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ACC Power Rankings: Week 1

UNC and BC rise while VT and FSU drop like rocks

NCAA Football: South Carolina at North Carolina Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

This was a big moving week here in week 1. Some teams shocked, like UNC, while others should now be fearing for their seasons. Let’s get to the rankings.

1 - #1 Clemson Tigers (1-0, 1-0)

Well that was easy. If you’re reading this, you probably know what happened. The run game looked unstoppable and the Tigers rolled over Tech. Trevor Lawrence didn’t look fantastic and the defense made a few errors, but otherwise this looked the Clemson team that we expected. Up next they have possibly their hardest game of the season at home against #12 Texas A&M.

Last Week: Win 52-14 vs. Georgia Tech

Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 pm vs. Texas A&M

2 - Virginia Cavaliers (1-0, 1-0)

The Cavaliers were the favorite to win the Coastal and they looked like it on Saturday at Pitt winning 30-14. Virginia was down 14-13 at half, but shut down the Panthers in the second half to secure the win. The Hoos absolutely dominated Pitt’s revamped offensive line and forced Pitt into two interceptions and a whole lot of short gains. The Cavaliers look as good as advertised and now are definitely the favorites to reach the ACC Title Game. Up next UVA gets a little breather against William and Mary before welcoming FSU to Charlottesville.

Last Week: Win 30-14 at Pitt

Next Week: Saturday at 8 pm vs. William and Mary

3 - #22 Syracuse Orange (1-0)

On the bright side, Syracuse absolutely dominated Liberty defensively. They held Liberty to 0 points, -4 rushing yards, had four turnovers, and 14 tackles for loss. On the downside, Syracuse’s normally high flying offense looks set to take a step back this year. Quarterback Tommy DeVito had just 176 yards on 17-35 passing (5.0 yards per attempt) and 2 picks. That’s not great. Two of their four scores came on short fields. I didn’t watch this game so I can’t talk too much about what went wrong, but this has to improve if they want to stay in this spot on my rankings. Next Syracuse heads to Maryland to take on the Terrapins. Syracuse opens as four point favorites so this should be a fun game.

Last Week: Win 24-0 at Liberty

Next Week: Saturday at noon at Maryland

4 - North Carolina State Wolfpack (1-0)

NC State’s opening week win was what they wanted, comfortable and fairly impressive. They did win 34-6 over East Carolina had a lot of good news. Quarterback Matthew McKay was very impressive with 308 yards passing and 35 yards running with a combined 3 touchdowns. Defensively they shut down the Pirates only allowing 1.4 yards rushing and not a whole lot more from ECU’s passing game. Sure ECU isn’t any good, but Dave Doeren looks like he has this team humming again. After facing East Carolina in week 1, they welcome Western Carolina in week 2 in what should be an easy win.

Last Week: Win 34-6 vs. East Carolina

Next Week: Saturday at 12:30 pm vs. Western Carolina

5 - North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0)

New freshman quarterback Sam Howell looked really good. He had 245 yards and two touchdowns on 15-24 passing (10.2 YPA). Additionally, UNC had no trouble running the ball with their two running backs combining for 179 yards on 34 carries (5.3 YPC). Defensively the team struggled some against the run, but only let SCar quarterback Jake Bentley throw for 142 yards and two picks. South Carolina kept taking the lead and North Carolina refused to back down. Howell led two 95+ yard drives in the second half to take the lead and win the game. North Carolina gets no reprieve with a home game against Miami next week.

Last Week: Win 24-0 vs. South Carolina in Charlotte

Next Week: Saturday at 8 pm vs. Miami

6 - Boston College Eagles (1-0, 1-0)

Many, including me, had their doubts about BC. They lost a ton on defense and have never really had a good offense under Steve Addazio. Nevertheless the Eagles were able to pull out a huge home win in week 1 against Virginia Tech. VT’s strategy was obvious. Stop AJ Dillon and make quarterback Anthony Brown beat them. Beat them he did. He had 275 yards and 2 touchdowns on only 26 throws. The Eagles stuffed VT’s run game, but the Hokies got theirs through the air. Unfortunately quarterback Ryan Willis also threw 3 picks and fumbled helping BC on their way to a +4 turnover margin. BC can’t count on that every week, but for now they’ll take the undefeated record. BC now gets to look forward to the next three weeks vs. Richmond, vs. Kansas, and at Rutgers.

Last Week: Win 35-28 vs. Virginia Tech

Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 pm vs. Richmond

7 - Miami Hurricanes (0-1)

Miami sat last week out after losing week 0 to Florida. They move down just because some teams had looked good last week. They now have a big chance this week against the resurgent Tar Heels.

