The Atlantic looks like it’s settling out with Clemson at the top and a pretty stratified hierarchy after that. The Coastal rejects all notions of making sense. Both one loss teams lost leaving there a four way tie (in losses) at the top of the division with the other three having three losses. Could this be the year of the mythical seven way 4-4 tie? I hope so. Let’s get to the rankings.
1 - #4 Clemson Tigers (8-0, 6-0)
Yawn. Another week, another blowout. This week it was BC on the receiving end of a 59-7 shellacking. Trevor Lawrence was nigh unstoppable with 16-19 passing for 275 yards and three touchdowns and Travis Etienne added 109 yards on 16 carries. They had this one in the bag early and the backups also had little issue with the Eagles. BC wasn’t able to pass at all on the Tigers and their run game was held in check. Is Clemson starting to pull it together? We may have to wait until the playoffs to see. Clemson takes it easy next week with a game against Wofford.
Last Week: Win 59-7 vs. Boston College
Next Week: Saturday at 4 vs. Wofford
2 - #23 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-1, 2-1)
On their bye week the Deacons reclaimed the #2 spot in these rankings. They hope to have Jamie Newman back at full health and the bye week should have given them some time to fill holes on their defense. They should win this week against NC State, but Dave Clawson is 0-7 at Wake Forest coming off a bye. He needs to figure out a way to keep his team in the zone.
Last Week: Bye
Next Week: Saturday at noon vs. NC State
3 - Virginia Tech Hokies (5-2, 2-2)
What a bye week for the Hokies. Their dream scenario had Pitt, Virginia, and Duke all losing which is exactly what happened. The Hokies are now in a four-way tie for first place (in the loss column) and control their own destiny. If they win out they head to the ACC Championship. Only one other team (Virginia) can say that for certain. Hopefully Hendon Hooker is back and fully healthy for their game at Notre Dame this week. The good news for them, if they lose this one (which looks likely) then it won’t affect their ACC standing.
Last Week: Bye
Next Week: Satuday at 2:30 at Notre Dame
4 - North Carolina Tar Heels (4-4, 3-2)
It’s a testament to the terribleness of the ACC this year that UNC is at #4 in the power rankings. After their tight win over Duke to win back the Victory Bell and some fortuitous results from the other ACC games UNC is tied for first place in the Coastal. This game was not won by Sam Howell who struggled a lot. The run game was very solid and the defense held the Blue Devils in check and made timely plays. Most notable was intercepting Duke with 18 seconds left and the Blue Devils at the Heels’ three yard line. It looked at that point that the best case for UNC was going to overtime. Instead they eke out the win in regulation. The defense had 5 sacks and three turnovers which was the difference.
Their loss to VT means they have to cheer for them to lose at least one more game. They shouldn’t be thinking of that this week, however, as an ultra-important clash against UVA looms. The Heels will need Sam Howell to play better if they want to win this one.
Last Week: Win 20-17 vs. Duke
Next Week: Saturday at 7:30 vs. Virginia
5 - Louisville Cardinals (5-3, 3-2)
The Cardinals knocked off ACC Coastal favorite Virginia this week. Louisville can’t decide on a quarterback, but their offense is still moving the ball pretty well and the Cards defense was able to bottle up Bryce Perkins. Micale Cunningham had most of the action at quarterback and performed with 126 yards through the air on 6-10 passing and 97 yards on 11 rushes. Javian Hawkins was able to wear down the Cavalier defense with 28 carries for 136 yards (4.8 ypc). Scott Satterfield has pulled a hell of a coaching job with this team. They were left for dead before the season even started, but they now look like one of the best teams in the ACC. Bravo. Now the Cards have a bye week to rest up before playing at Miami
Last Week: Win 28-21 vs. Virginia
Next Week: Bye
6 - Virginia Cavaliers (5-3, 3-2)
This defense is quite good. When the other team is able to limit Bryce Perkins that is not enough. The minus-two turnover margin did not help either. In a game that was a one-possession game for most of the game the Cavaliers dropped back to pass about 50 times and ran it with a running back 13 times. This was the rare game where Wayne Taulapapa got something going with 54 yards on 11 carries, but part of that success was that Louisville was selling out against the pass. Bryce Perkins was 24-41 for just 233 yards and an interception. These coaches do not trust the run game at all. Their one-dimensionality on offense makes them very vulnerable. However, their defense is straight good and one good unit makes them an above average ACC team. They now face a massive matchup against North Carolina. The loser is pretty much out of the Coastal race at this point in the season while the winner may be the favorite.
