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ACC Power Rankings - Week 3: Shake Up at the Top

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We’re only two weeks into the season, but its time to crown a new ACC front-runner.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After a great first week of college football, many bemoaned the significantly-less-great week two slate but, as always, college football didn’t let us down. While this weekend may not have brought as many big time upsets, and one of the upsets it did bring shouldn’t have counted, there were many unexpected close calls. It was an especially interesting weekend in the ACC, where Virginia Tech helped set the record for the highest attended college football game, a rivalry was renewed, a hype train continued to pick up speed, and two teams were upset by in-state foes. After little movement in Week 2, we have a new team atop the Power Rankings and some other shuffling throughout. Here are your Week 3 ACC Power Rankings.

Tier 1: Atlantic Elite

1 - Florida State Seminoles (2-0, 0-0) LW: 2

Florida State moves into the top spot of these power rankings thanks mostly to Clemson’s early struggles, but that’s not to say the Seminoles haven’t been impressive. In a game that was sandwiched between two huge match-ups, the ‘Noles left no doubt, jumping out to a 28-0 first quarter lead against a depleted Charleston Southern team.

Last week: defeated Charleston Southern 52-8
This week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at Louisville

2 - Clemson Tigers (2-0, 0-0) LW: 1

I thought about moving the Tigers behind Louisville, but at the end of the day, I think I would still favor Clemson in a head-to-head meeting. The defending ACC Champions have been a bit lackadaisical to start the season and can’t find a rhythm on offense. The game against Troy wasn’t as close as the final score indicates, but I still expected better from Clemson. They get one more week to work things out before a three week stretch that includes a Thursday night game at Bobby Dodd, Lamar Jackson, and a date with the Boston College defense.

Last week: defeated Troy 30-24
This week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs South Carolina State

3 - Louisville Cardinals (2-0, 1-0) LW: 3

If Lamar Jackson hasn’t locked up the September Heisman yet, he’ll have a chance to do it this weekend when Florida State rolls into town. The Seminoles will be the young QB’s first real test, but 13 total touchdowns over two games is impressive no matter the competition. The Cardinals will have their hands full, but can make a statement in the national spotlight at high noon this weekend.

Last week: defeated Syracuse 62-28
This week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs Florida State

Tier 2: Coastal Chaos (no longer featuring NC State)

4 - Pittsburgh Panthers (2-0, 0-0) LW: 4

Pitt held off a late charge from Penn State in a renewal of an old rivalry. The Pitt offense woke up this week after an unimpressive opening weekend. RB James Conner looks like he is close to his 2014 form and QB Nathan Peterman was efficient. The defense was disappointing, giving up 332 yards through the air and 4 touchdowns on the ground. For now, Pitt I’m still placing Pitt atop the Coastal, but the poor defensive showing is worrying.

Last week: defeated Penn State 42-39
This week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Oklahoma State

5 - North Carolina Tar Heels (1-1, 0-0) LW: 5

The Tar Heels pulled away from Illinois late, picking up a good road win in the process. QB Mitch Trubisky looked pretty good throwing for two touchdowns and running for two more, but star RB Elijah Hood struggled for much of the game. He had a 62-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, but was otherwise held to 26 yards on 14 carries. Getting Hood going earlier will be critical to North Carolina’s success this season.

Last week: defeated Illinois 48-23
This week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs James Madison

6 - Miami Hurricanes (2-0, 0-0) LW: 6

Strictly based off of what we’ve seen on the field, Miami has probably been the most impressive team in the Coastal, but they’ve done it against Florida A&M and FAU. QB Brad Kaaya was off, throwing two interceptions, but the Hurricanes made up for it on the ground, with Mark Walton and Joseph Yearby both topping 120 rushing yards and combining for 5 touchdowns. The competition will take a step up this week with a trip to Boone to face Appalachian State.

