1. Clemson Tigers: QB Kelly Bryant sprained his ankle during the third quarter of the Tigers’ 28-14 win over Wake Forest. Bryant has been developing nicely. His status for next week’s game is yet to be determined. Bryant’s absence would not be optimal, but Clemson can rely on their defense and ground attack against Syracuse next week before having to face a chippy GT team on the 28th. Regardless of injuries Clemson remains on a completely different level than the rest of the ACC.
2. N.C. State Wolfpack: Is the ‘Pack good or is Louisville bad? I think it is probably a mixture of both. Ryan Finley and the NCST offense seem to be hitting their stride and the defense did enough to contain Lamar Jackson. Besides Clemson, N.C. State remains the only squad that can realistically compete for the Atlantic. The Wolfpack faces a toothless Pittsburgh team before facing a strident No. 16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish team in South Bend.
3. Louisville Cardinals: Lamar Jackson is Louisville. Between offensive injuries and poor defensive play Jackson has little help. The defense surrendered 520 total yards and allowed Finley and the Wolfpack offense to average 11.5 yards per pass. If Jackson wasn’t on this team the Cardinals likely wouldn’t be in bowl contention.
4. Florida State Seminoles: The Seminoles fall to 1-3 for the first time since 1976. The offensive line allowed four sacks and nine total tackles for a loss. FSU’s defense is good enough to keep them competitive, but not when they collapse like they did in the last two minutes of the game. FSU’s hopes for the season are tied almost exclusively to the performance of the Seminole defense. Next week’s match against Duke provides an opportunity for the ‘Noles to right the ship. If they fail to capitalize it could be a very long and disappointing year.
5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: A valiant effort by the Demon Deacons saw them play a clean and disciplined game. WF committed only four penalties for 25 yards and provided zero turnovers. The defense kept the game within reach for most of regulation, but the offense was unable to strike until the fourth quarter. By then it was too late. Over the last two weeks Wake has played admirably against FSU and Clemson. WF gets a week off, but will next face the Yellow Jackets.
6. Syracuse Orange: With a win over the struggling Panthers the Orange finished the “easy” portion of their schedule. Games against WF and BC are potentially winnable and there is an outside chance that Syracuse could surprise the struggling Cardinals and Seminoles, but first they must run the gauntlet of Clemson and Miami.
7. Boston College Eagles: BC continued its march to mediocrity with a loss to a flat looking Virginia Tech team. The Eagles offense surrendered no turnovers, but struggled to maintain drives and capitalize on opportunities. The Eagles defense was the star of the show, sacking VT’s QB five times and forcing nine total tackles for a loss. Regardless of any demonstrated defensive prowess until the offense can start converting third downs this team will struggle to win. Perhaps a surprise victory against the reeling Cardinals can light a spark in this BC squad.
1. Miami-Florida Hurricanes: It’s no secret that Florida State is struggling, but breaking the Seminoles winning streak over the Hurricanes is a victory Miami can rally around. The ‘Canes have played well since their 21-day hiatus due to real world hurricane effects. Next Miami faces a dangerous GT team.
2. Virginia Tech Hokies: The Hokies recovered from their loss to the Tigers with a win over Boston College, 23-10. Cam Phillips sprained his right foot and left the game early, but only after he caught a pass preserving his program record streak for consecutive games with a reception. With Cam out of the game it was necessary for other WRs to step up. Sean Savoy made himself known with nine receptions, 139 yards and a TD catch. Sophomore Eric Kumah was a factor, hauling in four passes for 53 yards. Josh Jackson had another 300+ yard game, but the Hokies largely looked flat on offense. They struggled on third down (8-20, 40%) and the team committed nine penalties. VPI has an off weekend before hosting the beleaguered Tar Heels.
3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: The Jackets were off… again… I hesitate to call Tennessee a “good” team, but compared to the rest of their opponents the Vols have thus far been the most challenging opponent for GT. That is about to change during their first Coastal division matchup. The Yellow Jackets find themselves in Coral Gables to face the Hurricanes in a matchup that will help determine who is truly the power in the Coastal.
4. Virginia Cavaliers: Huh… well that’s just great. I’ll sum up my thoughts on the Hoos by sharing my very own Tweet. How meta…
Anyway, the Cavaliers opened conference play with a close win over a solid Duke team. After putting a passing clinic on for Boise State and Connecticut the Blue Devil’s defense checked Benkert and UVA passing attack. Regardless, the Hoos managed and improved to 4-1 for the first time since 2007. With the implosion of UNC and Pitt, it is very possible that Virginia starts the season 7-1. It looks like Bronco has the Cavaliers heading in the right direction.
5. Duke Blue Devils: Great effort by the Blue Devils, but Benkert’s three TDs were too much for them to overcome. This Duke squad is solid, and if FSU isn’t careful they could fall to the Blue Devils.
6. Pittsburgh Panthers: Eric Dungey and the Orange offense lit up the Panthers’ defense to the tune of 500 yards. 365 of that came in the air. The Pitt offense found some rhythm in the fourth, and brought the score to within three points with seven minutes left. In response the Orange put together the longest drive of the game, taking 6:23 seconds off the clock. Pitt’s defense held them scoreless, but with less than a minute to work with the Panthers were unable to respond and lost, 24-27. Pitt might be able to find some wins against Duke, UVA, or UNC, but realistically the UNC game will be the only match they might be favored in. Next week they host the Wolfpack.
7. North Carolina Tar Heels: UNC’s freefall continued when Notre Dame socked the Heels in the mouth and earned a 10-33 win. North Carolina has the worst record in the ACC. Although not mathematically eliminated from bowl contention there aren’t five wins left on the schedule. UNC is firmly entrenched as the worst team in the conference, and things don’t seem to be getting any better.
1. (No. 2 AP / No. 2 Coaches) Clemson Tigers (6-0, 4-0 ACC) – Static
2. (No. 11 / No. 10) Miami-Florida Hurricanes (4-0, 2-0 ACC) – Up Two
3. (No. 15 / No. 17) Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1, 1-1 ACC) – Static
4. (No. 20 / No. 20) N.C. State Wolfpack (5-1, 3-0 ACC) – Up One
5. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-1, 2-2 ACC) – Up One
6. Louisville Cardinals (4-2, 1-2 ACC) – Down Four
7. Virginia Cavaliers (4-1, 1-0 ACC) – Up Three
8. Florida State Seminoles (1-3, 1-2ACC) – Down One
9. Duke Blue Devils (4-2, 1-2 ACC) – Static
10. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-2, 1-2 ACC) – Down Two
11. Syracuse Orange (3-3, 1-1 ACC) – Static
12. Boston College (2-4, 0-3 ACC) – Static
13. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-4, 0-2 ACC) – Static
14. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-5, 0-3 ACC) – Static