Last Week: Lose 28-21 at Louisville
Next Week: Saturday at 7:30 at North Carolina
7 - Pittsburgh Panthers (5-3, 2-2)
This was Pitt’s chance to cement themselves at the top of the Coastal race. Instead a loss to Miami at home in miserable weather leaves them tied for first, but giving up a tie-breaker against Virginia. Their offense was only able to put up a single field goal in each quarter as they fell 16-12 to the Hurricanes. The rain was a major factor in this as Kenny Pickett got absolutely nothing going for the offense. He was 18-32 for only 146 yards (4.6 ypa) in addition to two interceptions both of which lead to Miami scores. The run game moved the ball some with over 4 ypc from their running backs, but they could not finish drives. The defense did a good job against Miami, but a short field touchdown and field goal made the difference. The defense did a great job, it just wasn’t enough. Now Pitt heads to Atlanta to take on the Yellow Jackets. The team should be angry about their missed chance heading into that one.
Last Week: Lose 16-12 vs. Miami
Next Week: Saturday at 4 at Georgia Tech
8 - Florida State Seminoles (4-4, 3-2)
The Seminoles did exactly what they needed to do Saturday against Syracuse. They dominated the Orange and were up 35-3 before giving up two garbage time touchdowns. Alex Hornibrook got the nod and was okay with 15-26 passing for 196 yards (7.5 ypa). The real story was Cam Akers though. The top-notch running back had 26 carries for 144 yards and four touchdowns. Khalan Laborn added 68 yards on 17 carries. The defense barely let the Orange move the ball prior to garbage time. They had the killer instinct to put away the Orange in the third quarter. They have to be happy with this result. This week is the rivalry game against Miami. They need a win to guarantee a bowl game this season.
Last Week: Win 35-17 vs. Syracuse
Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 vs. Miami
9 - Miami Hurricanes (4-4, 2-3)
That wasn’t the prettiest win. In fact it was quite ugly. But given the way his first season has gone you know Manny Diaz is happy with the result. After 5 straight home games they finally had an away game in rainy Pittsburgh. The defense bent, but didn’t break forcing Pitt to kick four field goals and score no touchdowns and forced three turnovers. This team struggled offensively. Cam’Ron Harris had just 60 yards on 16 carries (3.8 ypa). N’Kosi Perry struggled with the rain and Pitt’s vaunted defensive line to the tune of 104 yards on 10-24 passing and a pick. Jarren Williams relieved him and had 50 yards on 6-8 passing and a touchdown. He came in and won this game. One bright spot for Miami was only allowing two sacks. They’ve struggled all season with that and Pitt normally gets sacks left and right.
Now this team looks to keep the momentum going with a shorter trip to Tallahassee.
Last Week: Win 16-12 at Pitt
Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 at Florida State
10 - Duke Blue Devils (4-4, 2-3)
Two weeks ago Duke looked like they were in great shape. Now things aren’t looking so hot. They are very unlikely to win the ACC Coastal and are just hoping to get a bowl at this point. Duke was in very good position to win this game. They were down three with 18 seconds left and had 1st and goal at UNC’s three yard line. At worst they should have gone to OT. Instead they run a trick play on 1st down and their running back, Deon Jackson, throws it directly to Chazz Surratt to finish off the game. Offensively they found success on the ground with Deon Jackson going for 91 yards on 19 carries. Quentin Harris wasn’t quite so successful with 229 yards on 22-39 passing and a pick as well as getting sacked 5 times. This was a close game and a if one small thing had gone differently they could have won. Now they’re stuck in the ACC Coastal mire with a bye week coming up and their time to salvage their season dwindling.
Last Week: Lose 20-17 at North Carolina
Next Week: Bye
11 - Boston College Eagles (4-4, 2-3)
I’m not going to dwell on this game too much. The Eagles were straight overmatched by Clemson. They couldn’t throw the ball without Anthony Brown and Clemson keyed on the run holding AJ Dillon mostly in check (he still got 4 yards per carry). Defensively they were dominated. We knew that might happen though. The big for them is this week at Syracuse. They really, really need that win if they want to make a bowl.
Last Week: Lose 59-7 at Clemson
Next Week: Saturday at noon at Syracuse
12 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-5, 1-3)
Georgia Tech seems to be improving a little bit and the bye week should only help them. They come back home with a game against Pitt. This would be a huge win for the program. Alas Pitt looks like they should win this one,
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Saturday at 4 vs. Pitt
13 - North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-3, 1-2)
The Pack needed that bye after Boston College blew their doors off. They now get to face Wake Forest and Clemson in back-to-back weeks. A win would be massive for bowl eligibility.
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Saturday at noon at Wake Forest
14 - Syracuse Orange (3-5, 0-4)
The Orange retain the last place spot after a blowout loss at Florida State. Cuse got nothing going through the air and were entirely unable to stop the Seminoles. The only bright-ish spot was the run game and even that was just okay with a lot of their yardage came when they were already down big. Tommy DeVito dropped back 40 times and only threw for 151 yards. This team needs to figure out something if they want to make a bowl this year. They have a must win at home against BC. What a disaster this season is turning out to be.
Last Week: Lose 35-17 at FSU
Next Week: Saturday at noon vs. Boston College