I don’t know anymore. This conference has one great team, one terrible team, and a whole lot of muck in between. Power ranking the ACC this year is an exercise in futility. With that being said here we go.
1 - #3 Clemson Tigers (6-0, 4-0)
That was more like it. In their first game since a close win at UNC the Tigers returned to their dominating ways. Clemson ran FSU off the field in a 45-14 victory at home. The Tigers led 42-0 before giving up some points in garbage time. Trevor Lawrence was a lot better this week accounting for four touchdowns (three passing and one rushing). Travis Etienne had 127 yards rushing on 17 carries as well as 23 yards passing on a trick play. The defense had three interceptions and shut down the Seminoles for most of the game. This looks like the Clemson that we all expected. They now head to Louisville in what should be a win for them.
Last Week: Win 45-14 vs. Florida State
Next Week: Saturday at noon at Louisville
2 - Pittsburgh Panthers (4-2, 1-1)
Pitt won the bye week. They really, really needed Virginia to pick up a loss and the Cavaliers obliged. Pitt has two weak crossover opponents (Syracuse and BC), a head-to-head win over Duke, and Miami and UNC at home. They still have a decent shot at the Coastal. They just need to keep winning. They now head to Syracuse to face off against the Orange in the unofficial Friday night upset spot. They are lightly favored here. They need this win.
Last Week: Bye
Next Week: Friday at 7 at Syracuse
3 - North Carolina Tar Heels (3-3, 2-1)
UNC also benefited from UVA’s loss while on bye although not quite as much as Pitt. They now head to Blacksburg to take on the Hokies. The Heels are light favorites here. With their record they really need a win.
Last Week: Bye
Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 at Virginia Tech
4 - Virginia Cavaliers (4-2, 2-1)
This game shows Virginia’s weaknesses perfectly. Wayne Taulapapa had only 27 yards rushing on 8 carries. He was the Cavaliers leading rusher. They have no balance offensively whatsoever. They are so reliant on Bryce Perkins’ arm and legs. When they face a defense who is able to slow down Perkins, they have no other weapons. This wasn’t to say that they had no chances. Virginia had the ball past Miami’s 25 yard line 6 times and only came up with 9 points. That’s bad. Their defense is good, but it’s not dominant enough to make up for that performance. The Cavaliers were in the driver’s seat for the Coastal, but now they’re mired in the muck with everyone else (except GT). Now they face Duke this week in a really big game for the Coastal. Virginia is a light favorite.
Last Week: Lose 17-9 at Miami
Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 vs. Duke
5 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-1, 1-1)
Want to hear a crazy stat? Dave Clawson is now 0-7 coming off of a bye at Wake Forest after losing at home against Louisville. This game was very simple. The defense could not stop Louisville. At all. They gave up 62 points to the Cardinals although the special teams were responsible for part of that. The defense has been an issue most of the year, but this was a particularly poor effort. Offensively they were mostly able to keep up scoring 59 points. Jamie Newman was very hit or miss at quarterback. He threw for 251 yards on 24-41 passing with three touchdowns and two picks. He was taken out for backup Sam Hartman who led the comeback with 172 yards on 9-15 with two touchdowns. The running backs had a big day with Christian Beal-Smith and Cade Carney combining for 218 yards on just 31 carries (7 ypc). Sage Surratt and Kendall Hinton are a monster receiving duo for this team. The defense is just not good and had a particular issue with mobile quarterbacks. The deacons now welcome FSU to town to get back on the right track. This game is pretty much a toss-up.
Last Week: Lose 62-59 vs. Louisville
Next Week: Saturday at 7:30 vs. Florida State
6 - Duke Blue Devils (4-2, 2-1)
Duke won big this week over Georgia Tech. After giving up a opening drive touchdown, the Blue Devils then scored 38 unanswered points to put the game away before halftime. This includes five straight scoring drives where they gained at least 55 yards and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown. The defense kept forcing the Jackets into three and outs. They barely moved the ball at all in the second half, but a lot of that was them trying to run out the game. Quentin Harris had a good game at quarterback. This was exactly what Duke fans should have wanted from this game. They now head into a massive game in Charlottesville. A loss might knock them out of the ACC Coastal race.
Last Week: Win 41-23 vs. Georgia Tech
Next Week: Saturday at noon at Virginia
7 - Louisville Cardinals (4-2, 2-1)
The Cardinals got a massive win in Winston-Salem against Wake Forest. They got off to a fast start and were able to hold on late thanks to a questionable recovery on a Wake onside kick. The Cardinals offense fired on all cylinders behind quarterbacks Evan Conley and Micale Cunningham. Their mobility gave the Wake defense huge problems. Kudos also to Louisville’s special teams. They had a kickoff returned for a touchdown, another returned for 83 yards, and a 50 yard punt return. Wake Forest was so scared that they were kicking off short just to avoid a return. Now we get to the bad. Louisville gave up 668 yards. That’s a whole ton. They struggled against both passing and rushing. They only had two sacks on over 60 drop-backs. They need to do better there, but this was still a huge win for them. They now continue their tough stretch with Clemson at home. Good luck.
