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ACC Power Rankings - Week 3

Can anyone beat Clemson?

NCAA Football: Clemson at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Week 3 is in the books. It was a bit of a light slate in the ACC for this early in the season, with three teams losing games in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. That said, there was still plenty of action. Clemson and Louisville faced off in a rematch of last year’s instant classic. A couple of teams from Tobacco Road continued to make surprising early season statements. Two teams fell behind early - one came back in a big way, while the other...did not. With conference season just around the corner, let’s see how the ACC looks after 3 weeks.

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

If there were any doubters, Clemson silenced them Saturday night. The Tigers have reloaded and they are going to be a factor in the playoff race. QB Kelly Bryant had his best game as a Tiger, going 22/32 for 316 yards and 1 TD plus another 2 TDs on the ground. Maybe more importantly, Clemson finally got something out of their running backs. Tavien Feaster rushed 10 times for 92 yards and looked the part of the lead back while freshman Travis Etienne flashed some big play ability near the end of the game.

Last Week: defeated Louisville 47-21
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Boston College (ESPN2)

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

For about 15 minutes, it looked like VT was headed towards another embarrassing effort against East Carolina, falling behind 17-7 in the first quarter. A couple minutes into the second quarter Josh Jackson hooked up with Cam Phillips for one of his 3 receiving touchdowns and the Hokies were off to the races. I’m not sure what happened in the first quarter but the rest of the game was an absolutely dominant performance.

Last Week: defeated East Carolina 64-17
This Week: Saturday, 2:00 pm vs Old Dominion (ACC Network Extra)

3 - Florida State Seminoles (0-1, 0-0) LW: 2

After three long weeks, the Noles will finally take the field to re-start their season Saturday against a spoiler-minded NC State. James Blackman’s performance against a solid Wolfpack front will be a big indicator for FSU’s chances this season.

Last Week: game against Miami postponed to Oct. 7
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs NC State (ABC/ESPN2)

4 - Miami Hurricanes (1-0, 0-0) LW: 4

Like their rivals to the north, Miami is also coming off a long Irma-induced hiatus. Waiting for them is a matchup against one of the better mid-majors; the Toledo Rockets. The Canes should win this game but if they’re rusty after such a long time off, the Rockets could upset.

Last Week: game against Florida State postponed to Oct. 7
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Toledo (RSN)

5 - Louisville Cardinals (2-1, 1-1) LW: 5

In an “off” game, Lamar Jackson threw for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns while rushing for 64 for more yards. He is basically Louisville’s team at this point. Against an elite Clemson defensive front, Jackson got little help from his offensive line and running backs and was left to try and win the game on his own. He didn’t come all that close but gave an admirable performance nonetheless. The Cards should get back on the winning track this week against Kent State.

Last Week: lost to Clemson 21-47
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs Kent State (RSN)

6 - Duke Blue Devils (3-0, 0-0) LW: 6

The Blue Devils wrapped up their early season non-conference schedule with a 14-point win over floundering Baylor. QB Daniel Jones didn’t have his best day, but Shaun Wilson and the ground game did more than enough to make up the difference. Duke’s control of the ground game has been one of the more impressive parts of their 3-0 start. Most expected the Devils to be led by Daniel Jones but through three games, they’ve averaged 241 yards per game on the ground while giving up just 48.

Last Week: defeated Baylor 34-20
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at North Carolina (ESPNU)

7 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-1, 0-0) LW: 7

A well rested Yellow Jackets team will look to pick up their first FBS win this weekend against a reeling Pittsburgh squad.

Last Week: game against UCF cancelled
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm vs Pittsburgh (ACC Network)

8 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-0, 1-0) LW: 9

Like their in-state foes, Wake Forest is another team sitting at 3-0 with some surprisingly great performances. Utah State isn’t a particularly good team, even by Mountain West standards, but the Deacons had no trouble getting this win. Freshman RB Arkeem Byrd was electric, picking up 120 yards on 19 carries. Wake faces a tough test this week on the road in front of an App State crowd that would love nothing more than to knock off an in-state power conference team.

Last Week: defeated Utah State 46-10
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Appalachian State (ESPN3)

9 - NC State Wolfpack (2-1, 0-0) LW: 8

The Wolfpack took care of business against Furman, putting the game away behind all-purpose star Jaylen Samuels’ 3 touchdown runs. The offense had no problems against the Paladins and the defense didn’t exactly have trouble but it wasn’t the shut down performance many would have liked to see from a much-hyped defensive unit against an FCS team. That defense will get a chance to make a big impression this weekend, facing off against a first time starter in FSU’s James Blackman.

Last Week: defeated Furman 49-16
This Week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at Florida State (ABC/ESPN2)

10 - North Carolina Tar Heels (1-2, 0-1) LW: 11

UNC had to go on the road but they picked up their first win of the season, routing Old Dominion 53-23. Chazz Surratt started the game at QB and didn’t cede time until the game was out of hand. The freshman has clearly gained control of the quarterback job and has performed well through 3 games. He’ll get his first taste of ACC action when the Tar Heels play host to arch-rival Duke on Saturday.

Last Week: defeated Old Dominion 53-23
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm vs Duke (ESPNU)

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

Syracuse bounced back well after a crushing loss to MTSU last week. Facing another G5 opponent, Eric Dungey and Co. came out on fire in the third quarter, scoring 17 points and putting the game away. The Orange’s veteran QB led the team on the ground and through the air, rushing for 105 yards, throwing 279, and scoring 3 total touchdowns. Big plays were enough to get Syracuse a win but ball security (3 turnovers) and discipline (9 penalties for 104 yards) were major issues that could bite them against a better opponent.

Last Week: defeated Central Michigan 41-17
This Week: Saturday, 7:00 pm at LSU (ESPN2)

12 - Pittsburgh Panthers (1-2, 0-0) LW: 10

It feels unfair to rank the Panthers this low. After all, they’ve played two of the top 10 teams in the country in Penn State and Oklahoma State. But Pitt just has not looked like they belonged on the same field as the Nittany Lions or Cowboys. OKST shot out of the gates, going up 35-0 before hitting the 10:00 mark of the second quarter. At halftime it was 49-14. Starting QB Max Browne was benched fairly early for Ben Dinucci who was...okay, I guess (13/25, 228 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT)? Pitt may have a QB controversy on their hands as they prepare to face Oklahoma State’s stylistic opposite: Georgia Tech.

Last Week: lost to Oklahoma State 21-59
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 pm at Georgia Tech (ACC Network)

13 - Virginia Cavaliers (2-1, 0-0) LW: 14

The Cavaliers blew out an AAC team! Good for you, Wahoos! QB Kurt Benkert had a career day - 455 yards passing with 75% completion percentage and 3 touchdowns while 3 different receivers recorded at least 120 yards through the air. UConn is supposed to be near the bottom of the AAC but this was an impressive win for UVA. If they can find a way to hang with Boise on the Smurf Turf, they might end up being a tougher out than many in the ACC expected.

Last Week: defeated Connecticut 38-18
This Week: Friday, 8:00 pm at Boise State (ESPN2)

14 - Boston College Eagles (1-2, 0-1) LW: 13

What a bad day for Boston College’s defense. The Irish steamrolled the Eagles, running for 515 yards and 7 touchdowns. Two players, RB Josh Adams and QB Brandon Wimbush, rushed for over 200 yards. The Eagle offense had a solid game behind QB Anthony Brown and RB Jon Hilliman but the defense was supposed to be a strength. If it’s not, the Eagles are going to be stuck down here all season.

Last Week: lost to Notre Dame 20-49
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 pm at Clemson (ESPN2)