1. Florida State: 3-0
Last Week: W 23-17 vs. Clemson
This Week: at NC State
Previous Ranking: 1
Florida State was outplayed at home, as their rushing attack was completely stuffed. Fortunately for them, the country gentlemen held the door open while the 'Noles ran in and stole the conference. The FSU defense is very good and the offense will begin clicking if/when Winston returns, but this isn't a good running team and they're not near the team they were last year. Nonetheless, they've essentially clinched the ACC Title. With their hardest test already passed, they're a favorite for the College Football Playoff.
2. Clemson: 1-2
Last Week: L 17-23 at Florida State
Next Week: North Carolina
Previous Ranking: 3
Clemson outgained FSU 417 to 318, but made so many silly mistakes it would be funny if it weren't our team. A horrible pass to a wide-open tight end resulted in a drop and then a shanked field goal. A bad snap out of the shotgun turned a simple QB sneak for TD into another missed field goal. (Morris said we were in the shotgun because Watson has struggled under center in short yardage situations.) A fumble deep in FSU territory in the closing minutes of regulation sent it to OT where Clemson would eventually lose. This was the most painful loss I've experience as a Clemson fan - worse than the 2010 OT loss at Auburn or the 2007 loss to Boston College.
Sitting at 1-2, many of our goals are now dashed. Win the opener, out. Win the division, out. Win the conference, out. At this point, there will be absolutely no satisfaction without recapturing the Palmetto Bowl. In our big Season Preview Series, I wrote: "For this particular season, winning nine games and either claiming the Atlantic division (unlikely) or beating South Carolina (toss up) defines success. If we lose to UGA, FSU, and South Carolina I won't be pleased with the season." To quote QuackingTiger, "This season is a complete waste if we don't beat South Carolina."
Next week we get UNC, who just allowed 70 points to ECU. Let's take out some frustrations. Also, we appear to be better than Notre Dame, so I'm giving us the jump.
3. Notre Dame: 3-0
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at Syracuse
Previous Ranking: 2
The Michigan win looks less impressive each week. Notre Dame scored at will against Michigan and shut out the Wolverine offense, but seeing Utah stymie Michigan's offense taints the defensive performance. (Michigan lost 10-26.)
Notre Dame should pummel Syracuse - who was overwhelmed by Maryland this week. After Syracuse, they host Stanford so then we'll really know how good they are. Stanford, despite the loss to USC, is a tough, physical team and I'll start believing Dame's top 10 rankings with a win.
4. Duke: 4-0
Last Week: W 47-13 vs. Tulane
This Week: at Miami
Last Ranking: 4
Nothing to see here, Duke just continues to plow through their soft non-conference slate as the rest of the Coastal Division looks weaker each week. ACC Coastal teams went 2-5 this week.
WR Jamison Crowder accounted for 119 of Anthony Boone's 181 passing yards as Duke run for 256 yards in a blowout win over Tulane. Next week they travel South to play Miami, who they beat last season. It will be one of many inter-divisional matchups that will decide who gets to lose to FSU in the ACCCG.
5. Virginia: 2-2
Last Week: L 33-41 at BYU
This Week: Kent State
Previous Ranking: 7
They came out firing and scored in the first 66 seconds. They led 16-13 in Provo at halftime, but broke in the second half as BYU used great punting to get the field position advantage and scored two third quarter TDs. Virginia QB Matt Johns entered in the third quarter to replace an injured Greyson Lambert and led UVA to an up-tempo TD drive, but a kickoff returned for a touchdown by BYU iced the game.
Pittsburgh, VT, and Miami all lost, and they already beat Louisville, so they move up with the respectable loss.
6. Louisville: 3-1
Last Week: W 34-3 at Florida International
This Week: Wake Forest
Previous Ranking: 8
We didn't learn much about Louisville this weekend as they beat Florida International, but they only had 12 rushing yards which is a little vexing. 324 passing yards is nice though. Their win over Miami also doesn't look nearly as impressive with Miami's 31-41 loss to Nebraska.
7. Pittsburgh: 3-1
Last Week: : 20-24 vs. Iowa
This Week: Akron
Previous Ranking: 6
I'm going to go out on a limb and say James Conner is this year's Andre Williams. He has 699 rushing yards this season. That said, the Pittsburgh hype was a bit premature and after all my ranting about the Big 10, I guess we deserved this embarrassing loss. Parity does not equal depth in the Coastal Division. An amazing stat from ESPN here: in Pittsburgh's 24 years in a conference, they've never gone undefeated in non-conference play.
