they were the second to last team in the power rankings last week.

Losing Phil Jerkovec and Zay Flowers from last year hurt the offense. But losing to a team that went 2-6 in the MAC last year is something that will be hard to bounce back from for Jeff Hafley in his fourth season with the program.