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2017 ACC Rankings Week Three

Virginia Tech v East Carolina Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images


1. Clemson Tigers: Clemson QB, Kelly Bryant, had his best game of the season against the woeful Louisville secondary. He was 22/32, 316 yards, and had one TD. Clemson also laid it down on the ground with 297 yards rushing. Travis Etienne is a name that we will need to be aware of before the Tigers come to Blacksburg. Etienne only ran the ball six times, but had 98 yards and a TD. The Tigers defense held Louisville to a season low of 433 and kept Jackson away from WMD numbers. Lamar was 21/42 for 317 yards, three TDs, one INT, (despite some poor play from WRs) and had 17 carries for 64 yards on the ground. Still solid numbers but not the nuclear option that we have seen from Jackson in the past. Clemson’s defense did a great job caging the best offensive player in college football. The Tigers remain the ACC’s best hope for representation in the CFB Playoff and must handle Boston College next week before traveling to Blacksburg to face the best of the Coastal in Virginia Tech.

2. Florida State Seminoles: The game against Miami was postponed and FSU was inactive this week because of Hurricane Irma. Next week the ‘Noles face the Wolfpack.

3. Louisville Cardinals: You simply cannot expect to face a defense like Clemson’s and hope that a single player can carry the team. Lamar Jackson is probably the best player in College football, but he is still one person. He did everything possible to drag Louisville, kicking and screaming, to victory. It wasn’t enough. Some question whether Jackson deserved the Heisman last year. He did. Although Louisville lost to Clemson, there is no player in the FBS that is more valuable to their team. The Cardinals have a poor defense and an offense that is listless without Lamar. His presence on the squad exclusively allows Louisville to, not only be in the CFB Playoff discussion, but the top 25. Without Lamar Jackson the Cardinals are a 6-6 team, at best. After Clemson, Louisville should recover and establish a string of victories when they face Kent State and Murray State over the next two weeks. After that they must deal with NCSU and BC before their next real challenge, Florida State.

4. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Look, I get it, Utah State isn’t exactly a terrifying opponent, but Wake hung 46 points on them. The Demon Deacons suffered from a serious dearth of offensive output last season and in the first three games of the season they have blown out their opponents. Last year they had a dangerous defense that kept up with the best offenses in the FBS, and there is no reason to question that based on their performance during the first three games. This team is dangerous. They are certainly on the path for a bowl, but they could also be a major spoiler for some of the bigger ACC programs. Next week the Deacons face Appalachian State. I fully expect them to be 4-0 when they host Florida State. It is an outside chance, but the FSU vs WF game is not going to be a simple affair for the Seminoles. I would not be surprised if this squad finishes the season 7-5 or better.

5. N.C. State Wolfpack: The Wolfpack defeated the Furman Paladins. After losing to South Carolina and escaping Marshall I am simply not convinced the most experienced team in the ACC is that good. Next week they have a real test against the Seminoles. Then we can see what the ‘Pack is all about.

6. Syracuse Orange: Nice job bouncing back after the MTSU loss to defeat Central Michigan, 41-17. The Orange answered with a balanced attack in the air and ground. Even the defense got involved with a pick six! Syracuse knows they should be 3-0, but they aren’t. Next week the Orange face a LSU squad that was just decimated by Mississippi State, 37-7. For the first two games of the season the Tigers rode their preseason rank against BYU and the vanguard that is Chattanooga. Can Dungey, Babers, and the scrappy Orange upset LSU? Maybe… who could say? If they do it would help them immensely regarding their post season designs.

7. Boston College Eagles: Boston College is bad at football. They allowed the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to lay down 515 yards running. You read that right. QB Brandon Wimbush and RB Josh Adams both had over 200 yards rushing, and Wimbush had four rushing TDs. The Irish averaged 10.1 yards per carry against the Eagles and had over 600 yards offense against BC. Gonna go ahead and revisit the idea the Boston College has a good defense. So far, the Eagles have squeaked by NIU while losing convincingly to WF and ND. Next week Clemson will have a field day against the Eagles. The only team they MIGHT be favored against, for the remainder of the season, is Connecticut.


1. Virginia Tech Hokies: If the Hokies are going to have slow starts, but eventually accelerate to the speed they showed in the second and third quarter against East Carolina, then I will take those slow starts all season. Virginia Tech shattered program records and players shattered personal records during the 64-17 dismantling of the Pirates. Through the first three games of the season the Hokies have made their money in the second and third quarters. Against WVU they scored 21 of their 31 points and held WVU to 17. Against Delaware, well it was a shutout, so the defense held them to zero points while the offense scored 10 of their 27. Against East Carolina the Hokies held the Pirates to zero points while scoring a stupefying 50 points. Redshirt Freshmen QB Josh Jackson had his best game yet going 24/31, 372 yards, five TDs, and zero INTS. Jackson continues to show maturity in decision making and growth as a passer. He has thrown zero… ZERO… interceptions in the first three games of the season. That will eventually change, particularly as conference competition ramps up, but it is still a positive sign and uncharacteristic to see from such a young player. Cam Phillips eclipsed the program’s single game reception record with 14 catches, 189 yards, and three TDs. Joey Slye passed Hokie and NFL great Shayne Graham for the program record of FGs at 69. The Virginia Tech starters rarely saw the field after the middle of the third quarter, so these numbers were largely earned in the first 2.5 quarters. Not everything was sunshine and roses though. Though the Hokies were dominant overall the first quarter was disturbing. During 1Q the Hokies secondary again showed their penchant for allowing big pass plays. VT allowed multiple passes over 20 yards, including a 76-yard TD strike. VPI can recover from things like that against ECU, but will find a much harder time against conference opponents. The overwhelmingly positive indicator was a team that continued to show an ability to overcome adversity when the situation was not in their favor. There is no quit in the Hokies, and that intangible is invaluable. Next the Hokies face a potential trap game against the Old Dominion Monarchs. It’s the first meeting between the two in-state schools, and the Hokies cannot overlook a defense that currently leads the FBS in sacks before Clemson comes a calling.

