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ACC Power Rankings - Week 9

Clemson regains sole possession of first place ahead of a big weekend

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

After a bit of a quiet weekend in the ACC it’s time to look ahead to what might the biggest week of the season. Despite 5 teams being off it’s likely that both divisions will be decided this weekend as Clemson heads to Raleigh and Virginia Tech travels to South Florida. Fans of the winning teams in each game will be able to start thinking about spending the first weekend in December in Charlotte. But before we get there, let’s take one more look back at the weekend that was and rank the ACC 1-14.

1 - Clemson Tigers (7-1, 5-1) LW: 1a

The Tigers reclaim sole possession of first place in these Power Rankings after QB Kelly Bryant looked like he was back to full health in Saturday’s win over Georgia Tech. Despite heavy rain, Bryant was effective through the air and led Clemson in rushing with 67 yards on 12 carries. Clemson was able to effectively shake off the Syracuse loss a couple of weeks ago and will look to wrestle back control of the Atlantic Division from NC State on Saturday.

Last Week: defeated Georgia Tech 24-10
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at NC State (ABC)

2 - Miami Hurricanes (7-0, 5-0) LW: 1b

Miami’s tight game against UNC made me go back and look at their resume against Virginia Tech. The Hokies probably have the best win (WVU), they’re blowing more teams out (beat UNC 59-7 a couple weeks ago), and their loss is to a team that is easily the conference’s best when healthy. I went back and forth several times. I have no logical reason to put Miami ahead...but I think Miami beats VT this weekend. I don’t have much to back that up other than Miami just keeps winning. I can’t really justify this but I’m keeping the Canes at #2. Let’s just move on.

Last Week: defeated North Carolina 24-19
This Week: Saturday, 8:00 pm vs Virginia Tech (ABC)

3 - Virginia Tech Hokies (7-1, 3-1) LW: 4

Speaking of VT, the Hokies have been kind of flying under the radar since they lost to Clemson but have been really taking it to teams in the bottom half of the conference. 23-10 over BC (looks better and better each week), 59-7 over UNC, and now 24-3 against Duke. This weekend will be their first real test since they faced the Tigers. They’ll head down to South Florida in what may end up being a defacto Coastal Championship game.

Last Week: defeated Duke 24-3
This Week: Saturday, 8:00 pm at Miami (ABC)

4 - NC State Wolfpack (6-2, 4-0) LW: 3

I think the biggest take away from this game was less about NC State and more that Notre Dame is very much for real. The Wolfpack were off their game all day. Ryan Finley had his worst game of the season and the defense was gashed by the Irish’s running game. The Pack still have a chance to recover and all but stamp a ticket to Charlotte if they can beat Clemson.

Last Week: lost to Notre Dame 14-35
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Clemson (ABC)

5 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-3, 3-2) LW: 5

The Yellow Jackets still really haven’t been able to solve Brent Venables’ Clemson defense. They were able to break 100 rushing yards this year after two straight meetings below the century mark, but still struggled to maintain drives, going 3-15 on 3rd down. Tech heads to Charlottesville this weak in a sneaky big match for both teams’ quest for bowl eligibility.

Last Week: lost to Clemson 10-24
This Week: Saturday, 3:00 pm at Virginia (RSN Affiliates)

6 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-3, 2-3) LW: 7

There’s a strong case to be made that the best QB in Winstom-Salem on Saturday wasn’t the reigning Heisman winner. Wake’s John Wolford had the game of his life, leading the Deacons offense to 625 yards and 42 points. Wolford was 28/34 for 461 yards and 6 total touchdowns. The only bad news is that star WR Greg Dortch suffered an abdominal injury that required season ending surgery. Wake should still make a bowl game but Dortch is a huge loss.

Last Week: defeated Louisville 42-32
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Notre Dame (NBC)

7 - Boston College Eagles (5-4, 3-3) LW: 10

So, I guess this is Boston College now? In their first 6 games, the Eagles scored 98 points and were 2-4. In their last 3, they’ve scored 121 and are 3-0. On Friday night, BC was led by freshman RB AJ Dillon, who carried the ball 33 times for 149 yards. Suddenly Steve Addazio’s job looks pretty safe and the Eagles look like they’re headed back to a bowl game.

Last Week: defeated Florida State 35-3
This Week: Bye (Next vs NC State on 11/11)

8 - Louisville Cardinals (5-4, 2-4) LW: 6

If not for Lamar Jackson, Louisville might be the worst team in the ACC. Even though Wolford out played him, Jackson was spectacular in his won right. Throwing for 330 yards, rushing for 161 more and accounting for 4 TDs. The Cardinals’ offense just couldn’t do enough to make up for the porous defense. Hopefully they’ll be able to use the bye week to make some sort of change and at least put up some resistance against opposing offenses.

Last Week: lost to Wake Forest 32-42
This Week: Bye (Next vs UVA on 11/11)

9 - Syracuse Orange (4-4, 2-2) LW: 8

Last Week: Bye
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm at Florida State (ACC Network)

10 - Pittsburgh Panthers (4-5, 2-3) LW: 12

Pitt has turned their season around by getting back to what they’ve done best for a while now. Running the ball. Against UVA, the Panthers were led by Darrin Hall, who followed up his monster game against Duke with a solid 25 carry 111 yard performance, while backup RB Qadree Ollison provided some big plays (7.8 ypc). QB Ben Dinucci didn’t make mistakes and the defense did just enough to pick up the win. A bowl berth is still unlikely, as it would require an upset of either Miami or VT.

Last Week: defeated Virginia 31-14
This Week: Bye (Next vs UNC on 11/9)

11 - Virginia Cavaliers (5-3, 2-2) LW: 11

The Cavaliers dropped their second straight chance at clinching bowl eligibity on Saturday. UVA matched Pitt’s yardage output and time of possession but couldn’t translate it onto the scoreboard. The Wahoos looked lethargic from the start and just couldn’t string together drives. They get yet another chance at win number 6 this weekend at home against Georgia Tech.

Last Week: lost to Pittsburgh 14-31
This Week: Saturday, 3:00 pm vs Georgia Tech (RSN Affiliates)

12 - Florida State Seminoles (2-5, 2-4) LW: 9

Florida State is very bad at football. Nothing went right for the Noles on Friday night in Chestnut Hill. James Blackman looked the part of an overwhelmed freshman and the running game couldn’t find enough space to take the pressure off of Blackman. The defense allowed BC to run the ball all night. The only bright spot for FSU was the play of WR Nyqwan Murray who had 3 catches for 102 yards.

Last Week: lost to Boston College 3-35
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm vs Syracuse (ACC Network)

13 - Duke Blue Devils (4-5, 1-5) LW: 13

The Blue Devils are in a free fall. QB Daniel Jones is flat out not progressing from the promise he showed early this season and as a freshman. The once-stout run defense has disappeared. The surprisingly good run game they had early in the season is gone. If they can circle the wagons during the bye week, they still have a shot at a bowl game but this is shaping up as a pretty disappointing season in Durham.

Last Week: lost to Virginia Tech 3-24
This Week: Bye (next 11/11 at Army)

14 - North Carolina Tar Heels (1-8, 0-6) LW: 14

The Tar Heels looked as competitive as they have all season against Miami but couldn’t pull off the massive upset. A gutty performance from third string QB Nathan Elliott helped UNC keep pace with the Hurricanes but turnovers would be what doomed the Heels. Four second half turnovers kept UNC from making any sort of progress and doomed the upset bid.

Last Week: lost to Miami 19-24
This Week: Bye (next 11/9 at Pittsburgh)