8. Boston College: 3-1
Last Week: W 40-10 vs. Maine
This Week: Colorado State
Previous Ranking: 9
Tyler Murphy ran for another 99 yards and two TDs in this one as BC took care of business against a FCS tune-up. I wonder how Venables will attack such a speedy QB. He and Justin Thomas of Georgia Tech are the classic fast runner/inaccurate passer quarterbacks that give you headaches, but are limited in how far they can take their team.
9. Miami: 2-2
Last Week: L 31-41 at Nebraska
This Week: Duke
Last Ranking: 11
Freshman Brad Kaaya threw for 359 yards and I think many believe he will be excellent in time, but he also threw two interceptions and isn't as far along as Deshaun Watson. Nebraska's rushing attack abused Miami's defense which continues to be a weakness for the Hurricanes. Evidently, this one got nasty and only the captains and coaches shook hands after the game.
10. Georgia Tech: 4-0
Last Week: at Virginia Tech
This Week: Bye
Previous Ranking: 14
Nom, nom, nom. That's the sound of me eating my words. After seeing Georgia Tech struggle through the cupcakes on their schedule, I thought they'd be lucky to make a bowl game, but this weekend's road win over VT puts them at 4-0 and in the thick of the ACC Coastal race. Maybe it won't be a total roll over in Bobby Dodd when Clemson rolls into Atlanta.
Justin Thomas is fast... real fast. He ran for 165 yards. On the flip side, he was just 7/18 passing and missed some wide open receivers throughout the game.
Their defense made big plays, including a pick six early. After a dumb luck fumble return for a touchdown gave VT a late lead, the defense bounced back not too much later by picking off Michael Brewer for the third time, putting the Jackets in position to inch down the field and kick the winning field goal. While GT was opportunistic, this game was more about VT being inept that Georgia Tech looking great.
11. Virginia Tech: 2-2
Last Week: L 24-27 vs. Georgia Tech
This Week: Western Michigan
Last Ranking: 5
When Virginia Tech beat Ohio State, we all figured VT found a little offense behind a real QB, but in this one Michael Brewer made some atrocious decisions that resulted in interceptions and touchdowns. In the first half, he essentially closed his eyes and fired it deep downfield. It was intercepted and Georgia Tech scored on the ensuing drive. In the second half again facing pressure he lobbed it into the middle of the field where only GT had a chance to catch it. It was returned for a TD. Late in the game, in their two minute drill, he made the incorrect read and threw a third INT that led to the game winning FG. Sure, they scored 24, but six of those came on a fluke fumble recovery return for a TD and the offense gave away 10 points with a pick six and a late interception in dangerous field position.
I don't want to over apply the transitive property here, but I genuinely believe Georgia Southern has a better offense than the Hokies (scored 38 in Bobby Dodd). Just think, two weeks ago ESPN's ACC coverage had VT ranked above Clemson, as did the AP Poll voters.
On the positive, true freshman Isaiah Ford WR has begun to emerge as a playmaker, and Michael Brewer has probably already had his worst game of the season now.
12. North Carolina: 2-1
Last Week: L 41-70 at East Carolina
This Week: at Clemson
Last Ranking: 10
Last week we highlighted the four upcoming games for UNC (ECU, CU, VT, ND) and posited that they would go 0-4. They took step one down that path by allowing the Pirates to score 70. Their defense is worse than Wake Forests... See there are nice things to say about the Deacons. That VT Coastal division champion pick doesn't look great, but thank goodness we didn't pick UNC.
13. NC State: 4-0
Last Week: Presbyterian
This Week: Florida State
193 yards, three passing TDs, and no picks is a nice day even if it came against Presby. Jacoby Brissett has the Wolfpack offense looking decent. They host FSU next week, and I expect FSU to finally look dominant.
14. Syracuse: 2-1
Last Week: L 34-20 vs. Maryland
This Week: Notre Dame
Previous Ranking: 12
Good to see the ACC win this one over the Big East. Oh wait, we are stuck with Syracuse, scratch that. The Orange are an embarrassment to the color this season.
Good Average teams don't lose by two touchdowns at home to the Maryland Terrapins. Scott Shafer may have been a good defensive coordinator, but he seems immature, can't recruit (12th ranked class by Rivals last season and currently in 12th again), and this program doesn't seem likely to be much more than a borderline bowl team for the foreseeable future. I cannot wait to get a shot at this team in Death Valley.
15. Wake Forest: 2-2
Last Week: W 24-21 vs. Army
This Week: at Louisville
Last ranking: 15
Wake Forest shut out Army in the second half and managed to score 10 in the fourth quarter to sneak by with a three-point home victory. Although I still think their home game against Syracuse may be their only ACC win (and even that's with fingers crossed), this is a nice little win for them and reason to smile for a week.