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ACC Power Rankings: Week 9

The ACC has a lead dog and a muddled mess. All is right within the conference.

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

Who had fun this week watching ACC football? Well, the games that didn’t involve Georgia Tech losing to Boston College at home by 15 despite being favored. Yes, the opening game of the week was a major disappointment for Tech fans as a bowl berth now feels almost out of reach.

Boston College who had struggle against the pass this year held the Jackets to 204 yards through the air and forced Haynes King into three interceptions. Georgia Tech keyed into stop Castellanos from rushing out of the pocket, but their endeavors failed as he managed 128 yards on the ground and 255 through the air and two rushing touchdowns. Castellanos wasn’t the lead rusher, that honor belonged to backup running back Kye Robichaux who totaled 165 yards and two touchdowns.

Pitt and Wake Forest played a snoozer until the final minutes of the game where they combined for three touchdowns. Pitt appeared to have the game sealed when QB Veilleux slid early on third down and was ruled short of the line to gain. Wake would receive the ball with 40 seconds left just shy of midfield. Third string QB Santino Marucci would find his TE Hite across the middle for a 15-yard touchdown pass and leave Pitt with only 7 seconds and an eventual loss.

Our friends in Chapel Hill had an easy layup with Virginia visiting with only a single win to their name. If there is one team in this conference who can blow an amazing season at the worst possible time it is North Carolina or maybe Virginia finally found an identity to their offense. The Cavaliers stayed even all through the game with UNC and they did so with a strong running game that totaled 228 yards. QB Drake Maye had an ok night but went 50% on his completions and threw one pick to end any hopes in the waning minutes.

Clemson and Miami met up in Coral Gables for the “Disappointment Bowl” where neither team has been happy with course of their season. Each had a chance to get back on track, but it would be Miami who escaped in second overtime. Miami leaned on backup QB Emory Williams who led a great 4th quarter effort to get Miami even with Clemson. Clemson was able to move the ball effectively in regulation, but turnovers cost them a chance to put the game away. Miami sealed the win at the goal line when Cade Klubnik tried to roll out right on 4th down but was strung out to the sideline.

The last matchup of night saw Duke travel to Tallahassee to try and unseat FSU for the sole claim of top dog in the ACC. Duke failed to generate hardly any offense all night but still hung close with FSU and even led going into halftime 20-17. QB Riley Leonard would be lost to another leg injury in the third and FSU would capitalize by scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth.

Power Rankings

  1. Florida State - The Seminoles have been sitting pretty at the top since beating LSU in week one. Duke and UNC were the only other teams without conference losses, but both went down this weekend. At 5-0 FSU only need to win two of three from the remainder of Wake Forest, Pitt and Miami. I’d say FSU fans can start planning their trip to Charlotte.
  2. Louisville - Sometimes sitting idle has the best results. Louisville had a week off to refocus after a confounding loss to Pittsburgh. They’ll take on Duke next week who may be without Riley Leonard once more. A win there would set them up nicely to finish out the season.
  3. Duke - If Riley Leonard can get back on field the Blue Devils should be just fine. Even if they do miss him for a game or two the defense has performed well enough to keep games manageable. Louisville and North Carolina are the two remaining that feel like the biggest obstacles.
  4. North Carolina - A loss to Virginia for a team with outside playoff aspirations was a tough blow. The defense has been better, but still felt vulnerable and Virginia was finally able to expose some holes. A struggling Georgia Tech offense who started out hot is a true wildcard for UNC. They’ve lost the last two against the Jackets and are 2-10 in Atlanta dating back to the 90s.
  5. Miami - The Hurricanes were on the verge of their season falling off the cliff. They avoided an 0-3 start in the ACC to improve 1-2 after taking down Clemson. Miami should get Tyler Van Dyke back to take on Virginia. It feels that Miami should win that one based on talent, but that didn’t stop UNC from losing to them.
  6. Clemson - It truly doesn’t feel like Clemson should make it this high, but the rest of the conference is an inconsistent mess. Clemson can certainly move the ball they just can’t punch it into the endzone when it matters most. NC State is coming off a bye but has been even worse at scoring. The Tiger will want to take advantage of that game before meeting Notre Dame.
  7. Virginia Tech - The Hokies are steadily getting better after a rough start to the season. They got a bye to get rested before taking on a manageable ACC slate to finish out. Virginia Tech has a good chance to turn this into a respectable season and that will start with Syracuse.
  8. Boston College - Head Coach Jeff Hafley looked to be on the hot seat after a 1-3 start to the season. The Eagles now sit at 4-3 after three straight wins behind Thomas Castellanos’s rushing ability out of the pocket. Boston College is very capable of winning 4 of their final 5 and could even push Miami. Credit the Eagles for turning it around after a dismal start.
  9. Syracuse - Syracuse took a three-game skid into the bye week, but they did have a tough slate of Clemson, UNC, and FSU. With the meat of the schedule out of the way there are wins to be had, but the offense is going to have to find more options besides the QB if they want to win enough to make a bowl.
  10. Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets continue to play poorly at home, and the offense has been rather bad since the Bowling Green loss. It’s going to take Georgia Tech refocusing and upsetting the likes of UNC, Clemson, or UGA to make a bowl. Not dropping winnable games to Virginia and Syracuse will also be crucial.
  11. North Carolina State - Despite their 4-3 record the Wolfpack have had an abysmal offense and still have some of the better teams yet to play. Wake Forest seems like the best bet to win in a couple of weeks, but Clemson, Miami, and UNC will probably put a damper on their season.
  12. Wake Forest - It was a needed win over Pitt after losing three in a row. Wake fell off last season after a hot start and it could happen again with FSU and Duke due up. NC State and Syracuse appear to be the best chance to make a bowl with Notre Dame as their other remaining foe.
  13. Virginia - When looking for wins remaining on the schedule, UNC was probably not the first pick. Credit the Cavs for winning their first over a Top-10 on the road. A bowl game is probably too far gone at this point, but if they maintain the rushing attack, they could steal a couple more.
  14. Pittsburgh - After a big upset over Louisville the Pitt Panthers follow it up with a dreadful loss to Wake Forest. Three of their final five are against ranked opponents. Pat Narduzzi could have some restless fans soon if his patented defense continues to look like swiss cheese.