Another weekend of college football in the books and the ACC standings were shaken up yet again. One preseason favorite continued to stumble, losing at home on a last second field goal, while another reclaimed the top of the standings in a top-5 match-up that lived up to the billing. As the calendar turns into October, the contenders are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the conference. There’s still a lot of football left to be played though but, for now, here is this week’s edition of the ACC Power Rankings.
Tier 1: National Contenders
1 - Clemson Tigers (5-0, 2-0) LW: 2
Clemson regained their place atop the ACC by beating Louisville in a thrilling instant-classic Saturday night. The Tiger offense was sloppy at times but is starting to look like the lethal unit it was last year while the defense did as good a job as any one has on Louisville’s offense. If the offense continues to work its way into form, there will be few teams in the country that can beat Clemson.
Last week: defeated Louisville 42-36
This week: Friday, 7:30 PM at Boston College
2 - Louisville Cardinals (4-1, 2-1) LW: 1
Despite the loss, Louisville shouldn’t drop out of the national conversation just yet. The Cardinals went toe to toe with last year’s national runner up and Lamar Jackson showed that he just may be the best player in the country. The sophomore QB was “limited” to only three touchdowns while throwing for 295 yards and rushing for 162 more on a whopping 31 carries.
Last week: loss at Clemson 36-42
This week: BYE (vs Duke Oct 14)
Tier 2: Conference Contenders
3 - Miami Hurricanes (4-0, 1-0) LW: 4
The Hurricanes rode two second quarter defensive scores to win their conference opener in Atlanta. Now, Miami heads into a huge rivalry week against Florida State. Even though Florida State hasn’t looked good against ACC opponents, a convincing win this weekend would be a statement to the rest of the conference that Miami is for real.
Last week: defeated Georgia Tech 35-21
This week: Saturday, 8:00 PM vs Florida State
4 - North Carolina Tar Heels (4-1, 2-0) LW: 6
For the second week in a row, the Tar Heels were able to drive down the field for a last second score to steal a conference win. UNC’s defense is not good but their offense can score more than enough to keep them in games and give them a chance to win. Were it not for Lamar Jackson, QB Mitch Trubisky might be the front runner for ACC Offensive Player of the Year. He has been superb, throwing for 1711 yards with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 76% of his passes.
Last week: defeated Florida State 37-35
This week: Saturday, 3:30 PM vs Virginia Tech
5 - Florida State Seminoles (3-2, 0-2) LW: 3
It has been a rough start to the season for the Seminoles. Florida State’s defense was supposed to be a strength but has been an issue from the very first game. Freshman QB Deondre Francois has been very good, but it hasn’t been enough to win games. The ‘Noles playoff dreams are dead at this point but they can start to salvage their season with a win against Miami this weekend.
Last week: loss vs North Carolina 35-37
This week: Saturday, 8:00 PM at Miami
6 - Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1, 1-0) LW: 5
Virginia Tech comes off their bye week rested and ready for a huge Coastal division matchup in Chapel Hill. The Hokies offense has looked very good and is primed to take advantage of the Tar Heel defense. The game may hinge on Bud Foster’s ability to stop Trubisky and UNC’s offense.
Last week: BYE
This week: Saturday, 3:30 PM at North Carolina
7 - Pittsburgh Panthers (3-2, 0-1) LW: 7
It took a pair of late touchdowns, but Pitt was eventually able to put away a feisty Marshall team. The Panthers jumped out to a 27-0 lead before letting the Herd get as close as 30-27. The inability to hold a lead has been an issue all season for Pitt, who nearly let Penn State back into the game and did blow leads against Oklahoma State and North Carolina.
Last week: defeated Marshall 43-27
This week: Saturday, 12:30 PM vs Georgia Tech
Tier 3: Bowl Contenders
8 - North Carolina State Wolfpack (3-1, 1-0) LW: 10
The Wolfpack took it to Wake Forest Saturday, handing the Demon Deacons their first loss behind a balanced offensive attack. QB Ryan Finley threw for 300 yards and RB Matthew Dayes added 125 on the ground to lead NC State. The only blemish on the day was the 13 penalties racked up by the ‘Pack. That didn’t cost them against Wake, but could hurt against a more explosive offense like Notre Dame.
Last week: defeated Wake Forest 33-16
This week: Saturday, 12:00 PM vs Notre Dame
9 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-2, 1-2) LW: 9
The Yellow Jackets fumbled away any chance they had at beating Miami in another disappointing loss. Georgia Tech head to Pittsburgh this week to play in their first true road game of the season. Pitt is a flawed team but it may be difficult for the Yellow Jackets to take advantage of their weaknesses. The Panthers have trouble defending the passing game but are strong against the run. Ricky Jeune and the rest of Tech’s receivers will need to step up this weekend.
Edited to reflect that Ricky Jeune does not play defense.
Last week: loss vs Miami 21-35
This week: Saturday, 12:30 PM at Pittsburgh
10 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-1, 1-1) LW: 8
Wake Forest’s Cinderella Playoff bid likely ended Saturday in Raleigh, but the Deacons still have a fair shot at making a bowl bid. Given pre-season expectations, that would have to be considered a success for Coach Dave Clawson. Wake was able to move the ball through the air against the Wolfpack, but struggled to establish the run. Luckily, the cure for any offensive struggle comes to town this weekend in the Syracuse defense.
Last week: loss at North Carolina State 16-33
This week: Saturday, 7:00 PM vs Syracuse
Tier 4: Pretenders
11 - Virginia Cavaliers (2-3, 1-0) LW: 14
The Cavaliers forced 6 turnovers en route to their first road win since 2012, defeating Duke 34-20. Virginia has put the bad memories of the season-opening loss to FCS Richmond behind them and look like they are improving each week under new Coach Bronco Mendenhall. A bowl may still be a season away but the needle is starting to point in the right direction in Charlottesville.
Last week: defeated Duke 34-20
This week: BYE (at Florida State Oct 15)
12 - Duke Blue Devils (2-3, 0-2) LW: 11
A week after picking up a huge road win against Notre Dame, Duke struggled at home in a game they needed to win to stay in bowl contention. QB Daniel Jones looked every bit like the freshman he is, throwing 5 interceptions on the day. Jones has flashed a lot of potential this season but days like Saturday are to be expected from any young QB.
Last week: loss vs Virginia 20-34
This week: Saturday, 3:30 PM vs Army
13 - Boston College Eagles (3-2, 0-2) LW: 12
Boston College routed another over-matched opponent last weekend. The defense was lights out yet again, holding Buffalo to 67 total yards. Outside of the game against Virginia Tech, BC’s defense has been nearly as good as the unit that was the nation’s best a year ago. The Eagles get another crack at a high-powered offense Friday night against Clemson.
Last week: defeated Buffalo 35-3
This week: Friday, 7:30 PM vs Clemson
14 - Syracuse Orange (2-3, 0-1) LW: 13
Syracuse sinks to the bottom of these Power Rankings following a high scoring loss against Notre Dame. The Orange were able to hang with the Irish for a half before falling too far behind in the second half. WR Amba Etta-Tawo had another outstanding week, catching 7 balls for 134 yards and 1 touchdown, bringing his FBS-leading total to 840 yards through only 5 games.
Last week: loss vs Notre Dame 33-50
This week: Saturday, 7:00 PM at Wake Forest
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!