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ACC Power Rankings - Week 6

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The Wolfpack surge while injuries took a toll on some contenders

NCAA Football: Louisville at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

1 - Clemson Tigers (6-0, 4-0) LW: 1

The Tigers may have only beat Wake Forest by 14 but the game was never really in doubt. Clemson went up 28-0 early in the 4th quarter before allowing Wake to score a couple of times towards the end of the game. The big concern going for for Dabo’s team is the condition of starting QB Kelly Bryant, who sprained his ankle late in the third quarter. Swinney said that he expects Bryant to be able to go Friday night. If he can’t I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers turn to true freshman Hunter Johnson. He’s been third string but went 5-5 with a TD after Bryant’s injury on Saturday.

Last Week: defeated Wake Forest 28-14
This Week: Friday, 7:00 PM at Syracuse (ESPN)

2 - Miami Hurricanes (4-0, 2-0) LW: 2

The ‘Canes finally got the monkey off their back and beat arch-rival FSU. It took a huge last minute touchdown drive and a gutsy throw from QB Malik Rosier, but Miami is sitting at 4-0 with the Noles in the rear view mirror. Unfortunately, not everything was positive Saturday. Star RB Mark Walton is scheduled to undergo surgery on his right ankle and is done for the season. Travis Homer is the next man up and he’s no slouch. The sophomore is averaging 8.5 yards per carry this season in a change of pace role.

Last Week: defeated Florida State 24-20
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 PM vs Georgia Tech (ABC)

3 - NC State Wolfpack (5-1, 3-0) LW: 6

The Wolfpack are your big movers this week after taking out Louisville in front of an electric crowd on Thursday night. NCST faced two big tests against Atlantic stalwarts FSU and Louisville and has emerged unscathed. It may be time to talk to your kids not just about NC State, Atlantic Division Contender but also about Ryan Finley ACC Player of the Year. Finley has been outstanding this season, completing 71% of his passes while throwing 10 TDs and zero interceptions. Lamar Jackson probably still has the edge now but if Finley and NC State keep this up, it’ll be hard to ignore come voting time.

Last Week: defeated Louisville 39-25
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at Pittsburgh (Regional Affiliates)

4 - Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1, 1-1) LW: 3

In many respects, VT-BC was a pretty similar game to Wake-Clemson. Neither game was a blow out, but the game probably wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Hokies kept BC out of the end zone until there was just 5:38 left in the game. And they did it largely without Cam Phillips, one of the best WRs in the country. Phillips left the game early in the first quarter with a foot sprain and never returned. The bye week comes at a good time for the Hokies who will need their top weapon down the stretch.

Last Week: defeated Boston College 23-10
This Week: Bye Week (next vs UNC 10/21)

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

The Yellow Jackets are coming off their second bye week of the season and looking to make a statement in the Coastal race. They’ll get a Miami team coming off an emotional win and without their best player. It should be one helluva game.

Last Week: Bye Week
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Miami (ABC)

6 - Louisville Cardinals (4-2, 1-2) LW: 4

Lamar Jackson tried his best but he couldn’t quite lead the Cardinals to a win in Raleigh. It was another outstanding effort from Jackson, who put up 427 yards of offense and 3 TDs, but he’s just not getting enough help. The Cardinals’ defense is a sieve against teams with good offenses and the running backs aren’t getting anything done on the ground. The one RB who showed flashes of competency, Malik Williams, suffered a pretty grizzly injury late in the game on Thursday and may be done for the season.

Last Week: lost to NC State 25-39
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm vs Boston College (ACC Network)

7 - Florida State Seminoles (1-3, 1-2) LW: 7

This is shaping up to be a long season for FSU but they actually looked pretty solid against Miami. They were really able to move the ball well on the ground against the Canes with Cam Akers going 20-121 and Jacques Patrick going 11-91. QB James Blackman had some struggles but for the second straight week stepped up and made plays when they needed him to. They’ll have a chance to get right with another trip up to Durham this weekend.

