1 - #4 Clemson Tigers (6-0, 3-0, S&P+ #2) - Last Week: 1
Dang, Clemson. The Tigers got out to a slow start but eventually turned on the jets and flew past Wake Forest. Just about everything went right for Clemson on Saturday. Trevor Lawrence returned after missing the end of the Syracuse game to complete 20 of 25 passes for 175 yards and 2 TDs. The three-headed RB monster of Travis Etienne, Adam Choice, and Lyn-J Dixon all topped 125 yards rushing with at least 12 yards per carry. The defense held one of the conference’s most productive passing offenses to just 74 yards. WR Hunter Renfrow played three positions. Just a tremendous performance all around.
Last Week: defeated Wake Forest 63-3
This Week: BYE (next vs #20 NC State on 10/20)
2 - #20 NC State Wolfpack (5-0, 2-0, S&P+ #22) - Last Week: 3
The Wolfpack almost let a 28-3 lead get away from them but managed to hold off Boston College down the stretch to stay unbeaten. Turnovers and a late blocked punt that the Eagles returned for a touchdown made the game look a little closer than it actually was. The Pack dominated time of possession, 41:30 to 18:30, put up 533 total yards to BC’s 318, and went 10/15 on 3rd downs while holding the Eagles to 1/10. State obviously needs to clean up the turnover issue but their defense and run game seem to be improving week-to-week.
Last Week: defeated Boston College 28-23
This Week: BYE (next at #4 Clemson on 10/20)
3 - #16 Miami Hurricanes (5-1, 2-0, S&P+ #16) - Last Week: 2
It took a second half comeback but Miami was able to turn around a slow start and escape with a rivalry win over Florida State. The Hurricanes fell behind 27-7 after a Florida State punt return touchdown early in the second half before stringing together three touchdowns to take the lead. Miami’s defense really showed out, holding FSU to just 200 yards of offense and forcing a pair of huge turnovers. On offense, while QB N’Kosi Perry has energized Miami’s and accounted for all four touchdowns on Saturday, he only completed 40.6% of his passes against FSU. On the season he’s completing 56.6%, though the sample size is still fairly small.
Last Week: defeated Florida State 28-27
This Week: Saturday at 7:00 pm at Virginia (ESPN2)
4 - Virginia Tech Hokies (3-2, 2-0, S&P+ #47) - Last Week: 4
Saturday night was pretty disappointing for Virginia Tech but there’s no real shame in losing to Notre Dame. The Irish look like they’ve turned a corner after switching quarterbacks and are very much a playoff contender. Virginia Tech isn’t there quite yet but they’re still solidly in the top half of the ACC. Even against the Irish, QB Ryan Willis had a pretty big day, throwing for 309 yards and a pair of scores. It will be intersting to see if Josh Jackson gets the starting job back when he returns from injury. With Willis, the Hokie passing attack has been much more potent.
Last Week: lost to Notre Dame 23-45
This Week: Saturday at 7:00 pm at North Carolina (ESPNU)
5 - Duke Blue Devils (4-1, 0-1, S&P+ #42) - Last Week: 6
It was a good bye week for Duke. The Blue Devils had a week for QB Daniel Jones to continue to heal from a broken collarbone, the defense had a week to prepare for Paul Johnson’s flexbone, and they moved up in the power rankings thanks to Syracuse’s loss. I nearly put them in front of VT but they did lose to the Hokies by 3 scores last time out.
Last Week: BYE
This Week: Saturday at 12:20 pm at Georgia Tech (Raycom)
6 - Virginia Cavaliers (3-2, 1-1, S&P+ #43) - Last Week: 8
I guess we’ll put Virginia here. Maybe? I really struggled with the teams in this area of the rankings. UVA has looked really good at times and struggled at others. Analytics tend to like them a bit more than the eye test. This Saturday, they’ll host Coastal Favorite Miami in a game that could get pretty interesting, especially if you’re not buying the Hurricanes. Your FTRS ACC Power Rankings Non-GT Game of the Week, Ladies and Gents.
Last Week: BYE
This Week: Saturday at 7:00 pm vs #16 Miami (ESPN2)
7 - Syracuse Orange (4-2, 1-2, S&P+ #60) - Last Week: 5
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Syracuse. First they lost a heartbreaker to Clemson, then they dropped a game to Pitt in overtime. Pitt’s defense really got after QB Eric Dungey, keeping him off balance, holding him under 50% passing, and picking him off twice. Their rushing defense also really struggled for a second straight week, giving up 265 yards on 5.6 yards per carry. The Orange will have a week off to gather themselves before hosting North Carolina in a “get-right” game.