2. Miami-Florida Hurricanes: Miami is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irma. If Miami had a greater body of work I’d probably put them above Louisville, but they’ve only played one game against an FCS squad so… The ‘Canes return to action next week against Toledo.

3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: The Jackets were originally scheduled to play against UCF, but because of Hurricane Irma the game was postponed. Next week GT hosts the beleaguered Panthers.

4. Duke Blue Devils: There are two, only two, squads in the Coastal that are 3-0. The Hokies are one and the Blue Devils are the other. Duke got off to something of a slow start when they hosted the Baylor Bears, but eventually they did their part to send the Bears along what is likely to be a completely defeated season, defeating them 34-20. This Duke squad might be the biggest surprise in the ACC. Blue Devils QB Daniel Jones was held to mortal numbers, but that simply shows that Duke can win even when their star player isn’t carrying the team to victory. Instead the Blue Devils relied on a potent rushing attack (51 runs, 246 yards, 5.1-yard average per carry, and three TDs) and their defense who had a pick six, to find victory on Saturday. Duke next faces their bitter in-state rivals, UNC. ESPN’s Matchup Predictor currently favors Duke 54.4% to win the game. Rivalry games are hard to predict. Regardless of previous performance (or lack thereof) rivals tend to find a determination that isn’t normally found in other matchups. I think it likely for Duke to have a challenging foe against UNC, but it would not be a surprise to me if they found themselves entering their week five matchup against Miami at 4-0.

5. Virginia Cavaliers: The offensive woes of last week seem almost comical in the face of the Hoos’ record breaking performance against the Connecticut Huskies this week. Virginia QB Kurt Benkert threw for a program record of 455 yards on the way to a dominate 38-18 win over CONN. If anyone was under the impression that last week’s loss to Indiana was some sort of indicator to the ability of the Cavaliers they were wrong. I am still fully convinced that the Hoosiers are a good team and that the UVA effort against them was valiant. The Cavalier offense that struggled against IU hung 626 offensive yards on CONN, and dominated time of possession 33:06 to 26:54. UVA generated three 100+ yard receivers, and laid 171 yards on the ground. The Cavaliers revealed an ability to dish out big plays, something that was sorely lacking in the first two games. The Hoos dropped TD passes of 30 yards, 42 yards, and 71 yards on the Huskies. That does not include the multiple 20+ yard plays UVA demonstrated elsewhere. Next week the Hoos face a Boise State Broncos team that they can beat.

6. North Carolina Tar Heels: It would not have surprised me if the Monarchs had upset the Tar Heels. UNC earned their first win of the season when they beat ODU, 53-23. It’s hard to get a feel for the Tar Heels. They only managed 17 yards rushing against Louisville, but managed 254 yards against the Monarchs. They demonstrated a balanced offensive attack against the California Golden Bears, but failed to win that game. Things should be clearer next week when UNC faces Duke. Life gets difficult once UNC enters ACC play. Games that used to be a gimmie are no longer such. Looking ahead it is easy to argue that only the matchups against Pitt and WCU are going to favor UNC. It might be early in the year, but the Duke game could have post season implications.

7. Pittsburgh Panthers: Remember last year when the Panthers had one of the worst secondary units in the FBS? Nothing has changed on that front. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph lit up Pitt going 23/32, 497 yards, and five TDs, with an average pass play of 15.5 yards. Let that sink in. If you break that down further OKST was averaging 22 yards per completion, which does mean a big play per completion. That is insane. The Panthers failed to earn their first FBS victory and the Cowboys put up ridiculous offensive numbers on their way to a 21-59 victory. Last year Pitt faced Oklahoma State and Rudolph put up 540 yards, but it was only a one score game (38-45). The difference this year is that the Panther’s offense is nothing compared to what it was before. Looking ahead Pitt will likely only be favored in one remaining game (Rice). I don’t think we will see Pittsburgh in the post season, and they could legitimately go completely defeated in the conference.


1. (No. 2 AP / No. 2 Coaches) Clemson Tigers (3-0) – Static

2. (No. 12 / No. 11) Florida State Seminoles (0-1) – Static

3. (No. 13 / No. 13) Virginia Tech Hokies (3-0) – Static

4. (No. 19 / No. 20) Louisville Cardinals (2-1) – Static

5. (No. 14 / No. 14) Miami-Florida Hurricanes (1-0) – Static

6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-1) – Static

7. Duke Blue Devils (3-0) – Static

8. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-0) – Up One

9. N.C. State Wolfpack (2-1) – Down One

10. Virginia Cavaliers (2-1) – Up Three

11. Syracuse Orange (2-1) – Up Three

12. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-2) – Static

13. Pittsburgh Panthers (1-2) – Down Three

14. Boston College Eagles (1-2) – Down Three


Do you agree with the week three rankings?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    (55 votes)
  • 2%
    No, no, no. These are absolutely terrible! Where’s your clever comparison for the "yes" response to the poll?
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    The top and bottom are pretty solid, but the middle needs to be shuffled a bit. You seem morose... is it because the Jaguars are bad again? (It is)
    (11 votes)
  • 32%
    (42 votes)
  • 15%
    (20 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now