It was chaos week around the country, with 3 top 10 teams falling, and the ACC did not escape unscathed. After another wild weekend it’s a bit tougher to figure out how the conference is going to shake out but we’re going to give it a shot. So without further ado, your Week 7 ACC Power Rankings.
1a - Clemson Tigers (6-1, 4-1) LW: 1
I’m cheating a bit by going to a 1a and 1b atop the standings. If Clemson comes out of their bye week with a fully healthy Kelly Bryant, they’re still the best team in the conference. If they have to turn to Zerrick Cooper or Hunter Johnson at QB, they might not be. Bryant was fighting through a sprained ankle against Syracuse that sapped his mobility and playmaking ability before leaving the game with a concussion. Cooper came in for the second half but was not a threat on the ground. If Bryant’s back to 100% sooner than later the Tigers should recover from this just fine.
Last Week: lost to Syracuse 24-27
This Week: Bye (Next vs GT 10/28)
1b - Miami Hurricanes (5-0, 3-0) LW: 2
If not Clemson, then I guess Miami is the class of the ACC? They’ve needed last minute comebacks and miracle catches to escape the last two weeks with wins but they count as wins just the same. Their remaining schedule isn’t easy but all their remotely challenging games are at home in South Florida. Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia, and Virginia Tech all have to go to Hard Rock. The Canes’ only remaining road games are against Pitt and UNC. At this point seeing anyone else represent the Coastal in Charlotte will be an upset.
Last Week: defeated Georgia Tech 25-24
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Syracuse (ESPN)
3 - NC State Wolfpack (6-1, 4-0) LW: 3
Suddenly the Wolfpack control their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic and play Clemson at home the week after the Tigers have to deal with Georgia Tech’s offense. Ryan Finley and the NC State offense have been humming and it was no different against Pitt. Finley didn’t have his best game but he limited mistakes and RB Nyheim Hines had a season-high 135 yards on the ground to carry the Pack to a win.
Last Week: defeated Pittsburgh 35-17
This Week: Bye (Next at Notre Dame 10/28)
4 - Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1, 1-1) LW: 4
Justin Jackson and company will get back to action this week against the hapless Tar Heels in what should be a fairly easy matchup.
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs North Carolina (ESPN2)
5 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-2, 2-1) LW: 5
Another heartbreaking loss for Georgia Tech. The biggest concern coming out of this game is likely the injuries to starters KirVonte Benson, Brant Mitchell, and Step Durham. Tech will need those guys back sooner than later to have any chance of hanging in the Coastal race. They’ll have a chance to get back on the right foot this weekend in the friendly confines against Wake Forest.
Last Week: lost to Miami 24-25
This Week: Saturday, 7:30 pm vs Wake Forest (ESPNU)
6 - Florida State Seminoles (2-3, 2-2) LW: 7
The Seminoles offense is still struggling to find their footing with true freshman James Blackman under center but there are signs that a breakthrough might be coming. Florida State’s ground game has been improving with each game and Blackman only had one pass hit the ground all day...the problem was two of his three incompletions were interceptions. Florida State probably should have put up more than they did against Duke and will need to convert more drives into points to have a chance at turning their season around.
Last Week: defeated Duke 17-10
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs Louisville (ESPN)
7 - Virginia Cavaliers (5-1, 2-0) LW: 9
Is Virginia good? Or at least secretly decent? I don’t know but I do know they have a chance to be the third ACC team to clinch a bowl berth if they can take out BC at home next weekend. The Cavalier’s Year 2 turnaround under Bronco Mendenhall has been nothing short of shocking. Against UNC, UVA controlled the ball (39:58 TOP) and got big performances from QB Kurt Benkert (19/31 249 2TDs) and RB Jordan Ellis (27 carries, 136 yards) to carry them to a victory.
Last Week: defeated North Carolina 20-14
This Week: Saturday, 12:30 pm vs Boston College (ACC Network)
8 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-2, 1-2) LW: 8
Wake Forest will head down to Bobby Dodd for a primetime showdown against Georgia Tech. Can the Deacons convert their extra time to prepare into success against the option offense?
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Saturday, 7:30 pm at Georgia Tech (ESPNU)
9 - Syracuse Orange (4-3, 2-1) LW: 11
The score doesn’t really show it but Syracuse kind of dominated Clemson Friday night. The Orange controlled the clock, holding the ball for nearly 35 minutes despite running an offense that’s fairly fast paced. Eric Dungey is a stud at QB but the real story of the game was Syracuse’s defense, who held Clemson to 2-11 on third down. If the defense’s performance is real the Orange might not be done pulling upsets this season.
Last Week: defeated Clemson 27-24
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Miami (ESPN)
10 - Louisville Cardinals (4-3, 1-3) LW: 6
Heading into this week, everyone knew that Louisville’s defense was not very good. I don’t anyone expected them to be bad enough to let Boston College keep pace with the Cardinals’ offense. Lamar Jackson put up 512 total yards and 5 total touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough. People have been saying for a while now that Louisville was a 6-6 team that Jackson would drag to 9 wins. They might be an even worse team that Jackson drags to 6-6.
Last Week: lost to Boston College 42-45
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at Florida State (ESPN)
11 - Duke Blue Devils (4-3, 1-3) LW: 10
Daniel Jones and Duke’s offense have been pretty disappointing this season. Against Florida State, Jones wasn’t exactly bad (22/35 204 yards) but he didn’t make big plays needed to win the game. This was also the worst showing from Duke’s defense all season. The Blue Devil’s run defense had been really strong, but they gave up 228 yards to the Seminoles. I still think Duke’s going to find their way to a bowl game but the schedule is tightening up on them.
Last Week: lost to Florida State 10-17
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm vs Pittsburgh (ESPN3)
12 - Boston College Eagles (3-4, 1-3) LW: 13
Eagles! Where did this offensive explosion come from? BC rallied from down 14 to take the lead and win the game on the road against the reigning Heisman winner. Starting QB Anthony Brown (5/17 100 yards 1 TD 1 INT) and RB Jon Hilliman (6 carries, 12 yards, 1 TD) both struggled but the backups were superb and led the comeback. QB Darius Wade was 7/10 for 91 yards while freshman RB AJ Dillon carried the ball 39 times for 272 yards and 4 touchdowns. I don’t know if this will prove to be more than a flash in the pan, but the Eagles might just find their way into a bowl game again.
Last Week: defeated Louisville 45-42
This Week: Saturday, 12:30 at Virginia (ACC Network)
13 - Pittsburgh Panthers (2-5, 0-3) LW: 12
The Panthers hung with the Pack through 3 quarters before falling off the pace in the fourth and ending with an 18 point loss. Even with QB Max Browne out for the season, Pitt still used two quarterbacks, with Ben Dinucci starting and playing the whole first half before ceding time to freshman Kenny Pickett, who was just 5/13. The decision to give Pickett time is especially confusing because the game was still in play in the third quarter.
Last Week: lost to NC State 17-35
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm at Duke (ESPN3)
14 - North Carolina Tar Heels (1-6, 0-4) LW: 14
The Tar Heels are on the brink of bowl elimination after a disappointing effort against Virginia. Transfer QB Brandon Harris started in place of Chazz Surratt and struggled to get anything going through the air. The Tar Heels’ lone bright spot was freshman RB Michael Carter who rushed for 157 yards and two TDs on just 13 carries.
Last Week: lost to Virginia 14-20
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Virginia Tech (ESPN2)