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2021 ACC Rankings Week Three

The conference continued to look the worst of the Power Five, but the picture is becoming more clear in both the Atlantic and Coastal. Lots of shuffling in this week’s rankings!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Virginia Tech at West Virginia Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

First, let’s talk about the state of the ACC. They are easily the most beleaguered of the Power Five conferences. As it stands right now it is going to require another P5 conference to have an implosion and the ACC to significantly step up their performance. Unfortunately, that may be harder than it sounds. Many of the ACC programs have completed most of their non-conference match ups and the conference simply hasn’t performed well, at all, against Power Five competition. The ACC has also collected several embarrassing losses to Group of Five squads. This weekend the ACC added to those losses, dropping three nonconference games. Two of those games were ranked ACC squads losing to unranked middle-tier teams from other conferences. A very bad look. Sadly, I think this will be the first year that the ACC does not have representation in the College Football Playoff.

Atlantic

1. Clemson Tigers: They have a championship caliber defense shackled to an offense in crisis. The Tigers barely survived GT, at home, 14-8. In fact, it took a goal line stand with less than a minute left in regulation to stop the Jackets from tying the game. Disaster still almost struck when Jordan Shipley fumbled in the Clemson end zone, with 0:07 left on the clock. Clemson recovered and suffered only a safety. D.J. Uiagalelei had another pedestrian game and the Tigers’ offense only managed 284 yards. Clemson continues their conference slate, against NCST, this weekend.

2. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: WF and BC might be interchangeable at the No. 2 spot, but I will give the nod to the Deacons because of the play and health of QB Sam Hartman. Hartman has completed 57-83 (68.7%) for 691 yards, thrown six TDs, only one INT, and has a passer rating of 160.1. Clawson might have his best team ever. Considering the woes of the Clemson offense they have more than an outside shot of making the ACC Championship game. This Friday night’s match against UVA is a big one for the Deacons.

3. Boston College Eagles: BC handled the Temple Owls, 28-3, without injured QB, Phil Jurkovec, who will miss the remainder of the season after receiving hand surgery. Back-up, and now starter, Dennis Grosel was in the game, but very much in a manager role, only throwing 7 / 15 for 59 yards and a TD. How quickly Grosel can develop is how the Eagles’ season will go. This weekend BC faces SEC opponent, Missouri. Hooray.

4. Louisville Cardinals: Things start to get murky for the Atlantic down here in the bottom half of the Atlantic. The Cards are riding a two-game winning streak after dispatching Central Florida, 42-35. QB Malik Cunningham is a threat in the air and on the ground, but a defense that has allowed two 400+ yard games against FBS opponents could spell trouble down the line. This week they visit winless FSU.

5. NC State Wolfpack: Like Louisville, NCST has a loss against the SEC, a win against a struggling G5 team, and a win over an FCS opponent. QB Devin Leary has an arm (67.3% completion, 794 yards, six TDs, two INTs, and a 146.6 passer rating), but isn’t the dual threat that Louisville’s Cunningham is. Like WF and BC, NCST and LOU are interchangeable. This weekend they host a very mortal looking Clemson squad.

6. Syracuse Orange: The Orange beat up on FCS squad Albany, who hasn’t managed any wins against their FCS opponents, 62-24. This Friday night they face a 3-0 Liberty squad that loves collecting wins over Power Five teams.

7. Florida State Seminoles: WF scored in the first three minutes of the game on a 49-yard pass and never looked back, dismantling the Seminoles, 35-14. This is FSU’s worst start since 1976. They have allowed 400+ yards of offense against FBS opponents. Malik Cunningham must be licking his chops for their match against FSU.

Coastal

1. Virginia Tech Hokies: No need to relive the disappointing loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers. You can read all about our thoughts in previous articles. Despite the loss, it was against a nonconference opponent and the Hokies remain at the driver’s seat regarding their Coastal fate. This weekend they host the Richmond Spiders, an FCS in-state foe. They should be 3-1 heading into their bye week.

2. North Carolina Tar Heels: UNC showed what their offense is capable of against a decent Virginia squad, winning 59-39. Once Heisman hopeful, Sam Howell, threw for 307 yards and five TDs! On the ground he added 112 yards. Tar Heels running back, Ty Chandler, also went off for 198 yards, averaging 9.9 yards per carry, on his way to two TDs. This weekend North Carolina visits the chippy Yellow Jackets who almost unseated the mighty Tigers.

3. Virginia Cavaliers: QB Brennan Armstrong threw for 554 yards and four TDs. That’s 20 yards more than Burmeister has thrown this entire season. UVA couldn’t find any purchase on the ground, mustering only 24 total yards rushing. They went into the half leading, 28-24, and were in the game until the waning minutes of the third quarter when Howell and company took over and had three TD drives totaling 10:51, keeping the UVA offense off the field. The Hoos have a key matchup against Wake Forest Friday, which could have significant implications on their Coastal hopes, should they lose.

4. Pittsburgh Panthers: The Panthers lost to G5 team, Western Michigan, 44-41. Another nonconference loss to a team the ACC shouldn’t be losing to if they want to maintain the appropriate conference credibility to reach the CFB playoff. Next up they face an undefeated FCS foe in New Hampshire.

5. Duke Blue Devils: At least Duke managed to defeat their nonconference opponent when they beat the Northwestern Wildcats, 30-23. I’ll take any victory over a P5 program at this point. The Blue Devils needed this win to keep their post season hopes alive. This weekend they face the last of their nonconference opponents when the Kansas Jayhawks come calling. Same as before, they need this win to keep their bowl hopes around before starting a conference slate that includes UNC, UVA, WF, VT, and Miami.

6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: GT played Clemson to the bone. I don’t think that is as much a testament to the Yellow Jackets being a sleeper team as much as it shows how rough Clemson’s offense is right now. Regardless, they took it to the defending ACC champions who have more five-star recruits on the bench than GT has on the team. This weekend they face the only other ACC team left in the rankings when UNC invades.

7. Miami Hurricanes: Maybe I am being unfair the ‘Canes by dropping them to the bottom here, but maybe not. They barely beat Appalachian State and were handled by a mid-tier Big Ten team when Michigan State beat them 38-17. Miami couldn’t find anything on the ground, rushing for only 52 yards, and they turned the ball over four times. MSU’s previous wins were against the Northwestern Team that Duke beat and Youngstown State. Heck, the Wildcats played the Spartans better than the Hurricanes, putting up 21 points in their week one match. This is certainly not the performance expected of a team that was supposed to be UNC’s biggest challenge in the Coastal and a dark horse for the ACC crown. This weekend Miami hosts FCS squad Central Connecticut.

Overall

1. (No. 9 AP / No. 7 Coaches) Clemson Tigers (2-1) – Static

2. Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1) – Static

3. (No. 21 / No. 20) North Carolina Tar Heels (2-1) – Up Two

4. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-0) – Up Two

5. Boston College Eagles (3-0) – Down One

6. Virginia Cavaliers (2-1) – Up Two

7. Louisville Cardinals (2-1) – Up Three

8. NC State Wolfpack (2-1) – Up One

9. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-1) – Down Two

10. Duke Blue Devils (2-1) – Up Three

11. Syracuse Orange (2-1) - Static

12. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-2) - Static

13. Miami Hurricanes (1-2) – Down Ten

14. Florida State Seminoles (0-3) – Static