I want to start off this week’s edition of the Power Rankings by wishing all who were affected by Hurricane Matthew the best. I grew up in North Florida and have spent a lot of time in St. Augustine over the years, so this storm hit close to home for me. Hopefully all who were affected will be able to recover soon.
With that said, the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew had a pretty big effect on the ACC. All four North Carolina teams hosted games last weekend while Matthew dumped rain across the southeast. The conditions dampened (pun absolutely intended) several high powered offenses but produced games that were remarkably fun to watch for all their sloppiness. Ultimately between Hurricane Matthew’s effect and the Miami Hurricanes’ loss, the middle of the conference got shuffled up a bit. Without further ado; Week 7 of the Power Rankings.
Tier 1: National Contenders
1 - Clemson Tigers (6-0, 3-0) LW: 1
Coming off their showdown against Louisville, the Tigers traveled up to Boston College on a short week and took care of business. Clemson dominated the game from start to finish and the offense looked sharp, led by QB Deshaun Watson’s 4 TD passes.
Last week: defeated Boston College 56-10
This week: Saturday, 12:00 PM vs NC State
2 - Louisville Cardinals (4-1, 2-1) LW: 2
Louisville had the weekend off to recover from their first loss of the season against Clemson. Heading into the back half of their schedule, there are very few stumbling blocks for the Cardinals who have already played their most difficult conference games. A late season date with Houston is far and away the most challenging game left on the schedule.
Last week: BYE
This week: Friday, 7:00 PM vs Duke
Tier 2: Coastal Contenders (plus FSU)
3 - Virginia Tech Hokies (4-1, 2-0) LW: 6
Virginia Tech had been behind Miami and UNC in the Coastal standings but the Hokies made their move to the top this weekend. They were the only team in a game affected by Hurricane Matthew that was able to get a decent offense going. QB Jerod Evans was not flashy, but he accounted for three touchdowns and was able to minimize turnovers in adverse conditions.
Last week: defeated North Carolina 34-3
This week: Saturday, 3:45 PM at Syracuse
4 - Florida State Seminoles (4-2, 1-2) LW: 5
As is tradition, the annual Florida State-Miami rivalry game came down to the kicking game. This time, it was Miami that fell victim, as the Seminoles blocked a late extra point attempt. For the first time all season, the Seminole defense stepped up and held down an explosive offense. Dalvin Cook continued his excellent season, recording 150 yards on the ground and 59 yards through the air. Cook leads all of FBS in yards from scrimmage and is doing it at 7.3 yards per touch.
Last week: defeated Miami 20-19
This week: Saturday, 3:30 PM vs Wake Forest
5 - Miami Hurricanes (4-1, 1-1) LW: 3
Miami fell from the ranks of the undefeated against their arch rival in heartbreaking fashion. Potentially worse is the loss of QB Brad Kaaya who injured his shoulder (and lost a molar) against Florida State. The star QB is going to miss practice time this week but the hope is that he will be ready to go for the weekend. If he is not able to play, backup Malik Rosier will get the start.
Last week: loss vs Florida State 19-20
This week: Saturday, 3:30 PM vs North Carolina
6 - North Carolina Tar Heels (4-2, 2-1) LW: 4
Of the ACC teams that were forced to play in a monsoon Saturday, no team was more negatively affected than the Tar Heels. UNC’s elite offense was held without a touchdown and under 150 total yards, while turning the ball over 4 times. North Carolina is still a good team and has a chance to prove it again this weekend.
Last week: loss vs Virginia Tech 3-34
This week: Saturday, 3:30 at Miami
7 - Pittsburgh Panthers (4-2, 1-1) LW: 7
The Panthers picked up their first Coastal win by banking in a last second field goal against Georgia Tech. Between that and a tipped pass that turned into a 74-yard touchdown, it took some luck, but Pitt got out with a win in a game that was probably pretty entertaining to the unbiased fan.
Last week: defeated Georgia Tech 37-34
This week: Saturday, 12:30 PM at Virginia
Tier 3: Bowl Contenders
8 - North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-1, 1-0) LW: 8
NC State managed to scrape out a win against Notre Dame in what will surely be one of the strangest games all season. Bombarded by the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew, the field may have been more water than grass and the conditions wrecked all kinds of havoc on the game. It was by no means pretty but the Wolfpack managed to move the ball well on the ground and made the big special teams play to clinch the win.
Last week: defeated Notre Dame 10-3
This week: Saturday, 12:00 PM at Clemson
9 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-3, 1-3) LW: 9
Any Wake Forest fans reading this might be a little upset to find a 3 loss Georgia Tech team one spot ahead of their Deacons, but at the end of the day, Georgia Tech is probably the better team. The Yellow Jackets need to start pulling out wins in their close games to keep this ranking but they played Pitt to the wire and nearly came away with a tough road conference win.
Last week: loss at Pittsburgh 34-37
This week: Saturday, 12:30 PM vs Georgia Southern
10 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-1, 2-1) LW: 10
In yet another Hurricane game, the Deacons used two late touchdowns to pull away from Syracuse. Through six games, Wake Forest finds itself just one win away from playing in a bowl game, which was almost unthinkable at the beginning of the season. Wake is a solid team that has started to develop a decent run game but it will be interesting to see if they can play with the top of the conference starting this weekend in Tallahassee.
Last week: defeated Syracuse 28-9
This week: Saturday, 3:30 PM at Florida State
Tier 4: Pretenders
11 - Virginia Cavaliers (2-3, 1-0) LW: 11
Over the course of their first five games under new head coach Bronco Mendenhall, the Cavaliers have shown gradual improvment. Virginia went from getting blown out by an FCS opponent in week 1 to beating a conference foe on the road in week 5. That conference foe was Duke but it is still a big step forward. If Mendenhall and his team are able to continue to improve throughout the season, they may end up pulling an upset or two down the stretch.
Last week: BYE
This week: Saturday, 12:30 PM vs Pittsburgh
12 - Duke Blue Devils (3-3, 0-2) LW: 12
Duke held off Army in the fourth and final ACC game affected by Hurricane Matthew. This was an ugly game for both teams as the rain and wind made passing extremely difficult. The two teams combined for 93 yards passing and had as many punts as first downs (17).
Last week: defeated Army 13-6
This week: Friday, 7:00 PM at Louisville
13 - Boston College Eagles (3-3, 0-3) LW: 13
Boston College extended its 11-game ACC losing streak, getting blown out by conference front-runner Clemson. It was one of those days where nothing went right for the Eagles, best exemplified by their best drive of the first half. BC drove 79 yards down to the Clemson 1 yard line, where twice on 4th and goal from the one yard line, they botched the snap (the first was negated by a Clemson penalty).
Last week: loss vs Clemson 10-56
This week: BYE (Oct 22 vs Syracuse)
14 - Syracuse Orange (2-4, 0-2) LW: 14
Syracuse’s high-flying offense stalled on Saturday as they battled the Wake Forest defense and the effects of Hurricane Matthew. The game was closer than the final score indicated, as Wake scored two touchdowns (including a long fumble return) in the game’s final four minutes. In this week’s Amba Etta-Tawo watch: 4 catches for only 36 yards, his worst totals on the season. Etta-Tawo still leads the nation in receiving, with 876 yards on the season.
Last week: loss at Wake Forest 9-28
This week: Saturday, 3:45 PM vs Virginia Tech