Last week: defeated Florida Atlantic 38-10
This week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at Appalachian State

7 - Virginia Tech Hokies (1-1, 0-0) LW: 7

The Hokies jumped out to an early 14-point lead in front of the record-setting crowd at The Battle at Bristol before fumbling away their chances. Virginia Tech lost 5 fumbles against Tennessee, bringing their season total to 9 through only two games. If they continue to put the ball on the ground at that rate, it’s going to be a long season in Blacksburg.

Last week: loss vs Tennessee 24-45
This week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Boston College

8 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-0, 1-0) LW: 8

Georgia Tech took care of business in week 2 against instate FCS foe Mercer. There weren’t many long, explosive plays, but the offense methodically worked their way up and down the field on the Bears. The defense looks like they will be taking “bend but don’t break” to the extreme this season, which may not work as well against the top of the conference as it did against Boston College and Mercer.

Last week: defeated Mercer 35-10
This week: Saturday, 12:30 pm vs Vanderbilt

Tier 3: Interesting Atlantic Teams

9 - North Carolina State Wolfpack (1-1, 0-0) LW: 9

The Wolfpack offense had a pretty good day, but the defense couldn’t contain East Carolina, who picked up their 6th win in 7 games against ACC foes since 2013. In that same span, NC State is 6-18 against the ACC. Playing at East Carolina isn’t easy, but the result doesn’t bode well for an NC State team that still has Notre Dame, Clemson, FSU, Louisville, UNC, and Miami on the schedule.

Last week: loss at East Carolina 30-33
This week: Saturday, 6:00 pm vs Old Dominion

10 - Boston College Eagles (1-1, 0-1) LW: 12

The Boston College defense dominated UMass on Saturday, holding the Minutemen to -23 yards rushing. The offense flashed some big play capabilities, with WR Jeff Smith catching two long touchdown passes. However, RB Jon Hilliman was held to 2.5 yards per carry. If the Eagles can continue to get 2-3 big plays a game, they’ll be a very dangerous team, but that’s hard to count on against better defenses.

Last week: defeated Massachusetts 26-7
This week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Virginia Tech

11 - Syracuse Orange (1-1, 0-1) LW: 11

A week after running into the Lamar Jackson-Louisville buzz saw, Syracuse will try to right the ship by welcoming South Florida to upstate New York. The Bulls are a pretty good team, so this game could tell us a lot about the kind of team Syracuse will be this season. If they can shake off last week and hang with or even upset USF, the Orange could make some noise this year.

Last week: loss vs Louisville 28-62
This week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs South Florida

12 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-0, 1-0) LW: 13

For the first time under coach Dave Clawson, Wake Forest scored a touchdown and got an ACC victory in the same game. And they scored three touchdowns! On the road! It may seem like a small step, but it’s a giant leap for the Demon Deacons, who have looked inept on offense much of the past few seasons. I have a feeling it won’t last long, but for now, they’re out of the Basement.

Last week: defeated Duke 24-14
This week: Saturday, 6:30 vs Delaware

Tier 4: The Basement

13 - Duke Blue Devils (1-1, 0-1) LW: 10

It appears that I may have been a bit too high on Duke’s performance against a good-not-great FCS team in week 1. Freshman QB Daniel Jones put up numbers again (332 yards through the air plus two touchdowns on the ground) but the Blue Devil rushing attack never got going. Giving up 24 points to a team that only scored 7 on Tulane isn’t a good look for the defense either.

Last week: loss vs Wake Forest 14-24
This week: Saturday, 8:00 at Northwestern

14 - Virginia Cavaliers (0-2, 0-0) LW: 14

Virginia actually performed admirably against Oregon, only losing by 18 points on the road in Eugene. The game was never really in doubt, but it was a nice sign of life from a team that lost big to an FCS team in week 1. Another non-conference road test comes this week against UConn, though this one is much more winnable for the Cavaliers.

Last week: loss at Oregon 26-44
This week: Saturday, 1:30 pm at Connecticut