With conference play heating up, what better time than now to give you my ACC power rankings after a wild week five.
Who else could be? Clemson looked really good on Saturday night in Blacksburg. Were they perfect? No. But they did play well. Kelly Bryant wasn’t super impressive passing the ball against a stout Virginia Tech defense, but like always he didn’t make mistakes that cost Clemson the game. Clemson’s defense was once again stellar, and right when the Hokies were getting back into the game, Dorian O’Daniel picks off Josh Jackson and jogs into the end zone. The Tigers didn’t rebuild, just reloaded. This week against Wake should be a good win for the Tigers.
I’m tempted to put Virginia Tech here, but Miami is undefeated and did handle Duke very well Friday night. Duke had a lot of chances to get back in the game, but the Canes, like any good team, held them off, and eventually pulled away. Malik Rosier has been very impressive in his first season as starter, and Miami’s defense may be the second best in the ACC. Mark Walton did go down with an injury and may be limited against FSU this week, but the Canes still should be favored.
The Hokies didn’t look bad on Saturday, and if anything the game was a testament to how quickly Justin Fuente has improved the program. The Hokies were very competitive with Clemson, and while the defense did allow Clemson to go for 332 yards, they didn’t allow too many big plays. Josh Jackson continues to impress, and the Hokie defense is still very good. Virginia Tech could take back the second spot after week six if Miami falls to Florida State University, and barring a big upset, the Hokies should beat Boston College soundly.
The Wolfpack took care of business against Syracuse, winning 33-25, in a game that got very interesting late. The Wolfpack secondary was not good, letting Eric Dungy throw for 385 yards, but the front seven was stellar as always, allowing only 59 yards rushing and getting three sacks. Ryan Finley was average, but once again didn’t make bad mistakes that cost his team. While the Pack secondary is undoubtedly the team’s Achilles heel, the rest of the defense, as well as the offense’s efficiency, makes up for it. State takes on Louisville this week, and a win would be another huge victory for Dave Doeren.
We’re going to learn a lot about Louisville this week when they matchup with NC State on the road, always dangerous for the favorite. Lamar Jackson took care of business against Murray State, impressive as always, as the Cards won 55-10. Louisville really doesn’t have a great win this season, although the Purdue win was decent, and I don’t know how the defense will fare against the Wolfpack this week. NCST should be able to move the ball against a below-average Cardinal defense, but can the Louisville offense score enough to beat State? Thursday will tell us a lot more about Louisville than we know as of now.
I have the Florida State and the Georgia Tech tied at six. Seminoles squeaked out a win against Wake Forest in week five, in a game that took off around five years of my life, give or take. The offense still has big questions. James Blackman looked uncomfortable and didn’t have his best game, which wasn’t helped by an offensive line that allowed 18 tackles for loss and five sacks. The rushing game finally found its footing though, with Jacques Patrick running for 126 yards and a touchdown, with Cam Akers adding 58 yards on 14 carries. The defense was inconsistent but still played well, and without several stops in the red zone, there is absolutely no way the Noles win that game. This week’s home game is a make or break game for FSU’s season, and a win would go a long way for the team’s confidence the rest of the year. A loss and Nole fans may want to start worrying about even making a bowl game.
The Yellow Jackets are quietly one of the best teams in ACC Coastal so far. Their defense held UNC to only 247 yards, while the offense ran for 403 yards in a big win over an injury-ridden North Carolina team. TaQuon Marshall was impressive as always against a bad Tar Heel defense, running for 137 yards with a touchdown, and even passed for 53 and a touchdown. Georgia Tech should probably be 4-0 right now after they blew the lead against Tennessee, but right now they’re 2-0 in the Coastal with a bye week to prepare for Miami. If the Yellow Jackets can figure out how to run on the Miami D in two weeks, they could be sitting pretty at the top of the Coastal division. More importantly, they could rise in these rankings that Paul Johnson most definitely reads.