Last Week: Win 62-59 at Wake Forest
Next Week: Saturday at noon vs. Clemson
8 - Florida State Seminoles (3-3, 2-2)
Florida State had no shot at Clemson. The Tigers blew the Seminoles out of the water. FSU had serious trouble passing the ball. James Blackman started and had zero success whatsoever going for just 66 yards on 9-23 passing and two picks. Alex Hornibrook was a little bit better with 84 yards on 8/12 passing and a touchdown and interception. Given that they were behind all game that’s a terrible performance. Florida State got two late scores, but they were well out of the game by then. The Seminoles defense was not able to stop either the rushing or passing attack. They were just entirely outclassed. A win this week at Wake Forest would go a long way to salvaging the season.
Last Week: Lose 45-14 at Clemson
Next Week: Saturday at 7:30 at Wake Forest
9 - Miami Hurricanes (3-3, 1-2)
Well there it was. We finally saw Manny Diaz’s team play up to its potential with a big win over Virginia. This one was all about the defense making timely stops to force Virginia into only 9 points. Miami had five sacks and their fumble recovery was the only turnover of the day. Offensively the team did just enough. N’Kosi Perry had 182 yards passing on 16/27 passing and DeeJay Dallas added 63 yards on 13 carries. Not exactly an offensive outpouring, but enough to get the job done. The Hurricanes look to continue their turnaround efforts against GT at home this week.
Last Week: Win 17-9 vs. Virginia
Next Week: Saturday at noon vs. Georgia Tech
10 - North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-2, 1-1)
The Wolfpack won Thursday night at home in a close game against Syracuse. It should not have been close. The Wolfpack dominated the first half. Syracuse couldn’t get out the shadow of their endzone and NC State was moving the ball, at least until they hit the thirty yard line. They ended the half up 13-0, but it could have been more. The second half saw NC State throw a bad interception and fail to move the ball on other drives. The Orange started to move the ball although they also struggled to turn it into points. NC State did a good job of shortening the game and not giving Syracuse the time for a real comeback. Bailey Hockman was solid through the air with 205 yards on 16/27 passing and the Zonovan Knight/Jordan Houston combo did a decent job on the ground. NC State really, really needed this win and they got it. They now head to BC for another game of middling teams.
Last Week: Win 16-10 vs. Syracuse
Next Week: Saturday at noon at Boston College
11 - Virginia Tech Hokies (4-2, 1-2)
The Hokies stay put after a win over Rhode Island. I thought about moving them up given the win at Miami is looking a whole lot better, but I still think this is the right spot for them. They have an outside shot at the Coastal title, given that they keep winning. This week they were lucky to get a break mid-schedule to give Hendon Hooker some low stress game reps. He had 261 yards on 16/27 passing and three touchdowns. That’s pretty good. They also ran all over the Rams with Deshawn McClease. Rhode Island was able to move the ball which is worrying. The defense looks to continue being an issue. This week they take on UNC at home. A win here would change the outlook greatly and catapult them up the rankings.
Last Week: Win 34-17 vs. Rhode Island
Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 vs. North Carolina
12 - Boston College Eagles (3-3, 1-2)
The Eagles slip up one spot on their bye week as the disappointing loss to Louisville looks a little less bad. This week they welcome NC State to Chestnut Hill. This is a winnable game that’s essentially a toss-up. As far as I can tell no announcement has been made regarding Anthony Brown’s injury, but I’m assuming he’s out. Something to watch out for.
Last Week: Bye
Next Week: Saturday at noon vs. NC State
13 - Syracuse Orange (3-3, 0-2)
That was an ugly loss at North Carolina State. The Wolfpack controlled the game from the very first play. The Orange made timely stops and moved the ball in the second half, but were ultimately unable to take advantage of their chances. Tommy Devito’s box score is not bad, 300 yards on 29/39 passing and a touchdown, but most of that came when Syracuse was already in a decent hole. Syracuse was dominated at the line of scrimmage. Devito got sacked 8 times and the run game never got going at all. Syracuse is now sitting at 3-3 and given their schedule I think it’s more likely than not that they miss a bowl. This week they host Pitt as slight underdogs. This team needs this win.
Last Week: Lose 16-10 at NC State
Next Week: Friday at 7 vs Pitt
14 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-5, 0-3)
Last Week: Lose 41-23 at Duke
Next Week: Saturday at noon at Miami