It was a wild and crazy first weekend of college football. Around the country we saw Big 12 favorite Oklahoma fall to Big 12 hopeful Houston, LSU show they they still don’t know what an offense is, and Texas expose Notre Dame’s defense in an early favorite for Game of the Year. In the ACC a hype train took off, the consensus favorites looked shaky, one team scored seven points and won, and another lost to an FCS team. I don’t want to make too much of one week, so there’s not a lot of movement in this week’s edition of the Power Rankings. We should know a lot more about these teams after a second weekend of football, but for now, here is the Week 2 edition of the FTRS ACC Power Rankings.
Tier 1: Atlantic Elite
1 - Clemson Tigers (1-0, 0-0) LW: 1
The Tigers survived a scare despite Dabo Swinney’s best efforts to give Auburn a chance to pull some Jordan-Hare magic at the end. The defense was impressive, especially in the first half, holding Auburn to 38 total yards. The offense should wake up as the season progresses, especially with WR Mike Williams looking like he did pre-neck injury (9 receptions for 174 yards).
Last week: defeated Auburn 19-13
This week: Saturday, 12:30 pm vs Troy
2 - Florida State Seminoles (1-0, 0-0) LW: 2
It was a tale of two halves for the Seminoles. After a listless first half, the Seminoles came out of the locker room and shut down Ole Miss. New QB Deondre Francois settled in and had a big night and the defense eventually locked in and gave Chad Kelly all kinds of trouble. If second half Florida State is the real version of this team, they’ll be squarely in the playoff conversation all year long.
Last week: defeated Ole Miss 45-34
This week: Saturday, 12:30 pm vs Charleston Southern
3 - Louisville Cardinals (1-0, 0-0) LW: 3
So...are there any seats left on the Lamar Jackson hype train? Asking for a friend. It was against Charlotte, but the Cardinals’ sophomore QB, touted by some as a dark horse Heisman contender, lit up the 49ers for 405 yards and 8 TDs in the first half. I don’t care who you’re playing, that’s impressive. I’ll be interested to see how Jackson plays this week on the road against a conference foe, even if it is just Syracuse. For now, I feel a lot better about putting Louisville into Tier 1.
Last week: defeated Charlotte 70-14
This week: Friday, 8:00 pm at Syracuse
Tier 2: Coastal Chaos (plus NC State)
4 - Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0, 0-0) LW: 4
I’m not going to reorder any of the Coastal teams in this tier just yet. UNC lost to an SEC team, Georgia Tech beat a conference foe but was up and down in doing so, and the rest beat up on FCS teams. I want at least one more data point, preferably against a non-FCS team, before making any changing my preseason rankings.
As for the Panthers, they weren’t particularly impressive in dispatching Villanova, but they got the job done. The passing game will be a work in progress while they try and figure out who their go-to targets are, but the run game was disappointing. Star backs James Conner and Qadree Ollison combined for only 83 yards on the ground, which won’t cut it going forward. Pitt’s success this season will largely rest on the shoulders of their defense, but they need some help from the offense.
Last week: defeated Villanova 28-7
This week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs Penn State
5 - North Carolina Tar Heels (0-1, 0-0) LW: 5
The Tar Heels had a few too many self-inflicted wounds to overcome Saturday evening in the Georgia Dome. Ill-timed penalties and strange play calling ended up dooming their chance at a signature out of conference win. There was some good, as RB Elijah Hood looked excellent despite only carrying 10 times on the day, but the defense started 2016 right where they left off - getting gashed on the ground. If North Carolina is going to defend their division crown, they’ll need to shore up the run defense.
Last week: loss vs Georgia 24-33
This week: Saturday, 7:30 pm at Illinois
6 - Miami Hurricanes (1-0, 0-0) LW: 6
Miami was probably the most impressive team in the Coastal on Saturday, though they did it against one of the worst teams in all of Division I football. QB Brad Kaaya was efficient, throwing 4 TDs on 12-18 passing, three players topped 100 rushing yards, and the defense held FAMU under 200 total yards. FAU will provide a slightly harder test this weekend, but Miami should still roll.
Last week: defeated FAMU 70-3
This week: Saturday, 6:00 pm vs Florida Atlantic
7 - Virginia Tech (1-0, 0-0) LW: 7
The Justin Fuente era got off to a good start in Blacksburg. New QB Jerod Evans looked comfortable passing the ball and the Hokie defense locked down Liberty’s offense. There is still a lot that Virginia Tech needs to work on, as lead back Travon McMillian was held in check (3.0 ypc) and they struggled with ball control (4 fumbles, 2 by Evans).
Last week: defeated Liberty 36-13
This week: Saturday, 8:00 pm vs Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway
8 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-0, 1-0) LW: 8
The Yellow Jackets escaped Ireland with a narrow win and sit alone atop the ACC standings but keep their spot in the middle of these rankings. The passing game was surprisingly effective, but the run game left a lot to be desired. A matchup against in-state foe Mercer should be a good opportunity for the Yellow Jackets to fix the running attack and get a look at some of the backups in game action.
Last week: defeated Boston College 17-14
This week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Mercer
9 - North Carolina State Wolfpack (1-0, 0-0) LW: 9
The OC/QB combo NC State got from Boise State this offseason got off to a good start in Raleigh. QB Ryan Finley was efficient and effective and star RB Matthew Dayes returned from injury without missing a beat, running for 138 yards and 2 TDs in Eli Drinkwitz’s offense. The defense also got off to a great start, holding the Tribe, ranked 10th in the preseason FCS poll, to 1-8 on 3rd down and 168 total yards on the day.
Last week: defeated William & Mary 48-14
This week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at East Carolina
10 - Duke Blue Devils (1-0, 0-0) LW: 10
Duke gets bumped up a tier after a great first game from freshman QB Daniel Jones. “The Future,” as some in Durham have nicknamed him, was effective through the air and on the ground and didn’t make many freshman plays. It remains to be seen what he can do against an FBS team, but for now I trust David Cutcliffe to get the most out of his team.
Last week: defeated North Carolina Central 49-6
This week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Wake Forest
Tier 3: Interesting Atlantic Teams
11 - Syracuse Orange (1-0, 0-0) LW: 11
In another ACC-FCS matchup, the Orange were able to throw all over Colgate, running the Raiders up and down the field in Dino Babers’s high tempo system. The victory was a good sign for the Syracuse faithful, but the new coach’s first test comes on Friday, and it could be brutal.
Last week: defeated Colgate 33-7
This week: Friday, 8:00 pm vs Louisville
12 - Boston College Eagles (0-1, 0-1) LW: 13
The Eagles allowed a late score to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory but all is not lost. The defense looked nearly as good as last year’s elite unit, largely holding Georgia Tech’s vaunted run game in check. The offense showed some signs of life behind new QB Patrick Towles and RB Jon Hilliman, who looks fully recovered from last year’s injury.
Last week: loss vs Georgia Tech 14-17
This week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs Massachusetts in Foxboro, MA
Tier 4: The Basement
13 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0, 0-0) LW: 14
A 7-3 win over Tulane isn’t going to get anyone excited in Winston-Salem, but they managed to get that win, which is more than we can say for some teams...
Last week: defeated Tulane 7-3
This week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Duke
14 - Virginia Cavaliers (0-1, 0-0) LW: 12
Richmond is a top 5 FCS team but any loss to an FCS by three scores at home will find you at the bottom of these rankings real quick.
Last week: loss vs Richmond 20-37
This week: Saturday, 10:30 pm at Oregon