1. Florida State Seminoles: I mean… they beat an FCS team that had just suspended 14 of their players, 52-8. That is the bare minimum they should achieve. FSU laid 28 points down in the first quarter and then slowed it down for the remainder of the game. The Seminoles will get a big test next week against my No. 2 ACC team…
2. Louisville Cardinals: What are these guys doing here?! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the Cardinals are not only my No. 2 team in the Atlantic, but in the ACC as a whole! Louisville faced their first FBS and conference opponent when they traveled to Syracuse to face Dino Babers and the Orange. Lamar Jackson decided that records were for chumps and racked up 610 yards… SIX HUNDRED TEN… that is an all-time ACC record for player yards. Jackson went 20 – 39, 411 yards, and threw one TD and one INT. He added 199 yards on 21 rushing attempts and four TDs. He had a long run for 72 yards and a long pass for 72 yards. That is agreeable symmetry, I feel. The Cardinals defeated the Orange soundly, 62-28. FSU and LOU meet this weekend, in a game that will have – in my opinion – serious implications on the post season. In a very odd twist… the only top ten teams meeting on Saturday somehow rated a noon kickoff… what the hell? Anyway… calling it now… Louisville will beat FSU.
3. Clemson Tigers: Florida State and Louisville are simply playing too well for Clemson to hang out above either of them. Not a great week for ol’ Clemson. They squeaked by Troy, 30-24, and then Dabo’s really, really, really awkward interview concerning his opinion of Kaepernick’s protest venue. Clemson is certainly a power, and will be a post season player, but right now they need to get back on pace – and they definitely need to focus. They should have a chance to do just that with a game against cupcake, South Carolina State.
4. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Wow! Their victory over Duke kind of throws an air of mystery around both teams. Is Duke bad, or is Wake good… or is it something in the middle? Probably something in the middle. Regardless, with the 24-14 victory the Demon Deacons are showing, even more than I initially suspected, that they will be part the bowl season. They next face the Delaware Blue Hens. Expect WF to be 3-0.
5. Boston College Eagles: They beat UMASS, 26-7. Cool. The Hokies will face BC, their elite defense, and the former VT offensive coordinator, Scot Loeffler, on Saturday. We better cut the turnovers or we might be embarrassed. BC isn’t a powerhouse, but they are dangerous, have traditionally played the Hokies with vigor, and VPI is currently demonstrably sloppy. The Eagles were dead last in the Atlantic during last week’s ACC rankings, but I also expect them to be in bowl game contention this year. These boys better not sleep on Wake…
6. Syracuse Orange: Lamar Jackson is a weapon of mass destruction, and Syracuse is simply not equipped to deal with players like him, or their schedule. The next two games the Orange have are against the South Florida Bulls and the Connecticut Huskies. Those two matchups should be more competitive for Syracuse and give us a better feel for how the team is developing.
7. N.C. State Wolfpack: I was unimpressed with the Wolfpack last year. I am unimpressed with the Wolfpack this year, and they lost their best player to the NFL draft. This year I have an early loss to drop them down to last place in the Atlantic. N.C. State lost to Eastern Carolina, 33-30. N.C. State will not make a bowl game this year. They will play ODU this weekend and then I expect them to have their hands full with Wake Forest the week after. They then run the gamut of the best teams in the ACC… six of their last eight games are against Notre Dame (almost an ACC team), Clemson, Louisville, FSU, Miami, and UNC. NCSU will go 5-7 at best, and will fight Syracuse for the bottom of the Atlantic.
1. North Carolina Tar Heels: The Tar Heels beat up on the Fighting Illini, 48-23. Just like last year, the Coastal is a mess, and it is difficult to point at any one team and proclaim them the favorite to win the division. The only thing we can depend on, really, is that UVA is terrible.
2. Miami-Florida Hurricanes: The Hurricanes beat up on another over matched J.V. Florida team when they capsized FAU, 38-10. They next face an Appalachian State team that gave Tennessee fits, and dominated ODU. Miami can’t overlook App St, but I don’t expect them to be troubled by the Mountaineers.
3. Pittsburgh Panthers: Other than the Battle at Bristol, the Panthers’ match up with the Nittany Lions was the only ACC Coastal match up of note. Not that Penn State is the powerhouse it used to be, but defeating one of the historically storied teams of CFB, 42-39, and a power five conference opponent is a solid victory for the Panthers. Not only did Pitt show up and get up 28-7, at one point, they demonstrated their temerity when Penn State tried to comeback. While I think there are five teams capable of winning the Coastal. It is a long season, and things can rapidly change in college football, but right now UNC, Miami-Florida, and Pitt are playing better than anyone in the Coastal.
4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Alright, last season GT won their first two games and then lost nine of their next ten… I don’t think that will be the case this year – especially since the Yellow Jackets next play Vandy. But, on Thursday night, 22 September, we will see what Georgia Tech and Clemson are made of when the two schools face off.
5. Virginia Tech Hokies: Oh Hokies… what can we say? You showed what you are capable of when you dominated the first quarter of the Battle at Bristol, on all sides of the ball! But… I would like to quote myself from last week’s rankings, "Things the Hokies cannot do… have four turnovers, or expect the defense to bail them out of every mistake against conference and SEC opponents." That reality certainly came to bear last Saturday night when the Hokies jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, before losing the game, 24-45. It’s still hard to get a grasp of the Virginia Tech team. Tenn didn’t really generate their own opportunities. The Hokies had multiple fumbles in their own territory. I think the Fighting Gobblers have a lot to work on, and I fully believe that week two VT will look night and day to week ten VT. Nobody will want to play week ten VT.
6. Duke Blue Devils: Ouch… as I wrote above… is Duke bad or is WF good? Duke does not have the schedule to be dropping games to Wake Forest. Losing Sirk to injury is an issue for Duke that wasn’t apparent in week one. The Blue Devils next play 0-2 Northwestern. With matchups against Notre Dame, Louisville, UNC, Pitt, and Miami in their future, if they want to be part of the bowl game discussion they need to win this one against the Wildcats.
7. Virginia Cavaliers: The Hoos were dealt with by the Richmond Spiders, an FCS squad. How do you think they performed against No. 24 Oregon? Yeah… they lost, 44-26. The University of Virginia remains the only completely defeated team in the ACC. The Cavaliers next face UCONN… I mean… they should win. The Huskies barely beat Maine, but only lost to Navy (GO NAVY!) by four points… This game is anyone’s guess. Based on UVA’s first two weeks’ performance there is no game, all season, that I can say is a sure win anymore… not sure if you saw… Central Michigan beat No. 22 OKST (controversial or not… when opportunity meets preparation… and all that). UCONN was in the fight against Navy the whole time… the two teams I said last week that could be considered sure wins for UVA simply aren’t anymore. As of this writing the ESPN Football Power Index gives UCONN a 56.3% chance to beat the Hoos and CMU a 71% chance to defeat UVA. At this point it is difficult to point at their schedule and identify a game they can win.
1. (No.2 – AP / No. 2 Coaches) Florida State Seminoles (2-0)
2. (No. 10 / No.10) Louisville Cardinals (2-0)
3. (No. 5 / No. 3) Clemson Tigers (2-0)
4. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-1)
5. (No. 25 / No. 25) Miami-Florida Hurricanes (2-0)
6. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-0)
7. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-0)
8. Virginia Tech Hokies (1-1)
9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-0)
10. Boston College Eagles (1-1)
11. Duke Blue Devils (1-1)
12. Syracuse Orange (1-1)
13. N.C. State Wolfpack (1-1)
14. Virginia Cavaliers (0-2)