1. Clemson Tigers: Clemson played the Wofford Terriers… so… that went how you thought it would, with the Tigers devastating them 59-14. Wofford is a pretty okay FCS squad. They are 5-3 overall, but still the Terriers on the schedule doesn’t help the perception that Clemson’s schedule is weak. The Tigers have a bye this coming weekend, but their next game is against an extremely dangerous Demon Deacons squad. The game against Wake is, by far, the hardest game of their season, but the Tigers do have them at home.
2. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: The shootout loss against Louisville is the only thing keeping Wake out of the conversation of being a surprise CFB Playoff contender. If they beat Clemson though… that story changes quickly. First, they must defeat the Hokies in Blacksburg. QB, Jamie Newman, returned and threw for 287 yards and three TDs against NCST, and will be a force against VT.
3. Louisville Cardinals: The Cards have nice wins over UVA and WF and their losses to ND and Clemson are acceptable. Their weird fall to a struggling FSU squad hurts them, but this is a dangerous team. Next week’s game against Miami is the largest roadblock remaining on their schedule, but it is entirely possible that this squad wins out.
4. Boston College Eagles: BC’s dynamic RB, AJ Dillon, gouged Syracuse for 242 yards and three touchdowns. The loss of Anthony Brown for the season, due to an ACL tear, hurts, but backup Dennis Grosel looked poised during a 195-yard, three TD effort. The Eagles do not have an easy path to a bowl game with FSU, Notre Dame, and Pitt remaining, but I expect them to achieve eligibility next week against the Seminoles.
5. N.C. State Wolfpack: NCST cannot beat ACC teams. They’ve been soundly defeated by WF, BC, and FSU. Their average points loss against those three is 24 points, and all three were three score (or more) losses. Their sole conference win is a six-point victory over a transitioning GT squad. The ‘Pack could easily lose all four of their remaining games, starting with Clemson this weekend. This is not a good football team.
6. Florida State Seminoles: Oof… Willie Taggart fired. The more seasoned Gobbler Country readers may remember how much our staff questioned the hire and particularly the hype surrounding the former Oregon head coach. The frustration of FSU is palpable. Athletic director David Coburn must be feeling the heat at this point. With the final game against the Florida Gators an all but guaranteed loss, the Seminoles must defeat BC this weekend in order to keep their bowl hopes alive.
7. Syracuse Orange: The Orange are the only ACC team without a conference victory and will likely remain defeated in the ACC with a remaining schedule that includes Duke, Louisville, and Wake Forest. Dino Babers is certainly missing last year’s most underrated ACC player, Eric Dungey.
1. Virginia Cavaliers: UVA qualified for a bowl as Bryce Perkins went off for 378 yards passing, three passing TDs, 112 yards on the ground, and two rushing TDs. Perkins is an incredible talent and if he is under center the Cavaliers can hang with any program. In fact, this might be the year they finally defeat the Hokies. Barring any sort of absurdity, they are sure to defeat GT next week and Liberty before they finally face VT.
2. Pittsburgh Panthers: Pitt also qualified for a bowl with a win over GT. This is a dangerous squad that played the Penn State Nittany Lions to the bone and barely lost to Miami. Their 16-point fall to UVA to start the season is the only sound beating they’ve taken. They do have the roughest part of their ACC slate remaining with UNC, VT, and BC over the next month.
3. Virginia Tech Hokies: What a heartbreaking loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but also impressive to be within one point of a nationally ranked program. The game was so close that it legitimately came down to some poor officiating calls and a handful of coaching decisions. The young men on the field played their hearts out and showed how dangerous they can be. The reality is that the athleticism on the field, robust as it is, cannot make up for the lackluster offensive play designs. I appreciate his efforts over the last three years, but stand by my continued criticism of offensive coordinator, Brad Cornelsen. He cannot keep up in the Power Five. I know he is Fuente’s boy, but I just don’t think this program can elevate while he is the OC. Looking forward to running up the middle a billion times against Wake Forest next week.
4. Miami-Florida Hurricanes: Whelp, their win over FSU cost Taggert his job. The Hurricanes are confusing. Dropping games against VT and UNC while defeating programs like UVA and Pitt and coming within one score of the Gators. The game against FIU all but ensures they make a bowl appearance, but first they must contend with the Cardinals next week.
5. North Carolina Tar Heels: Every single loss UNC has suffered has been by seven or fewer points. The losses to App State, Clemson, and VT are by three points or less. UVA and Wake were able to get a full seven points up. North Carolina is dangerous, really dangerous. They have a week off, but then face Pitt before dealing with Mercer and NCST. There are almost assuredly two wins in there somewhere to qualify UNC for a bowl.
6. Duke Blue Devils: Duke had the week off, but face Notre Dame next week. They don’t have the easiest path to six wins, but never sleep on a Cutcliffe team.
7. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: The transition from triple option to traditional offense continues with all the associated woes. They played the Panthers better than I would have expected, but the only winnable game remaining on the schedule is their 21 November match-up against the Wolfpack. Next week’s game against UVA is sure to be another loss.
1. (No. 4 AP / No. 3 Coaches) Clemson Tigers (8-0 overall / 6-0 ACC)
2. (No. 22 / No. 20) Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-1 / 4-1)
3. Louisville Cardinals (5-3 / 3-2)
4. Virginia Cavaliers (6-3 / 4-2)
5. Pittsburgh Panthers (6-3 / 3-2)
6. Boston College Eagles (5-4 / 3-3)
7. Virginia Tech Hokies (5-3 / 2-2)
8. Miami-Florida Hurricanes (5-4 / 3-3)
9. North Carolina Tar Heels (4-5 / 3-3)
10. N.C. State Wolfpack (4-4 / 1-3)
11. Duke Blue Devils (4-4 / 2-3)
12. Florida State Seminoles (4-5 / 3-4)
13. Syracuse Orange (3-6 / 0-5)
14. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-6 / 1-4)