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2017 ACC Rankings Week Four

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Old Dominion v Virginia Tech Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Atlantic

1. Clemson Tigers: It was close for three quarters, but all Clemson needed was the fourth quarter to put the struggling Eagles away, 34-7. The Tigers were relatively quiet offensively, but they did produce two 100+ yard runners who both scored two TDs. Travis Etienne, who I have mentioned before, earned 113 yards on only nine rushes with a long of 50 yards. The Clemson ground attack is developing into a power to be reckoned with. They were held below 100 yards against the Auburn Tigers, but against BC ran for 342, 297 against Louisville, and 353 yards against Kent State. Even with the departure of their offensive superstars, their elite defense and rushing attack allow the Tigers to dictate the tempo of any game they lead. Next week Clemson faces Virginia Tech in a rematch of last year’s ACC championship game, and what could easily be a preview of the ACC championship game this year.

2. Louisville Cardinals: Kent State was just what the doctor ordered to recover from the loss to Clemson last week. Lamar Jackson produced mere mortal numbers “only” going 18/22 for 299 yards, running for 34 yards, but threw for two TDs and ran for two more. Louisville gets another cupcake next week, Murray State, before facing whatever version of NCST decides to show up.

3. N.C. State Wolfpack: Well… I still have no idea of what to think about this team. The loss to the Gamecocks looks even worse after this week where South Carolina barely escaped Louisiana Tech. The ‘Pack did beat FSU, but it isn’t like this FSU team has had a distraction free start to their season. Would NCST have been able to take a Seminoles squad that wasn’t idle for the last 21 days? NCST has made it past one of the three big challenges on their schedule, and remain very much alive in the hunt for the Atlantic. Next week they host a chippy Syracuse squad.

4. Florida State Seminoles: The Seminoles have faced a brutal start to the season. After losing starting QB Deondre Francois Hurricane Irma devastated the state of Florida. Not only does that present its own off-field issues, it also completely disrupted any semblance of an early season for the team. While most programs are finishing the first third of their season the Seminoles have just played their second game. The last time Florida State played football was September 2. Three weeks ago! They missed out on their only warm up game (against ULM) before starting conference play. They have had no chance to develop freshmen James Blackmon or get the team in any semblance of rhythm. After the loss to NCST the Seminoles fall to 0-2 for the first time since 1989… George Bush was still president, you guys. Hopefully things can start returning to normal for them, but challenging for the Atlantic might be out of reach already.

5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: WF decided to make it a close one, but eventually overcame Appalachian State, 20-19. The Demon Deacons improve to 4-0 for the first time since… well, since last year. Anyway, a brutal stretch of conference play kicks off next week with Florida State. As mentioned before, it is hard to tell what kind of team the Seminoles are. If Wake’s defense can hold FSU and now competent offense can find some purchase, it is possible that the Demon Deacons win. After next week things get even worse when the travel to Clemson, then Georgia Tech, and then host Louisville. Yikes. If WF can escape that stretch 1-3 it should be considered a win.

6. Syracuse Orange: Dino and company made some solid offensive adjustments and fought valiantly in the second quarter. The Syracuse defense hurried and hit LSU QB Danny Etling, but he escaped for two back breaking scoring plays of 43 yards and 87 yards. Unfortunately, Syracuse was unable to make up for their first half performance. The LSU Tigers held and ‘Cuse left with their second loss of the year, 26-35. Syracuse has an interesting match next week when they kick off conference play against NCST.

7. Boston College Eagles: Man, did it ever look like BC had maybe turned a corner, for three quarters. Then the fourth quarter happened and Clemson ripped off four TDs. BC scored only when they started on the Clemson 37, but were generally stymied by the Tigers’ defense. The Eagle’s anemic offense was held to 238 total yards (141 passing and 97 rushing). Next week the Eagles might be able to right the ship against Central Michigan.

Coastal

1. Virginia Tech Hokies: Hey! Look at that! Another shutout! The Hokies started slow again. As was pointed out last week the second and third quarters for VT are a source of strength. Nothing was different against ODU with the Hokies scoring 28 of their 38 total points during those periods. Steven Peoples had himself a day! He ran for 62 yards and a TD and caught three passes for 73 yards and two TDs. Cam Phillips continues to be dominate. He caught seven for 106 yards, and set the program record for most consecutive games (31) with a reception. Jackson did Josh Jackson things going 20/30 for 298 yards and three TDs. Unfortunately, he did toss his first interception of the season. The Hokies offense spent the first half showing nothing flashy. Instead, VT depended on a defense that never let the Monarchs get closer than the Hokie 49-yard line. The second half was a little more exciting with a few deep throws, but largely mirrored the first half’s plan. Even though the offense was slow to start and wasn’t particularly exciting it was balanced. Jackson and A.J. Bush spread the ball around to ten different receivers for 311 yards, and seven players combined for 271 yards on the ground (582 total yards). The Fighting Gobblers had an impressive 9.7 yards per pass and 4.8 yards per rush. The Old Dominion Monarchs were held to a measly 149 yards and VT dominated time of possession with 38:15. Next week the Virginia Tech Hokies will meet the Clemson Tigers in a rematch of the 2016 ACC championship. The Clemson offense is not as ostentatious and quick strike as it was when Watson was under center, but they have developed well and are an incredibly efficient team. The Hokies have certainly developed as well. Josh Jackson and Cam Phillips have truly stepped up and performed above already lofty expectations. The rushing offense seemed a bit tenuous at the start of the season, but has developed nicely behind the punishing power running of Peoples and Travon McMillian. The defense has been stifling. They have pitched shutouts in 11 of the last 12 quarters of play. Even though West Virginia racked up 592 yards the Hokies held them to only 24 points. Both the Hokies and the Tigers will face their greatest test of the season when Clemson travels to Blacksburg on Saturday Night. Night games at Lane are simply magical.

