It is clear now that the ACC is unlikely to be represented in the College Football Playoff. The events of last weekend have thrown the conference into disarray and a greater chaos than normal surrounds the ACC season! In fact, the ACC conference play has been more entertaining than any other conference in college football! The divisions haven’t been this wide open in nearly a decade. Massive shuffling, in the rankings, has occurred this week!
1. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Coach Clawson finds himself and WF represented in the Top-25 after a two year absence. They also find themselves in the best position to win the conference since they last surprised the college football world, winning the ACC, under head coach Jim Grobe, back in 2006. On top of the consistent offensive play the defense of the Demon Deacons has stood out. Wake Forest looks like the best team in the ACC, but that defense will be put to the test when Malik Cunningham and LOU come to visit this Saturday.
2. Boston College Eagles: The only other undefeated team in the ACC, BC survived SEC foe Missouri, in overtime, 41-34. QB Dennis Grosel had a decent day passing for 175 yards, two TDs, and one INT. Eagles RB, Pat Garwo III, had a standout day, rushing 25 times for 175 yards and two TDs. This weekend BC invades Death Valley and faces a Clemson program looking to reestablish themselves as the power in the ACC.
3. NC State Wolfpack: I have them down in third, but NCST is in the driver’s seat for the Atlantic. Certainly, there are remaining challenges in the division, but they just took down the king. The Wolfpack will be looking to avoid a hangover loss when Louisiana Tech visits Saturday.
4. Clemson Tigers: This is DEFCON 5 for the Tigers. For the first time in 97 football weeks Clemson is not ranked in the Top Ten. D.J. Uigalelei continues to struggle leading an offense that only managed 214 total yards, during a 2OT loss to NCST, 27-21. The Tigers were 2-11 on third down and only had 49 offensive plays to the Wolfpack’s 96. Time of possession is also skewed heavily with Clemson only having the ball for 18:12. Those sorts of numbers will exhaust even the most conditioned and deep defenses. This is a five-alarm fire for Dabo Swinney and company. They are mortal and must introduce changes immediately if they are to stay competitive for the ACC.
5. Louisville Cardinals: It’s about time for comparisons to Lamar Jackson to start showing up about Malik Cunningham, so I will do that, but only so far as to say that Cunningham is a dual threat QB that must be slowed down for teams to beat the Cardinals. Florida State did not do that and they fell to the Cards, 31-23. This weekend, in a game that should be front and center, but somehow finds itself only on ESPN 3, Louisville and Wake Forest meet up in a match that has significant conference implications.
6. Syracuse Orange: I won’t lie, I was surprised that Syracuse beat Liberty. I thought this was going to be another disappointing nonconference loss, but the Orange came through and improved to 3-1 on the season. This weekend Syracuse travels to Tallahassee to face Florida State.
7. Florida State Seminoles: The only completely defeated team in the ACC. Actually, it’s the only team in the ACC below 0.500. FSU is favored against Syracuse, and the Orange look a likely candidate for the Seminoles to get into the win column, but they have certainly shown they can lose to teams that are less talented than they. This program seems to be in freefall.
1. Virginia Tech Hokies: The Hokies get to stay in the Coastal top-spot by virtue of their only loss being against a team that just took it to a top-5 squad (WVU barely lost to No. 4 OU, 16-13). VT’s own performance, against FCS in-state foe Richmond, did little to assuage concerns about the Virginia Tech offense. VT squeaked by the Spiders, 21-10. The Hokie offense managed to score fewer TDs against an FCS foe than they did last weekend during an away game against a Power 5 foe. Poor on field execution punctuated the familiar poor play calling and coaching decisions. The Hokies are still in the Coastal driver’s seat, but not for long with that offensive play. Virginia Tech has a bye this weekend.
2. Pittsburgh Panthers: For comparison, Pitt devastated New Hampshire, 77-7. New Hampshire and Richmond are in the same FCS conference and both were ranked in the FCS polls coming into their respective games last week. This weekend the Panthers will visit GT in a game that now carries a lot more conference implication than anyone, including me, expected.
3. Duke Blue Devils: Hey! How about that? The Kansas Jayhawks might not be the best team in the Big 12, but our lower tiered team beat their lower tiered team. Point in fact though… is Duke really lower tiered? We’ll see when they open their conference slate this weekend against UNC! Nothing would make Duke happier than to load onto the woes of their in-state rival.
4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Huh… alright. Does anyone want to play the Yellow Jackets right now? They are legitimately two or three plays from being 4-0. Coach Collins has GT competitive much quicker than anticipated. Defensively they look stout and the offense is developing rapidly. GT could win the Coastal.
5. North Carolina Tar Heels: Remember a few weeks ago when I said that the UNC win felt like VT’s win over the 2018 Seminoles, who started ranked and went on to implode and finish 5-7? Well… UNC can’t seem to win away games. The ACC is a maelstrom of possibility, but two conference losses this early in the season doesn’t bode well for any Coastal crown hopes.
6. Virginia Cavaliers: Brennan Armstrong continues to put up ridiculous passing stats. After last week’s 554 yards passing, Armstrong “only” threw 33 / 59 for 407 yards, two TDs, and one INT. UVA came within one score, early in the second quarter, but after that WF took over and the Hoos were never really a threat. This Thursday night UVA travels to Miami to face the Hurricanes. If the Cavaliers lose a third conference game they’re all but mathematically eliminated from divisional contention.
7. Miami Hurricanes: There are some concerns regarding the state of ACC play in the state of Virginia, but at least VA isn’t Florida, am I right? The two national championship winning programs that pushed the Big East and the ACC into a giant college football conference merger find both of themselves dead last in our power rankings. The ACC championship games, envisioned between FSU and Miami, have yet to occur and look farther away than ever. Miami beat FCS foe Central Connecticut, 69-0. Starting QB, D’Eriqu King, didn’t play last week and his status is questionable for Thursday’s match against UVA. The Hurricanes are just starting conference play, and are thus very alive in the Coastal picture, even though they don’t look the part.
1. (No. 21 AP / No. 25 Coaches) Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-0, 1-1 ACC) – Up Three
2. Boston College Eagles (4-0, 0-0) – Up Three
3. (No. 23 / Unr.) NC State Wolfpack (3-1, 1-0) – Up Five
4. (No. 25 / No. 19) Clemson Tigers (2-2, 1-1) – Down Three
5. Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1, 1-0) – Down Three
6. Louisville Cardinals (3-1, 1-0) – Up One
7. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1, 0-0) – Up Two
8. Duke Blue Devils (3-1, 0-0) – Up Two
9. Georgia Tech yellow Jackets (2-2, 1-1) – Up Three
10. North Carolina Tar Heels (2-2, 1-2) – Down Seven
11. Syracuse Orange (3-1, 0-0) - Static
12. Virginia Cavaliers (2-2, 0-2) – Down Six
13. Miami Hurricanes (2-2, 0-0) – Static
14. Florida State Seminoles (0-4, 0-2) – Static