1. Clemson Tigers: I thought that Syracuse was going to be much more of a challenge for the Tigers, but clearly I was wrong. Clemson shut out the normally potent Orange offense, and won easily, 54-0. There was a scary moment when, Deshaun Watson, was injured and sent into the locker room early. Luckily it seems he simply bruised his shoulder and will be fine. Next up, the Tigers face the Panthers whose defense has given up at least 30 points against every Power Five foe.
2. Louisville Cardinals: The Cardinals decimated Boston College, 52-7. Lamar Jackson had his third (THIRD!) seven touchdown game of the season. The Cardinals are poised to finish the season 11-1, but their post season hopes still firmly rest on the performance of external entities. Next weekend the Cards will host Wake Forest.
3. Florida State Seminoles: FSU decided to scare their fan base by needing all four quarters to defeat NCST a week after almost defeating the reigning ACC Champions. The Seminoles held on and defeated the Wolfpack, 24-20. With the win Florida State qualifies for a bowl berth. FSU next faces Boston College.
4. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Wake recovered from an embarrassing loss to Army last week, and defeated UVA, 27-20. The Demon Deacons are now 6-3, and have qualified for a bowl for the first time since 2011. WF has back to back games against Louisville and Clemson in the following weeks. It is unlikely that WF will earn a seventh win until the season ending game against Boston College.
5. Syracuse Orange: Well... that was a bit painful. Not only did the Orange offense get shut out, Clemson held them to 277 total yards. To put that in perspective, Virginia Tech allowed over twice as many yards (561) during their loss to the Orange. At 4-5 Syracuse is still alive and well in the hunt for a bowl. They do have to face FSU in two weeks, but that game is sandwiched between winnable matches against NCST and PITT.
6. Boston College Eagles: I almost put the Eagles at the bottom of the Atlantic, but the Eagles have the heads up win over NCST. Although BC suffered as Louisville’s most recent victim and face FSU next weekend, they may still qualify for a bowl. BC has rolled Connecticut and Wake Forest to finish the season. If the Eagles collect CONN, their match against WF will be the most important game of their season.
7. N.C. State Wolfpack: After starting 4-1 the Wolfpack dropped four straight. Granted, three of those four games were against Clemson, Louisville, and Florida State, and they were only blown out by Louisville… But, they also lost to the struggling BC Eagles. NCST will try and keep their bowl hopes alive against Syracuse next week. If the Wolfpack fail against the Orange their post season appearance chances will be near zero, with closing games against Miami and UNC.
1. Virginia Tech Hokies: The Hokies had a hard-fought match with Duke, and it was close, but VPI pulled it off to take the victory, 24-21. The highlight of the game was from special teams. Greg Stroman blocked a Duke field goal attempt and Adonis Alexander scooped and scored. The Hokies had not scored on a blocked field goal since 2005. The last two games have been away games, and closer than they should have been. The Hokies seem to have an established trend of being susceptible to deep passes, on defense, and trouble in the red zone, on offense. While those are certainly deficiencies that the Hokies will need to work on, VT is 7-2. That is their best start to a season since 2011. The Hokies return to Lane Stadium, and face the Yellow Jackets Saturday afternoon. Last year the Hokies were barely able to overcome GT, 23-21. This year they will start without, Terrell Edmunds, who is suspended for the first half due to a targeting penalty against Duke. Additionally, the Hokies may be without, Greg Stroman, who sprained his ankle. There are no easy games left for Virginia Tech, to include the matchups against Notre Dame and UVA.
2. North Carolina Tar Heels: The Heels offense was clicking, in the air and on the ground. Trubisky threw for 329 yards and Hood added 168 yards on the ground. UNC earned an astounding 636 total yards against GT. UNC next faces a dangerous Duke team that has given every ranked opponent they have faced a tough fight.
3. Miami-Florida Hurricanes: After a four-game losing streak, punctuated by a very disappointing loss to Notre Dame, Miami returned to winning ways with complete domination of the Panthers. Pittsburgh gave up their highest points total of the season, and the Hurricanes streaked to victory, 51-28. Every team left on Miami’s schedule is struggling and currently retains a losing record. Next week the ‘Canes travel to Charlottesville and hope to be the second consecutive team to use them for bowl qualification.
4. Pittsburgh Panthers: The woes on the Panther defense continue to cost them games. Every power five conference team has put over 30 points on them. It might not seem necessary, but PITT should be concerned about their bowl eligibility. At 5-4 they only need a single win to qualify. Next week they face Clemson, which they will lose. After that they face Duke and Syracuse. Both of those teams are better than their records indicate, and a lot of that is because of offense. Every team left on the Panther schedule has a strength that lines up with their weakness in passing defense.
5. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: It looked like GT was going to give UNC a run for their money, for the first half. After halftime, the Heels came out and dominated. They allowed only three points in the second half, and ultimately won big, 48-20. The Yellow Jackets next face the Hokies in Blacksburg where they will hope to exploit the problems VT has with running QBs.
6. Virginia Cavaliers: A pick-6 directly resulted in the Cavaliers losing this game in the last half of the fourth quarter. Jessie Bates snagged the ball and ran 39 yards for the score. After the kick WF was up, 27-20, where the score remained. The game against Virginia concerns me more than any other remaining match on the Hokie’s schedule. The Hoos have been competitive throughout the course of their four-game losing streak. UVA will face their fifth consecutive team, with a winning record, this Saturday when they host Miami. UVA is out of bowl consideration, but they seem to be making every effort to be a spoiler.
7. Duke Blue Devils: The Blue Devils looks a lot like UVA did last year. They have almost won a lot of games, but they end up coming up just a little short. Nobody in the ACC has suffered more injuries, in significant areas, than the Blue Devils. They have quite the gauntlet ahead of them, and while they are still alive for a bowl, such a result seems unrealistic.
Overall Rankings – Week Ten
1. (No. 3 AP / No. 2 Coaches) Clemson Tigers (9-0)
2. (No. 5 / No. 6) Louisville Cardinals (8-1)
3. (No. 18 / No. 22) Virginia Tech Hokies (7-2)
4. (No. 15 / No. 13) North Carolina Tar Heels (7-2)
5. (No. 20 / No. 18) Florida State Seminoles (6-3)
6. Miami-Florida Hurricanes (5-4)
7. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-3)
8. Pittsburgh Panthers (5-4)
9. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-4)
10. Syracuse Orange (4-5)
11. Virginia Cavaliers (2-7)
12. Duke Blue Devils (3-6)
13. Boston College Eagles (4-5)
14. N.C. State Wolfpack (4-5)