2. Miami-Florida Hurricanes: Miami also suffered from the same tribulations that faced Florida State. They certainly started slowly against Toledo, but dominated the second half and ultimately won, 52-30. The ‘Canes presented a balanced offensive attack. Junior QB Malik Rosier passed for 333 yards and three TDs. Meanwhile, Mark Walton blasted the Rockets for 204 yards and a TD from only 11 carries. That’s a stupefying 18.5 yards per run for Walton. The Hurricanes must be licking their chops looking at the FSU game in two weeks, but cannot overlook an away match against a 4-0 Duke squad.

3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Last week Georgia Tech was idle due to their game against UCF being canceled. Guess what? GT can run the ball. For the second time in three games they passed 400 yards on the ground, and for the third time they passed 200 yards rushing. The Yellow Jackets’ defense also came to play, holding Pitt to 235 total yards. Pitt was held to 37 yards rushing, on 20 attempts, for an abysmal 1.9 yards per run. Not all was sunshine for GT though. The team caught a serious case of fumblitis, putting the ball on the ground four times. Pitt’s ineptitude resulted in no points off turnovers, but GT simply cannot turn the ball over like that against more capable teams. Next up the Yellow Jackets face the troubled Tar Heels.

4. Duke Blue Devils: Rivalry games are tough, and for a while it looked like UNC might pull it off, a big fourth quarter, including a pick six, allowed Duke to start the season 4-0. The Blue Devil’s are on a short week, facing the Hurricanes on Friday night. Duke has been pretty dominating in three of their four wins, and showed some temerity coming from behind to win in Chapel Hill. The game Friday night will be the hardest matchup, thus far, for both squads.

5. Virginia Cavaliers: Woof… the UVA offense looked sharp on Friday night. The Cavaliers scored on four plays of 27 yards or greater, the longest being a 64-yard pass from Kurt Benkert. Not to be outdone, Olamide Zaccheaus ripped off a 56-yard TD run. Three of UVA’s six scoring drives were for 70 yards or greater, but none of them lasted longer than 4:24. I think we can put the idea of Virginia not being able to facilitate big plays firmly to bed. It’s been a decade since the Hoos started 3-1. UVA is off next week, but will open conference play against a resurgent Duke. That is going to be a very important game in determining the pecking order in the Coastal. After hosting the Blue Devils, the Hoos get the gift of three straight troubled programs (@UNC, BC, and @Pitt). It is entirely possible that UVA is 7-1 or 6-2 before they face the hard part of their schedule (GT, @No. 19 LOU, @No.14 Miami, and No. 13 VT). Barring any sort of catastrophic injuries this is a team that should end up bowl eligible.

6. North Carolina Tar Heels: Yeah… Duke was one of the games that UNC needed to keep their post season hopes alive. UNC put together some reasonable offensive numbers, but could not keep much sustained. Six of their possessions resulted three-and-outs, and another ended in a backbreaking pick six that put the game out of reach late in the fourth. North Carolina couldn’t convert third downs, only managing 3 of 16. UNC’s next opponent is Georgia Tech.

7. Pittsburgh Panthers: The Panthers looked bad. They only managed 235 yards, including a paltry 37 on the ground. Pitt only converted one of their 13 third downs and ceded possession to GT, only holding the ball for 24:58. Pitt’s secondary woes are well established at this point, but the Jackets only passed for 48 yards. Instead Pitt allowed 436 yards and five TDs on the ground. They allowed 6.5 yards per carry and simply had no answer for Paul Johnson’s triple option attack. Next week the Panthers hope to achieve their first FBS victory when the host the Rice Owls.

Conference

1. (No. 2 AP / No. 2 Coaches) Clemson Tigers (4-0) – Static

2. (No. 12 / No. 12) Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0) – Up One

3. (No. 17 / No. 18) Louisville Cardinals (3-1) – Up One

4. (No. 14 / No. 13) Miami-Florida Hurricanes (2-0) – Up One

5. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-1) – Up One

6. N.C. State Wolfpack (3-1) – Up Three

7. (Unr. / No. 25) Florida State Seminoles (0-2) – Down Five

8. Duke Blue Devils (4-0) – Down One

9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-0) – Down One

10. Virginia Cavaliers (3-1) – Static

11. Syracuse Orange (2-2) – Static

12. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-3) – Static

13. Boston College Eagles (1-3) – Up One

14. Pittsburgh Panthers (1-3) – Down One

Poll

Do you agree with the rankings?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Absolutely!
    (85 votes)
  • 9%
    THE HOKIES ARE THE GREATEST IN ALL OF THE LAND AND YOUR RANKINGS SHOULD REFLECT THAT, MISTER!
    (19 votes)
  • 27%
    VT is not as good as you are showing here, and that will become all too apparent next week.
    (55 votes)
  • 19%
    The middle should be shuffled... I think... I’m not sure, the ACC is confusing.
    (38 votes)
197 votes total Vote Now