Last Week: lost to Miami 20-24
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at Duke (ESPN2)

8 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-2, 1-2) LW: 8

Wake went into Death Valley without injured starting QB John Wolford and weren’t really able to get much done until the game was out of hand. All 14 Deacon points and about 40% of their total yardage came in the fourth quarter. Backup QB Kendall Hinton put up solid numbers (203 yards, 2 TDs through the air, 94 yards on the ground) but wasn’t particularly efficient (14/30 passing, 3.8 ypc) and Wake struggled on third down (4-16). They’ll have a week to rest up before coming down to Atlanta to face the Yellow Jackets.

Last Week: lost to Clemson 14-28
This Week: Bye Week (next at GT 10/21)

9 - Virginia Cavaliers (4-1, 1-0) LW: 10

Y’all. Virginia looks like they’re going to go bowling. It’s not a sure thing yet, but if they can win two of their next three (at UNC, vs BC, at Pitt) they’ll be at six wins, which is kind of crazy. The Cavaliers were able to ugly up the game against Duke this past weekend while doing just enough to pull out the win. QB Kurt Benkert was off early in the game but recovered to throw three TD passes and pull his team ahead in the second half.

Last Week: defeated Duke 28-21
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at North Carolina (Regional Affiliates)

10 - Duke Blue Devils (4-2, 1-2) LW: 9

Ugh. I was fairly high on Duke relative to the crowd in the preseason and this was a really disappointing effort. QB Daniel Jones had one of the worst games of his career, going 14/42 for 124 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INT in a miserable performance. The defense was solid most of the game, but couldn’t keep UVA off the board when it counted.

Last Week: lost to Virginia 21-28
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs Florida State (ESPN2)

11 - Syracuse Orange (3-3, 1-1) LW: 11

Last time Syracuse and Pitt faced off the final score looked like a basketball game. This time around was considerably lower scoring but the Orange finally came away with a win in a close game. QB Eric Dungey had a typically big day (365 passing yards, 3 total TDs) but the story was Syracuse’s defense. Pitt’s first third down conversion came midway through the fourth quarter. The Orange defense held the Panthers to 3-13 on third down for the day. More efforts like that would go a long way to getting ‘Cuse to 6 wins.

Last Week: defeated Pittsburgh 27-24
This Week: Friday, 7:00 pm vs Clemson

12 - Pittsburgh Panthers (2-4, 0-2) LW: 12

As mentioned in the Syracuse section, Pitt lost this game because they couldn’t string a drive together for the majority of the game. Going over three quarters without a third down conversion is a tough way to win a game. No one could move the ball consistently for the Panthers, outside of two-way star Jordan Whitehead, who led the team with 7 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Last Week: lost to Syracuse 24-27
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs NC State (Regional Affiliates)

13 - Boston College Eagles (2-4, 0-3) LW: 13

Don’t look now but BC is in danger of going winless in the ACC again. They’re 0-3 now with Louisville, Virginia, and Syracuse on the road and NCST and FSU at home remaining. They definitely won’t be favored in any of those games and escaping with a a win in any of them would be a pretty big surprise at this point. Against VT, the offense just could not finish drives, going 2-15 on third down. RB Jon Hilliman had another dismal performance against a good defense, carrying the ball 13 times for just 22 yards (1.7 ypc!).

Last Week: lost to Virginia Tech 10-23
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm at Louisville (ACC Network)

14 - North Carolina Tar Heels (1-5, 0-4) LW: 14

The year of injuries continued for North Carolina. Against Notre Dame, starting safety and starting punter both left the game early with injuries. The battered and bruised Tar Heels were no match for Notre Dame even though the Irish were without starting QB Brandon Wimbush. UNC couldn’t stop anyone on the ground which allowed the Irish to control the clock and chip away at the Heels. This week’s game against UVA may be North Carolina’s best shot at an ACC win (they play Pitt on the road).

Last Week: lost to Notre Dame 10-33
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Virginia (Regional Affiliates)