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ACC Power Rankings: Week 10

The ACC hopes of several teams crumbled this week, but in their place new teams arise.

North Carolina v Georgia Tech Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

My first game at Bobby Dodd Stadium came in 2003, the second year under Chan Gailey. Reggie Ball was the freshman QB, PJ Daniels was our bruising running back, and Calvin Johnson was still being recruited as a senior out of Sandy Creek High School. It was a cool afternoon on November 15th, the opponent, North Carolina. The Yellow Jackets would win 42-24. My true fandom among the Georgia Tech faithful had been cemented that day.

This past Saturday Georgia Tech stunned UNC for a third straight year as a heavy favorite. There were plenty of good wins across the conference this week, but the talk across the college football world was the Tar Heels collapse in Atlanta. Ranked 17th and coming off a loss to Virginia, UNC was looking to avenge themselves for last week’s loss and their previous upset at the hands of the Yellow Jackets. Quarterback Drake Maye did his best throwing for 310 yards and 2 touchdowns but his defense did him no favors as they allowed Georgia Tech to post 22 points in the 4th quarter for a 46-42 final.

Former coach Paul Johnson was honored as an inductee to the College Hall of Fame and was in attendance for his first game back at Bobby Dodd Stadium since his retirement. Perhaps the best honor was his former recruit, Dontae Smith, rushing for 178 yards and a touchdown to lead the charge of 348 rushing total.

Georgia Tech has had a roller-coaster season, but a win on homecoming in a night game in Atlanta just hits differently. It’ll be up to the team to continue and put the positives together for a full game. Maybe this win is what they need to finish it out.

Alright, let’s get on with the other games in the conference this week. Starting with the noon kick of FSU at Wake Forest. There wasn’t a lot of drama in this one with FSU winning 41-16. Jordan Travis was stellar once again and had no problem slicing through the Demon Deacon defense. This game was over at the half and Wake only managed 210 yards on the day.

Lackluster offenses were the order of the day for other teams in some early routes. Syracuse, on a Thursday kick against Virginia Tech, was stifled by an improving Hokies defense and only gained 137 yards total. QB Kyle Drone threw a bomb for a 62-yard touchdown to Da’Quan Felton for the Hokies, and Bhayshul Tuten toted the rock 118 yards and an added touchdown.

Duke was shut out on the road to Louisville where the Cardinals came back strong after a disappointing loss to Pitt. Duke’s Riley Leonard hasn’t been the same since getting banged up against Clemson yet somehow was still the leading passer in the loss. Credit Jawhar Jordan for all the offense Louisville needed on 163 yards and two touchdowns.

Pitt decided to follow up its great win against Louisville with a complete dud against Notre Dame. The Irish are a quality team, but getting thumped 58-7 and coughing up 5 turnovers might have proven the previous win was a fluke.

Boston College barely escaped against a 1-7 UConn team with a final of 21-14. Where the Eagles managed good numbers against Georgia Tech last week, they fell off in the passing department and had to rely on Robichaux’s rushing attack to bail them out.

North Carolina State isn’t impressing anyone in the box score, but they are winning more times than not where it matters, and they did just that to Clemson this week with a 24-17 win. If you were to glance at the numbers Clemson would have appeared to win this one handily, but turnovers and failures to convert near the goal cost them again. NC State has made a living off their defense this year.

Lastly, we had Miami almost go into a full tailspin as it took overtime for them to beat Virginia 29-26. The Cavaliers have always given Miami fits down in Coral Gables and their offense had to rely on two very long field goals and a pick 6 to pull this one out.

Power Rankings

  1. Florida State - It’s safe to say the Seminoles will most likely remain in this spot unless they get upended in the conference title game. Their only two remaining conference foes are Pitt and Miami. Neither of those have shown they can hang with this team. Florida is always a test to end the season, but they just got rocked by Georgia. Florida State is on a good path to the playoffs.
  2. Louisville - Last week you could have argued between Duke and Louisville on who was better. Louisville left no doubt of that after crushing the Blue Devils at home. The Cardinals have three ACC games remaining. The Virginia schools and Miami. I could see them dropping one, but even then Louisville sits pretty secure for second in the standings.
  3. Miami - I sat here and waffled between several teams. Miami has put together two in a row against Clemson and Virginia and should be noted that QB Tyler Van Dyke was also banged up the last few. They barely eeked out the last two but their body of work will keep them here for now.
  4. Boston College - The Eagles have won four in a row and their two ACC losses are to FSU and Louisville. The remaining four are Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Pitt, and Miami. A 2-2 record feels very doable for Boston College. They’ve shown they can move the ball at times. If the defense can keep improving they could have a surprise record.
  5. Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets have losses that should bump them down from being ranked this high. It’s just that the wins they’ve had also weigh more than some others with similar records. If the spirit of Coastal Chaos has chosen to inhabit a team, Georgia Tech is its chosen vessel. The final stretch contains Virginia, Clemson, and Syracuse in the ACC play and then UGA per usual. Each of the three ACC games is completely winnable if the team that played UNC in the even quarters shows up. We just don’t know what is showing up on each drive anymore.
  6. Virginia Tech - Feasting on the bottom of the conference is one way to make your record better, but there is something to be said for beating who you’re supposed to beat. Things will get tougher against Louisville next, but if they can steal an upset there it could set up a true turnaround season.
  7. North Carolina - Two losses in a row and a once-promising season for the Tar Heels has turned sour. A playoff berth is off the table, but the conference title game isn’t quite done yet. They will need help to get there though. UNC gets a chance to reset against Campbell before closing out their regular season with a three-game run with two of their hated rivals, Duke and NC State.
  8. North Carolina State - It’s not the prettiest 5-3 record, but one win from bowl eligibility nonetheless. Beating Clemson even in a down year is always a cause for celebration. Miami could be a threat next week but the way things are going I’d take the under for points scored in this one.
  9. Duke - The Blue Devils are starting a late-season slide and their previous wins don’t feel that impressive anymore. The Clemson win to start the year felt big at the time but they can’t hold on to that anymore. Wake Forest is up next and they have their own troubles on the offensive side. A loss though would kill the early season momentum.
  10. Clemson - We are approaching Week 10 of the football season and the Clemson Tigers sit at a dead even 4-4 overall record. Not a pleasant sight if you count yourself among the Tiger faithful. Even worse is their 2-4 ACC record. If Louisville wins one game more then Clemson is dead in the water for a title appearance after all the hype. Let’s be honest, they are dead already. Two conference games remain with Georgia Tech and UNC. Those games are sandwiched between Notre Dame and South Carolina. Good luck!
  11. Virginia - They don’t have the best record of the remaining teams but they have looked the most competent over the last few weeks. A win over UNC and then a well-fought but tough loss to Miami on the road. They get Georgia Tech at home next, and if Georgia Tech keeps up their alternating wins...
  12. Wake Forest - The 3-0 start was a smokescreen against really bad out-of-conference opponents. The Demon Deacons would drop the next three before beating Pitt and then getting slapped by FSU. There is nothing of substance here and the offense isn’t showing any signs of progress.
  13. Pittsburgh - Losing to the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish isn’t anything to be ashamed about. Losing to them 58-7 with 5 turnovers is a different story. After a great win over Louisville, you have to wonder if Pitt has anything left in the tank to steal another. FSU certainly isn’t it next week.
  14. Syracuse - Despite being 4-4 overall, Syracuse hasn’t won a game since Kevin McCarthey was Speaker of the House. They are 0-4 in ACC play and haven’t even been close in those matchups. Boston College and Georgia Tech are the two toughest remaining, but both of those feel too much for an offense that hasn’t had any life.