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ACC Power Rankings - Week 5

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Clemson continues to distance itself from the pack

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

1 - Clemson Tigers (5-0, 3-0) LW: 1

It’s the same story every week but the ACC really is Clemson and everyone else. Playing at night in Blacksburg is one of the harder tasks in the conference but the Tigers didn’t have much of an issue getting the job done. Kelly Bryant wasn’t spectacular but didn’t make mistakes and led the way with 186 yards passing and 94 on the ground. The defense shut down the Hokies for most of the game and forced timely turnovers that were the difference in the game.

Last Week: defeated Virginia Tech 31-17
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs Wake Forest (ESPN2)

2 - Miami Hurricanes (3-0, 1-0) LW: 3

Miami answered a lot of questions under the Friday night lights in Durham. The Hurricanes jumped out to an early lead and then poured more on in the fourth quarter to run away with a 25 point win. Sophomore WR Ahmmon Richards looked great in his first action of the season, going off for 106 yards and a touchdown. With him back and Mark Walton looking like he’ll be okay after going down with a scary injury, the Canes will look to exorcise some demons this weekend against arch rival Florida State.

Last Week: defeated Duke 31-6
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Florida State (ESPN)

3 - Virginia Tech Hokies (4-1, 0-1) LW: 2

There’s really no shame in struggling with Clemson. The Hokies had a hard time stringing together offense when the game was within their grasp but did finish with more yards and first downs than the Tigers. Turnovers were the real difference in this game. In his first conference action, Josh Jackson struggled, throwing two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. VT’s defense tried to keep the ball in Kelly Bryant’s hands and force him into a mistake but came up empty.

Last Week: lost to Virginia Tech 17-31
This Week: Saturday, 7:15 pm at Boston College (ESPN2)

4 - Louisville Cardinals (4-1, 1-1) LW: 4

Louisville did what a good team is supposed to do against FCS competition: blow them out. Lamar Jackson played only one snap in the second half and still put up 349 yards of offense and 4 TDs. The Cardinals spread the ball around on offense and dominated on defense. The Racers gained just 80 yards and scored their only touchdown on a fumble recovery. The Cards have a short week to prep for a much tougher task: NC State in a raucous Carter-Finley Stadium.

Last Week: defeated Murray State 55-10
This Week: Thursday, 8:00 pm at NC State (ESPN)

5 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-1, 2-0) LW: 5

The Yellow Jackets dominated time of possession and chipped away at the Tar Heel defense before breaking the game open in the third quarter. The defense has looked pretty fantastic over the past couple of weeks and nearly pitched a shut out. After a weekend off, the level of competition steps up with Miami, Wake Forest, and Clemson awaiting in October.

Last Week: defeated North Carolina 33-7
This Week: BYE (at Miami 10/7)

6 - NC State Wolfpack (4-1, 2-0) LW: 6

Focused on avoiding a let down after taking down Florida State, NC State jumped out to an early lead, dominated time of possession, and held off a late rally to beat Syracuse and win their fourth straight game. To this point, the Wolfpack had mostly been a passing team but they won this game on the ground. RB Nyheim Hines topped 100 yards on the ground, while all-purpose weapon Jaylen Samuels added another 74 on just 9 carries. The Pack have a chance to establish themselves as Clemson’s top competition in the Atlantic with a win on Thursday night.

Last Week: defeated Syracuse 33-25
This Week: Thursday, 8:00 pm vs Louisville (ESPN)

7 - Florida State Seminoles (1-2, 1-1) LW: 7

A win is a win but, man, that was an ugly one for Florida State. In a bit of a defensive slugfest, the Noles were able to just enough to come away with a win. For most of the game, their only offense was from RBs Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers, who combined for 178 yards on the ground. New QB James Blackman has not great but made one huge throw to seal the game. We’ll see if that pass is a sign of things to come but FSU fans are probably pretty nervous about the state of their offense this season.

Last Week: defeated Wake Forest 26-19
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Miami (ESPN)

8 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-1, 1-1) LW: 9

So close, Wake! So close. The Deacons gave Florida State a heck of a game and came thisclose to a walk-off Hail Mary but weren’t quite able to get the win. Wake’s defense was pretty outstanding, forcing 17 tackles for loss (17!) and just generally living in FSU’s backfield. It’s hard to see how Wake will be able to move the ball consistently against Clemson’s defense but maybe the Deacs’ defense can turn the game into a slug-fest and keep things interesting during another exciting edition of #ACCatNoon.

Last Week: lost to Florida State 19-26
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at Clemson (ESPN2)

9 - Duke Blue Devils (4-1, 1-1) LW: 8

Not much went right for Duke against Miami. Daniel Jones struggled to get anything going on offense, completing just a hair over 50% of his passes and rushing 18 times for just 31 yards. It was, overall, a night to forget for Duke’s offense. If there was a bright spot it was the run defense, which bottled up Mark Walton (3.0 yards per carry). On the year, Duke’s run defense has been excellent, currently ranking 6th nationally in yards per game and 10th in yards per attempt.

Last Week: lost to Miami 6-31
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm at Virginia (ACC Network)

10 - Virginia Cavaliers (3-1, 0-0) LW: 10

UVA is still riding pretty high off of last week’s stunner in Boise. Truth be told, I think there’s a pretty big gap between team 9 and team 10 in these rankings but the Cavaliers will have a chance to prove me wrong when they face off against Duke in Charlottesville this weekend.

Last Week: BYE
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm vs Duke (ACC Network)

11 - Syracuse Orange (2-3, 0-1) LW: 12

Saturday wasn’t a bad day for Syracuse but it was too little, too late. The Orange had a pretty good day through the air with QB Eric Dungey throwing for 385 yards and WRs Ervin Phillips and Steve Ishmael both topping 100 yards. Syracuse looks like the same team they were last year. Great passing game, bad running game, porous defense. On their best day, they’ll throw their way to an upset but it’s an uphill battle.

Last Week: lost to NC State 25-33
This Week: Saturday, 12:30 pm vs Pittsburgh (RSN)

12 - Pittsburgh Panthers (2-3, 0-1) LW: 13

Max Browne won back the starting QB job after ceding it to Ben Dinucci last week against Georgia Tech and had a huge day against Rice. Browne threw for 410 yards and 4 touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a much-needed blow out win. Now, Rice is not even remotely close to a good team (they’re ranked last in the newly updated S&P+) but Pitt dominated from beginning to end. If there is a point of concern, it would be that Pitt was unable to run the ball effectively. Outside of a 24 yard run by CB/ATH Jordan Whitehead, Pitt was held to just 71 yards on 29 carries.

Last Week: defeated Rice 42-10
This Week: Saturday, 12:30 pm at Syracuse (RSN)

13 - Boston College Eagles (2-3, 0-2) LW: 14

The Eagles kept things simple and came away with an easy win against Central Michigan. BC ran the ball as well as they have all season behind the duo of A.J. Dillon and Jon Hilliman and QB Anthony Brown took care of the ball and limited mistakes. The defense also bounced back from a few disappointing performances to turn the Chippewas over 3 times.

Last Week: defeated Central Michigan 27-8
This Week: Saturday, 7:15 pm vs Virginia Tech (ESPN2)

14 - North Carolina Tar Heels (1-4, 0-3) LW: 11

It’s looking more and more like it’s going to be a nightmare of a season for UNC. Saturday was so rough that our friends over at Tar Heel Blog just kind of shrugged when looking for a player of the week. As Tech fans well know, injury plus inexperience does not make for a fun season.

Last Week: lost to Georgia Tech 7-33
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Notre Dame (ABC)