Last Week: Bye

Next Week: Saturday at 8 pm at UNC

8 - Virginia Tech Hokies (0-1, 0-1)

That was not the way the Hokies wanted to start the season. The Hokies had five turnovers for a -4 turnover margin and was still in the game late into the fourth quarter. Turnovers gave BC some short field touchdowns (17 yards and 28 drives). Still, this defense did not look as good as they should have with Bud Foster coaching and a ton of experience returning. Ryan Willis moved the ball with little issue when he wasn’t throwing picks or fumbling. There’s a lot to be positive here for the rest of the season, but they are still disappointed with the result. I said last week that a loss here would feel like the beginning of the end for Justin Fuente. I’m not sure it did. A loss to Old Dominion next week would be.

Last Week: Lose 35-28 at BC

Next Week: Saturday at noon vs. ODU

9 - Florida State Seminoles (0-1)

Last week I ranked FSU a lot higher than many people though I should have. I felt very good about my pick at halftime as FSU led Boise State 31-19 and had looked pretty good. Here is a list of the number of yards gained in each of FSU’s second half drives. 9, 1, 13, 18, -9, 8, -6, 17. That’s not good in the least. In the second half Boise State led by a true freshman quarterback had five drives longer than the Seminole’s longest (which ended with a turnover on downs). Florida State pounded Bronco’s quarterback Hank Bachmeier, but he did not back down. He ended with 407 yards on 30/51 passing and 1 touchdown and 1 interception. They also gave up over 5 YPC to Boise running backs. Florida State moved the ball really well in the first half before falling apart. They just got outplayed at home. They need to improve quick or they will be in trouble again. They have a regroup game against Louisiana-Monroe before heading to Virginia. They have one week to get in a rhythm.

Last Week: Lose 36-31 vs. Boise State in Tallahassee as a neutral site due to Hurricane

Next Week: Saturday at 5 pm vs. ULM

10 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0)

Utah State was 11-2 last year and they should be good again this year although maybe not quite that good. This should have been a tough game and it was. Wake only pulled it out in the final minute by picking off Utah State well in Deacon territory and only up 3. Neither team led by more than 4. This was a very fun game. Wake Forest’s offense moved the ball well led by quarterback Jamie Newman with 401 yards passing and three touchdowns. His main target was Sage Surratt who had 7 catches for 158 yards. Defensively they couldn’t hold the Aggies though. They had 418 yards through the air and running back Jaylen Warren had 141 yards on only 19 carries. Their saving grace was the three interceptions. You would have liked to see Wake Forest win easier, but they’ll take it. Next week they go to Houston to face Rice in what should be an easier game.

Last Week: Win 38-5 vs. Utah State

Next Week: Friday at 8 pm at Rice

11 - Pittsburgh Panthers (0-1, 0-1)

This was not a season that Pitt wanted a tough early season game. They were replacing four offensive linemen and two great running backs. It showed. Pitt only had 3.4 YPC when rushing running backs and quarterback Kenny Pickett was sacked 4 times and hurried 7 more. Pickett wasn’t able to overcome that and only threw 21/41 for 185 yards, 1 TD, and 2 interceptions. Virginia is good, but they’ll have to find a way to move the ball better. Pitt’s defense looked solid (all three Virginia touchdowns started within the Pitt 30 yard line) and that can certainly win them some games. If the offense starts to gel they still have the potential to be pretty good this year. Next week they have another tough game at home against Ohio.

Last Week: Lose 30-14 vs. Virginia

Next Week: Saturday at 11 am (yes, 11 am) vs. Ohio

12 - Duke Blue Devils (0-1)

Okay so Duke got blown out. It was against Alabama. There were bright spots. Alabama took a while before breaking through. Duke ran the ball pretty well. But, they did lose 42-3 and weren’t even able to muster 100 yards passing. Duke got 1 sack on 36 drop backs. We knew Duke wasn’t going to compete in this game so we did not learn a whole lot. The lack of passing is concerning as Duke tries to replace Daniel Jones. Next Duke has a game against NC A&T. If they struggle to throw against the Aggies then there will be serious cause for concern.

Last Week: Lose 42-3 vs. Alabama in Atlanta

Next Week: Saturday at 4 pm vs. NC A&T

13 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (0-1, 0-1)

Okay so GT got blown out. I assume you guys know what happened so I’ll keep this part short. The defensive backfield and the run game looked alright while the run defense and passing left a lot to be desired. In good news for this team, next week’s opponent, USF, just got beatdown 49-0 against Wisconsin. This is a winnable game and Tech is even favored by 4.

14 - Louisville Cardinals (0-0)

Because of Labor Day Louisville is playing tonight at home against Notre Dame. I expect the Irish to roll, and if Louisville is able to keep it close I might move them above Georgia Tech.

This Week: Tonight at 8 pm vs. Notre Dame

Next week: Saturday at 7 pm vs. Eastern Kentucky