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ACC Power Rankings: Week 8

And then there were two!

NCAA Football: Miami at North Carolina Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Apologies for the gap in your weekly power rankings over the last two weeks. My weeks have been filled with urgent care visits and Disney World. I won’t compare which had a longer wait time or was more costly, but at least one was much more fun than the other.

Now, we know Coastal Chaos has been lurking in the shadows all season, and we saw it surface last week when Miami willed itself to a loss and refused to just win the game. That blunder erased any margin for errors for the remainder of the season. Their game against undefeated UNC this week became the extra error they couldn’t afford. Miami now sits 0-2 in the ACC and now needs to beat FSU and hope UNC drops three games to even have a shot at the title game.

Going into Saturday, Louisville looked to be in a prime position to ride a weaker conference schedule to victory. All they had to do was beat a lousy Pitt team that benched QB Phil Jurkovec in favor of backup Christian Veilleux. Shouldn’t be a problem for a team that just pantsed Notre Dame, right? Someone forgot to tell Louisville it’s a good idea to score in the second half of the game. The Cards blew a 21-14 lead at halftime with Pitt scoring 24 unanswered to win 38-21.

Duke lost QB Riley Leonard at the end of their loss to Notre Dame two weeks ago. They had a bye week to rest him but announced he would not be available against NC State. That would normally be worrisome for a team whose whole offensive identity had been Riley Leonard. Fortunately, NC State’s offensive identity is as clear as the Chattahoochee River flowing past Six Flags and stinks to the same degree. Duke’s defense continued to play at an excellent level and stonewalled NC State 24-3.

Wake Forest and Virginia Tech faced off in Blacksburg where the Hokies are starting to get on an offensive roll with Kyron Drones leading the offense over the last couple of games. Virginia Tech routed the Demon Deacons 30-13 as the Deacons failed to find an answer with either Griffis or Kern at QB as turnover woes continued. Wake has now slid to a 0-3 start in the ACC after winning their first three games against non-conference opponents. The Hokies are somehow 2-1 and 6th in the ACC with an overall losing record. You know, standard ACC standings.

Florida State continues its dominance on top and clobbered Syracuse 41-3. The Orange barely managed any yards with 261 against FSUs 535. It’s been an ugly road for Syracuse after taking on a light schedule to open the season. They sit at the bottom with winless Wake, Virginia, and Da U is Back Where It Belongs.

Georgia Tech, Virginia, Boston College, and Clemson all took a break to enjoy this fine Fall weather we have had this week.

Power Rankings

  1. Florida State - Few defenses in the ACC look up to the challenge to stop this potent FSU offense. Duke could be one of them next week, but FSU still has a strong talent gap over the emerging Blue Devils. A win this week would almost solidify FSU a spot in the ACC Title Game as they would move to 5-0.
  2. North Carolina - The Tar Heels are the only other unbeaten remaining in the ACC after Louisville fell this week. They too could put some distance between themselves and other teams with a win against a struggling Virginia. Having the NCAA rule in favor of WR Tez Walker to be eligible for the remainder of the season has given Drake Maye a very dangerous weapon.
  3. Duke - Missing your QB for any stretch of time can derail a team's season but Duke has a very capable defense who made sure they stay on course while Riley Leonard heals from a high ankle sprain. He has had two weeks to rest and could suit up again next week when they take on FSU. Should the Blue Devils shock the nation again it would put them in the driver’s seat.
  4. Louisville - It was not a great week for the Cards as their unbeaten streak came to an end with 6 wins. Their season is far from over if they can regroup and take care of the remaining manageable schedule. They get an extra week before taking on Duke who will be their toughest remaining test.
  5. Miami - The Hurricanes get the benefit after losing two straight weeks because they still field a capable team. The loss to Georgia Tech was just stupidity by the coaching staff and UNC isn’t a bad loss. Miami can’t let this turn into a spiral though or the rowdy fans who can’t fill the stands are going to get restless. Oh, they just have to right the ship against Clemson this week.
  6. Clemson - The Tigers avoided any madness this week as they prepared to take on Miami coming up. Clemson can’t afford another misstep and Miami easily has the firepower to hand Clemson their third loss on the season. If that happens this could be the worst season Clemson has had in about a decade.
  7. Georgia Tech - Guess who is sitting 5th overall in the standings coming off a bye and hosting Boston College this week. It feels like Georgia Tech should handle that game, but they should have also handled Bowling Green...but they also stayed close to Miami and won in an improbable fashion. I don’t what this team is going to do from week to week so the middle of the pack seems a good place.
  8. Virginia Tech - The Hokies seem to be coming around as a team. It’s doubtful they make any big splashes to finish the season, but bowl eligibility doesn’t seem so far off either. The schedule sets up favorably for the remainder of the season. Syracuse is reeling from three straight losses and could be vulnerable next week.
  9. Pittsburgh - The Panthers looked more like a dead duck with their offense this season. Credit to them for reviving it with Vielleux and upsetting the unbeaten Louisville Cardinals. Still, Pitt is already in a hole and has some difficult games remaining. Wake Forest provides the next chance to climb back.
  10. Syracuse - Yes, Syracuse got waxed by Florida State but at least we’ve seen them move the ball in their other games. Which can’t be said much for those lower in the rankings. They do have a tough road game in Blacksburg after a bye, but the Hokies are beatable.
  11. North Carolina State - Another team that gets to lick its wounds into a bye week. The Wolfpack needs it desperately to get their offense on track. Games against Clemson and Miami loom in the distance and losses in those could bury the season.
  12. Boston College - The Eagles are coming off a bye and two straight wins against Virginia and Army, with the exact same score of 27-24 and nearly the exact same amount of offensive yards of 372 and 386. Consistent aren’t they? They’ll need that to continue with a trip to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech.
  13. Wake Forest - Wake Forest needed a win to gain some momentum but was instead left with more questions after an ugly loss to Virginia Tech. The Deacons went to their backup QB to find answers but came up empty. They take on Pitt next who seemed to find an answer for their offense.
  14. Virginia - It’s been two straight weeks without Virginia losing a game! They beat William and Mary (barely) two weeks ago and got a bye last week. Progress my friends, progress. That progress is probably over now because North Carolina is no William and Mary.