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ACC Power Rankings: Week 4

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Pitt Wins Big, Virginia Survives

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This was another fun week of college football. I didn’t stay up late to watch UCLA against Washington State, but boy I really should have. UCLA scored 50 points in 18 minutes for a huge second half comeback. We might not score 50 points all year. Let’s get to the rankings.

1 - #1 Clemson Tigers (4-0, 2-0)

Yawn. Clemson wins another big one, this time over Charlotte 52-10. This one was over early and Clemson played their entire roster including three quarterbacks. The starters didn’t need to do a whole bunch. This team is getting a whole bunch of experience which will come in handy in future seasons. They now face possibly their hardest test the rest of the year when they head to Chapel Hill on Saturday.

This Week: Win 52-10 vs. Charlotte

Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 at UNC

2 - #18 Virginia Cavaliers (4-0, 2-0)

The ACC’s second best team had a big scare this week. They fell down 17-0 against Old Dominion early in the second quarter. This would have been the second shocking for the Monarchs in two years after knocking off VT last year. Instead, the Hoos rallied and scored 28 unanswered points. It wasn’t the best performance for the Cavs, but they remain undefeated with two ACC wins which keeps them near the top of the rankings. There are causes for concern though. The offense struggles to maintain long drives. They scored two short field touchdowns and a pick-six. So far they have gotten by with converting all of their opportunities. They need to start creating more offensively. They now head to a huge game in South Bend hoping to knock off the Irish right after they hung with UGA in Athens.

This Week: Win 28-17 vs. Old Dominion

Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 at Notre Dame

3 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-0, 0-0)

Wake Forest completes the non-conference portion of their schedule undefeated and on the fringe of poll rankings (They are just outside the AP poll and #24 in the Coaches’ Poll). This was their easiest game of the season as they had no trouble with Elon. Jamie Newman torched the Phoenix for 351 yards and 5 touchdowns and the Deacons averaged over 5 yards per carry. The defense had few issues. They fumbled three times, which is concerning even though they recovered all three. I had to look hard for negatives here. They now start the ACC season with a road game against BC. They should win this game, but I’m not as confident as I should be.

This Week: Win 49-7 vs. Elon

Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 at Boston College

4 - Pittsburgh Panthers (2-2, 0-1)

Pitt grabbed the ACC’s best win of the year with a home win against UCF. This game was wild. They got up big early with a 21-0 lead, but then let the game seemingly slip between their fingers as UCF came back and pulled ahead 31-21. But, Pitt didn’t come back. They showed resilience and ended up down 6 with 1 minute left and a 4th and goal at the UCF 3 yard line. Pitt scored on a wildcat reverse pass to the quarterback for the game-winning touchdown. Pitt got their run game mojo back and averaged 5.3 yards per carry a week after just getting 1 ypc. This team has had the toughest opening schedule of any ACC team and came out alive and looking better than many expected. They get a bit of a reprieve against Delaware this week.

This Week: Win 35-34 vs. UCF

Next Week: Saturday at 12:30 vs. Delaware

5 - Duke Blue Devils (2-1, 0-0)

Duke is here by default. They got smoked by Alabama before easily beating MTSU and NC A&T. No real games to evaluate them on. They come off a bye with a trip to Blacksburg against the struggling Hokies. A win here would be huge. A loss would send them plummeting in the rankings.

This Week: BYE

Next Week: Friday at 7 at Virginia Tech

6 - North Carolina Tar Heels (2-2, 1-0)

North Carolina’s first two games ended in intense fourth quarter comebacks with the Tar Heels coming out on top. Their next two games ended in a furious fourth quarter comeback attempts that fell just short. This team may have been the most exciting in the country. This week it was Appalachian State who was able to take down the Heels in Chapel Hill. Quarterback Sam Howell played well for parts of the game, but he had three turnovers (2 picks and a fumble). That may have been the difference in this one. Offensively they did fine, but Appalachian State has struggled defensively with Ted Roof. There is cause for concern here. The bright side is they are still undefeated in conference. That probably changes this week as they host Clemson. Good luck.

This Week: Lose 34-31 vs. Appalachian State

Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 vs. Clemson

7 - Florida State Seminoles (2-2, 0-1)

The first weeks Florida State has featured a second half collapse. This week against Louisville the Noles got off to a 21 point lead in the first quarter. Yet, by the fourth quarter they found themselves down 24-21. For once, Florida State was able to turn it around and finish the game off for a 35-24 win. Once again the Seminoles relied heavily on Cam Akers giving him 29 carries (112 yards), but new quarterback Alex Hornibrook played better than James Blackman (although Blackman didn’t play too shabby himself). Hornibrook had 255 yards on 12.8 ypa and two touchdowns. The plus-two turnover margin was huge as were the 6 sacks. The next step for the Seminoles is to not have a second half collapse at all. They get another shot to prove themselves against the unproven Wolfpack in Tallahassee.

