After 10 weeks of football, there’s some pretty stark gradations in the ACC standings. The front runners in each division were solidified Saturday with wins over the clear second best teams. After that, there’s a group of about 5 teams that are near-impossible to rank, a trio a step below that, and then a pair of basketball power houses sinking towards the bottom. There’s only a few more weeks left in the season, so let’s move along to the Week 10 Power Rankings.
1 - Clemson Tigers (8-1, 6-1) LW: 1
Clemson held off a very game NC State squad to reclaim their spot atop the Atlantic Division. The Tigers weren’t spectacular but the got the job done behind QB Kelly Bryant’s workman like day. Bryant threw for 191 yards and one touchdown, while carrying the ball 20 times for 88 yards and two more touchdowns. The defense showed some holes, especially in the secondary, but is there anyone on their schedule that can take advantage?
Last Week: defeated NC State 38-31
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Florida State (ESPN)
2 - Miami Hurricanes (8-0, 6-0) LW: 2
Miami finally put the pieces together to pick up an impressive looking win. The defense led the way, holding Virginia Tech under 300 total yards while turning the Hokies over 4 times. QB Malik Rosier had a bit of a tough time through the air (under 50% completion percentage, 3 interceptions) but had the best game of his career on the ground with 84 yards and a touchdown. Paired with RB Travis Homer, the Hurricanes beat up the Hokies on the ground. Next up is a prime time battle with Notre Dame and Miami’s toughest test to date.
Last Week: defeated Virginia Tech 28-10
This Week: Saturday, 8:00 pm vs Notre Dame (ABC)
3 - NC State Wolfpack (6-3, 4-1) LW: 4
The Wolfpack came oh-so close to tying the game up as time wound down in the fourth, but a penalty wiped out a catch that set up 1st and goal and QB Ryan Finley threw a game-ending interception on the next play. Despite that, Finley had a pretty good day against the Tigers defense, putting up 338 yards and 3 touchdowns. NC State proved they could hang with Clemson but need to be careful not to overlook this week’s opponent. Dropping a game at Boston College would wreck a lot of the good feelings around NC State’s season.
Last Week: lost to Clemson 31-38
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at Boston College (ABC/ESPN2)
4 - Virginia Tech Hokies (7-2, 3-2) LW: 3
Virginia Tech looked outclassed against the Hurricanes on Saturday night. Nothing went right on offense and the Hokies really struggled to move the ball. QB Josh Jackson threw two interceptions and, while he did score VT’s lone touchdown, ran for less than a yard per carry. The defense also really struggled to stop Miami’s running game, a potentially worrying development ahead of this weekends game at Georgia Tech.
Last Week: lost to Miami 10-28
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm at Georgia Tech (ACC Network)
5 - Boston College Eagles (5-4, 3-3) LW: 7
BC here feels very, very wrong but as I said in the intro, you can rank 5-9, maybe even 5-11, just about any way you want. The Eagles feel like a different team than they were early in the season. They’ll get their first big test post-resurgence this weekend when NC State comes to town.
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs NC State (ABC/ESPN2)
6 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-4, 3-3) LW: 5
The Yellow Jackets’ collapse against Virginia was yet another disappointing loss this season. There were major failures in all facets of the game and it served to show that instead of floating in a tier of their own between the top teams and the mediocre middle class they are firmly entrenched in the latter. Tech has played much better in the friendly confines of Bobby Dodd Stadium and will get a chance at a signature win this weekend against Virginia Tech.
Last Week: lost to Virginia 36-40
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm vs Virginia Tech (ACC Network)
7 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-4, 2-3) LW: 6
Wake Forest got smoked by a Notre Dame team that racked up 710 yards of offense in a game that really wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Deacons got down early and were trailing 31-10 at halftime. They played better in the second half but weren’t able to cut the lead to two scores until the game’s final minute. Wake will get back to ACC play against division rival Syracuse on Saturday.
Last Week: lost to Notre Dame 37-48
This Week: Saturday, 3:00 pm at Syracuse (RSN)
8 - Louisville Cardinals (5-4, 2-4) LW: 8
Louisville comes out of their bye week with three games to try and recover something from what has been a disappointing season to this point. The Cards should probably win out but with their defense, nothing is guaranteed. First up is a much improved and bowl eligible Virginia team.
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Virginia (ESPNU)
9 - Virginia Cavaliers (6-3, 3-2) LW: 11
In a stunning turn around, the Cavaliers will be bowl eligible in Year 2 under Bronco Mendenhall. They clinched in a wild, rain-soaked, back and forth affair led by QB Kurt Benkert’s gutty, 3 touchdown performance. Virginia did a tremendous job of taking away the edges from Georgia Tech’s option attack and took advantage of a big gap in special teams play. They’ll try and keep the good feelings going on the road in Louisville.
Last Week: defeated Georgia Tech 40-36
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Louisville (ESPNU)
10 - Florida State Seminoles (3-5, 3-4) LW: 12
The ‘Noles got back in the win column by just holding off upset-minded Syracuse. Freshman RB Cam Akers was superb, rushing for 199 yards and 2 touchdowns on 9.0 yards per carry. He looked like every bit of the superstar recruit he was billed as. FSU needed every bit of Akers’ big day because QB James Blackman struggled to get things going vertically in the passing game and the defense was giving up some major yardage to the Orange. Akers will have a much tougher time this weekend against Clemson’s stout run defense.
Last Week: defeated Syracuse 27-24
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Clemson (ESPN)
11 - Syracuse Orange (4-5, 2-3) LW: 9
QB Eric Dungey is one of the toughest players in the conference but he continues to get less help than he needs from his supporting cast. Against Florida State, Dungey threw for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns while carrying the ball 22 times for 109 yards and another score. Syracuse has a few really good receivers but can’t generate a consistent run game outside of Dungey and have a porous defense. I’ll be interested to see how they perform against Wake this weekend.
Last Week: defeated Florida State 24-27
This Week: Saturday, 3:00 pm vs Wake Forest (RSN)
12 - Pittsburgh Panthers (4-5, 2-3) LW: 10
Pitt will continue to try and scrap their way back into bowl eligibility this Thursday night in a battle of disappointing Coastal teams.
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Thursday, 7:30 pm vs North Carolina (ESPN)
13 - Duke Blue Devils (4-5, 1-5) LW: 13
Duke comes off the bye and heads into the veer option portion of their schedule with matchups against Army and Georgia Tech in back to back weeks. No team throws the ball less than the Black Knights who have just 266 passing yards on the season (for reference, Georgia Tech is second to last with 667 yards). Duke’s run defense was very strong in September but has struggled as of late. Did the bye week help them recover their early season form?
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at Army (CBSSN)
14 - North Carolina Tar Heels (1-8, 0-6) LW: 14
The Tar Heels’ injury-riddled season will get an opportunity to be witnessed by the rest of the nation as they get the Thursday night prime time slot for a divisional matchup against Pitt.
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Thursday, 7:30 pm at Pittsburgh (ESPN)