Last Week: lost at Pittsburgh 37-44 (OT)
This Week: BYE (next vs UNC on 10/20)
8 - Boston College Eagles (4-2, 1-1, S&P+ #51) - Last Week: 7
Without their star running back, Boston College struggled for the majority of their game against NC State before making a late comeback attempt that fell short. NC State’s defense had been mediocre for much of the season, but the Eagles only managed 318 total yards and only converted 1 of 10 3rd downs. Defensively BC forced 4 turnovers but gave up over 500 total yards. There’s no update on AJ Dillon’s availability for this weekend yet, but the Eagles should have an easier time moving the ball against Louisville.
Last Week: lost at #23 NC State 23-28
This Week: Saturday at 12:30 pm vs Louisville (RSN)
9 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-3, 1-2, S&P+ #56) - Last Week: 11
Georgia Tech’s offense has been nearly flawless in two consecutive games. Neither Bowling Green nor Louisville sport a particularly fearsome defense but the Jackets ran straight through both teams. The competition ramps up in a big way this weekend when Duke rolls onto The Flats. Tech’s offense needs to keep on keeping on while the defense will need to step up in a big way for GT to win this pivotal game.
Last Week: defeated Louisville 66-31
This Week: Saturday at 12:20 pm vs Duke (Raycom)
10 - Pittsburgh Panthers (3-3, 2-1, S&P+ #73) - Last Week: 12
Pitt might be the hardest team to rank just because of how different they look week-to-week. The Panthers beat Georgia Tech and Syracuse but lost to North Carolina, who has looked awful outside of that game. I’m sympathetic to the argument that Pitt should be ranked higher but I just trust them less than Tech, BC, and Syracuse. We’ll see if they can scare Notre Dame this weekend or if they repeat their other performances against top-level competition (blow out loses to Penn State and UCF).
11 - Florida State Seminoles (3-3, 1-3, S&P+ #69) - Last Week: 9
The Seminoles came oh so close to upsetting Miami but couldn’t close the deal in the second half. Florida State jumped out to a 27-7 lead before giving up 21 unanswered points to end the game. That lead was a bit of a mirage - FSU totaled just 200 total yards on the game and scored a special teams touchdown - but it’s definitely disappointing that the defense couldn’t hold a 20 point lead.
Last Week: lost at #17 Miami 27-28
This Week: BYE (next vs Wake Forest on 10/20)
12 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-3, 0-2, S&P+ #89) - Last Week: 10
Yikes. When Wake Forest took on Notre Dame a few weeks back, the Deacs got blown out but they were able to move the ball and still put up 27 points. It looked like Wake’s offense would be at least decent even against elite college football defenses. That was not the case against Clemson. QB Sam Hartman passed for just 74 yards and Wake faced 21 3rd downs, only converting on 5 of them. Defensively, the were hardly a speed bump for the Clemson running backs giving up over 470 yards on the ground.
Last Week: lost to #4 Clemson 3-63
This Week: BYE (next at Florida State on 10/20)
13 - North Carolina Tar Heels (1-3, 1-1, S&P+ #98) - Last Week: 14
UNC got some bad news yesterday when they learned that QB Chazz Surratt would be out for the remainder of the season with a wrist injury. Surratt started for much of last season but was one of the players suspended for the first four weeks of the season. With Surratt out, Nathan Elliott now has a firm command of the starting job going forward.
Last Week: BYE
This Week: Saturday at 7:00 pm vs Virginia Tech (ESPNU)
14 - Louisville Cardinals (2-4, 0-3, S&P+ #99) - Last Week: 13
Last Friday was a tough night in a tough for Louisville. The offense turned the ball over three times and the run defense couldn’t stop any Georgia Tech ball carriers. The Cardinals have a tall task this week when they head to Chestnut Hill to play Boston College, especially if the Eagles’ star RB AJ Dillon is able to return after missing last week with an injury. Last season, Louisville was Dillon’s breakout game. The then-freshman back toted the rock 39 times and racked up 272 yards and 4 touchdowns. For the Cards’ sake, I hope they fare better this time around.
Last Week: lost to Georgia Tech 31-66
This Week: Saturday at 12:30 pm at Boston College (RSN)