Poor Wake Forest. If I wasn’t an FSU fan I would feel even worse for the Deacs. They outplayed the Seminoles for most the game, but still came up short, and now they have to play Clemson on the road. The defense was dominant most of the game, having 18 tackles for loss and sacking Blackman five times. John Wolford and Greg Dortch are one of the best QB/WR duos in the conference, and Wolford is woefully underrated as a quarterback. Wake goes to Clemson this week, and while it is highly unlikely they spring an upset, expect the Deacs to keep things close most of the game.
This spot could go to Virginia, but I have been more impressed with Duke so far this year. Although they did lose to Miami by 25 points, the game was a lot closer than the score indicates. Daniel Jones wasn’t great, completing a little of 50 percent of his passes and only throwing for 166 yards. The running game was decent, however, where the Blue Devils ran for 183 yards as a team, an impressive number against a good Miami defense. Speaking of defense, Duke’s played well until they ran out of gas late, holding Miami to only 17 points until the fourth despite the Canes constantly having good field position. Duke plays Virginia this week in a pivotal conference matchup that will be crucial for both teams’ ACC Championship hopes.
The Cavaliers have been really impressive so far this season, exceeding expectations. They were off this week, but quarterback Kurt Benkert has been very good this season, passing for over 1200 yards and 10 touchdowns through four games. Coming off a huge win on the road against Boise State, the Cavs have had an extra week to prepare for Duke, and a win would go a long way in establishing Virginia as a contender. UVA fans haven’t been this excited since 2011 when they made the Chick-fil-a Bowl.
Syracuse gets the nod above equally mediocre teams like UNC and Pitt for the simple reason that they were impressive in back to back weeks, despite losing both games. Syracuse played well against LSU Tigers two weeks ago, which isn’t as impressive after LSU’s loss against Troy, but going to Death Valley and challenging the Tigers is still impressive. The Orange were also impressive in their late rally against NC State on the road, and considering the Wolfpack might be the second best team in the ACC, that strengthens their argument in my book. Yes, Syracuse is 2-3 with a loss at home to Middle Tennessee State, but Eric Dungey was extremely impressive against the Wolfpack, passing for 385 yards. The ground game wasn’t good at all, and ‘Cuse defense needs to improve in order to beat Pitt this weekend. The game against the Panthers is a game where both teams desperately need a win, and if Syracuse wants to be bowl eligible, they must win this game.
Hey Pittsburgh finally won a game convincingly. They hammered Rice 42-10, and Max Browne looked great, throwing for 410 yards and four touchdowns. Pitt has had a bit of an issue at quarterback, but it looks like Browne is the starter for now after Ben Dinucci was less than impressive against Georgia Tech last weekend. Rice is not a great team, but this win still gives Pitt the confidence they need coming up against Syracuse this week. The Pitt defense cannot allow Eric Dungy to shred them like Mason Rudolph did, and the offense must rely on Browne to be good. This week will be crucial if Pitt wants to make a bowl game this season.
BC is only not last because they beat Central Michigan pretty convincingly. CMU has a good offense led by ex-Michigan QB Shane Morris, but he was ineffective against the Eagles, throwing for only 180 yards with three interceptions. The Boston College defense had another stellar game, after playing decently against Clemson last week, and allowed the offense room to breathe. Quarterback Anthony Brown didn’t need to do much, as the Eagles ran for 224 yards as team, 120 coming from freshman AJ Dillon. The win gives the Eagles much needed confidence going into this week when they take on Virginia Tech at home, and while it is unlikely the Eagles pull an upset, anything can happen. For Steve Addazio’s job security, he better hope Team Chaos reigns supreme on October 7 against the Hokies.
The Heels lost again on Saturday, this time to Georgia Tech in a game that wasn’t close. UNC let up 456 yards of offense to the Jackets, and the offense wasn’t much better than the defense, with Chazz Surratt only throwing for 141 yards and an interception, and the team in total had only 247 yards, the third worst under Larry Fedora. In fairness, the UNC defense was able to contain Georgia Tech for the first half, but after a turnover in the third the Jackets took control. UNC has been decimated by injury and it looks like will not be bowl eligible this season if games like this become the norm. The Heels now fall to 1-4 overall and play Notre Dame at home this weekend. Maybe the Blue and White will spring an upset, but expect them to drop to 1-5, and stay at No. 14 in our rankings.
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