This Week: Win 35-24 vs. Louisville

Next Week: Saturday at 7:30 vs. NC State

8 - NC State Wolfpack (3-1, 0-0)

Dave Doeren’s team was able to recover from last week’s bad loss with a decent, but unspectacular victory over Ball State. This team has finished up it’s non-conference schedule 3-1, but it really should have been 4-0. There was a lot not to like in this game. Starting quarterback Matthew McKay had only 175 yards on 17/30 passing and 1 interception. The Packs’ primary RB Ricky Person Jr. only got 53 yards on 17 carries (3.1 ypc). This team doesn’t feel quite there yet on either offense or defense. They start their conference schedule with a trip to Tallahassee. Who knows if the Seminoles can keep it together for four quarters. This is a winnable game.

This Week: Win 34-23 vs. Ball State

Next Week: Saturday at 7:30 at Florida State

9 - Miami Hurricanes (2-2, 0-1)

Wow. I had been cutting Miami some slack because I though they lost against two tough teams. UNC still looks okay although they’ve lost two straight so that game has lost a little luster. And now this. Miami barely eked one out against Central Michigan who went 1-11 last year. They won 17-12 on the strength of their defense. Their offense did not look good. Their running back duo had 23 for just 54 yards (2.3 ypc). Jarren Williams was sacked 4 times including a safety. They need to figure something out here. Defensively they mostly shut down the Chippewas. When they didn’t they were able to get a turnover. I’m not sure they’ll be able to count on that all year though. Turnovers don’t always happen. This team needs to figure out their offensive line. Their second bye week of the season seems like a good place to start.

This Week: Win 17-12 vs. Central Michigan

Next Week: BYE

10 - Louisville Cardinals (2-2, 0-1)

The Cardinals lost a heartbreaker in Tallahassee. They fell down early, but the Seminoles patented collapse lead to the Cardinals leading in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t hold on. Malik Cunningham had a solid game at quarterback (though he had to be carted off after the final play). They also ran the ball well and mostly kept Cam Akers in check. They played decently and could have won this game. This team is better than many expected coming into the season, but that doesn’t mean they’re good. A healthy quarterback (be it Cunningham or Puma Pass) would keep in them in most games this season. They now get a bye before welcoming Boston College to Kentucky. That’s a game that could/should lead to their first ACC win this year.

This Week: Lose 35-24 at Florida State

Next Week: BYE

11 - Boston College Eagles (3-1, 1-0)

Normally a win at Rutgers might feel ho-hum. But, a week after the Eagles got beat bad by Kansas at home this game was a sigh of relief. Early in this season it looked like BC might lean more on quarterback Anthony Brown throwing the ball. Never mind that. AJ Dillon had 150 yards on 32 carries while backup running back David Bailey had 82 yards on 12 rushes. Anthony Brown himself an the ball another 11 times. This was old school BC football. They shut down Rutgers run game and tried to make the Scarlet Knights beat them through the air. They couldn’t do enough their to win, especially since the Eagles didn’t turn the ball over once. The sky isn’t falling in Chestnut Hill, Steve Addazio may yet find a way to win 7 games. The Eagles now welcome Wake Forest to Boston in what should be a tough matchup. BC can’t fall behind early or they may never catch up.

This Week: Win 30-16 at Rutgers

Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 vs. Wake Forest

12 - Syracuse Orange (2-2, 0-1)

Syracuse has had a rough couple of weeks. They got blown out by Maryland and Clemson back to back. Then it took until the fourth quarter for them to put away Western Michigan (and the Broncos had their chances). A few things are becoming clear for this team. The first is that defense is just plain bad. WMU’s running back Lavante Bellamy had 165 yards on just 15 carries (11 ypc). That’s unacceptable. If the Orange hadn’t taken the early lead and Western Michigan could commit more to the run then this is a very different game. The offense had a very good game led by Tommy Devito. He had 287 yards on 27/35 passing and 4 touchdowns. Moe Neal had 26 carries for 123 yards. If they can get that level of offensive production it might mask some of their defensive shortcomings. The good news for them is they have some time to work on things. They have Holy Cross this week followed by a bye. We won’t learn more for a while.

This Week: Win 52-33 vs. Western Michigan

Next Week: Saturday at noon vs. Holy Cross

13 - Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1, 0-1)

This was a much needed bye week for the Hokies as the first several weeks of the season have been underwhelming. They get a chance for both the offense and defense to rest up and try to figure out some solutions. A win on Friday at home against Duke and things will be looking way up for the Hokies. A loss and panic could set in with VT in trouble of missing a bowl. This game is one to watch.

This Week: BYE

Next Week: Friday at 7 vs. Duke

14 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-2, 0-1)

A bye was just what this team needed. Hopefully the offense can figure out something, anything to get the ball moving and the defense can figure out how to mitigate their lack of size up front. Temple is angry after a bad loss to Buffalo and looking for revenge on Collins. I expect the Owls to win comfortably.

This Week: BYE

Next Week: Saturday at 3:30 at Temple