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ACC Power Rankings: Week 2

Notre Dame and Virginia Tech took it to the Big 10 this week while BC was the only ACC team to lose.

Mary Ann Chastain

1. Florida State
Last Week: W 37-12 vs. Citadel
This Week: Bye
Previous Ranking: 1

FSU was dominant. The offense scored touchdowns on all four first half drives and held the Citadel scoreless into the fourth quarter. If FSU's job was to exert their dominance and get out healthy, they only achieved the first of those goals. Three defensive linemen went down with injury and didn't return.

Starting defensive tackle Eddie Goldman went down during the first series of the game and his replacement, sophomore Justin Shanks went down in the second series. Starting nose guard Nile Lawrence-Stample was injured in the second quarter. All three were lost for the game with lower leg injuries and Goldman was seen on crutches and wearing a boot on his left foot after the game. -

2. Notre Dame
Last Week: W 31-0 vs. Michigan
This Week: Purdue (Indianapolis)
Previous Ranking: 2

I imagine many were thinking that placing Notre Dame above Clemson in last week's ACC Power Rankings was a bit presumptuous, but this week the move was vindicated by the Irish's absolute stomping of the Wolverines. In the last game of the rivalry for the immediate future, Notre Dame treated the home crowd to a dominant performance on both sides of the ball. Golson had 226 passing yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. The Irish only ran for 54 yards, but their defense was the story. Michigan QB Devin Gardner was only 19/32 and threw three picks. Notre Dame has a very strong schedule with Stanford, @FSU, @ASU, Louisville, and @USC remaining. 9-3 and a trip to the Capital One Bowl (new to the ACC line-up) seems possible. This is a solid squad by the looks of it.

3. Clemson
Last Week: W
73-7 vs. SC State 
Next Week: Bye
Previous Ranking: 3

Clemson's annual in-state FCS game took on a little more meaning this year as it came after a tough loss in Athens and before a trip to Tallahassee in two weeks. Even against lesser competition, we wanted to see a couple of things to feel good going into the bye week. Would a receiver step up and give Clemson a home run threat? Between Spiller, Ellington, Hopkins, Watkins, and Bryant, we've become accustomed to having electric playmakers. But in week one we saw more drops (Williams twice and Peake once) than big plays. Fortunately for Clemson, Artavis Scott came through with a huge performance - the biggest from a Clemson freshman - 164 yards and 2 TDs on 6 receptions. He showed great speed, quickness, and some muscle and toughness when he barreled through the goal line. He even had the presence of mind to bat down what should have been a Cole Stoudt interception. He could be Clemson's electric playmaker in 2014.

We wanted to see Wayne Gallman and Adam Choice get extended action, and they did. Gallman had 77 yards on 10 carries and Adam Choice had 74 on 12 with a touchdown. Gallman had the speed to get around defenders and make plays, albiet against FCS competition, while Adam Choice looked like that big back Clemson has been missing for so long.

Finally, we all wanted to see more Deshaun Watson and #4 gave Clemson fans a treat. Watson looked outstanding, going 8/9 with 3 TDs. His touchdown pass to Jay Jay McCullough was something from the NFL.

I'm not comfortable communicating any optimism about what's going to happen in two weeks against the Seminoles, but for an FCS game, this one couldn't have gone much better. We'll be breaking it down in more detail in the coming days, so stay tuned.

4. Virginia Tech
Last Week: W 35-21 at Ohio State
This Week: East Carolina
Last Ranking: 6

It's always nice when the Big 10 makes the ACC look like the SEC. The Buckeyes aren't the same team that lost to Clemson in the Orange Bowl - no Braxton Miller or Carlos Hyde on the field - but picking up a win in the Horseshoe is always very impressive and the Hokies made a big statement to the nation.

The VT secondary was outstanding. They tallied three interceptions and gave Head Coach Frank Beamer the confidence to leave them on an island and bring wave after wave of heavy blitz against the Ohio State offensive line. The strategy worked as they collected seven sacks and prevented the Buckeye offense from finding any rhythm. While I think it's premature to say they're back, this is a huge win for the Hokies.

CUVince and I both predicted the Hokies to win the Coastal Division, but more so because of their incredibly soft ACC schedule - pulling Wake and BC from the Atlantic. With their toughest game already won, Miami and GT both looking very average, and both trekking to Blacksburg, their toughest games remaining are: ECU, @UNC, @Pitt, and @Duke. Even if they split those games, they finish 10-2, likely as Coastal Division Champions.

A discussion question for the comment section - Did you think Michael Brewer looked better than post-2011 Logan Thomas?

5. Louisville
Last Week: W 66-21 vs. Murray State
This Week: at Virginia
Previous Ranking: 4

After seeing Louisville's D-line have their way against Miami, I expected to see more than one sack against Murray State, but I suppose holding them to 41 rushing yards will suffice. Louisville took care of business and has four of their easiest games upcoming. Expect them to be highly (over)rated when they roll into Death Valley.

6. Duke
Last Week: W 34-17 at Troy
This Week: Kansas
Last Ranking: 5

Troy got off to a 14-3 start, but Anthony Boone played very well and led Duke back to collect a road win. Boone ran for 47 yards and 2 TDs and passed for 268 and a TD. Jamison Crowder collected 7 receptions for 70 yards. Duke doesn't look to be a great running team or a stout defensive power, but they're going to be very competitive in their division and, given their schedule, I'd pick them to win it if the Hokies falter.

7. Pittsburgh
Last Week: W 30-20 at Boston College
This Week: at Florida International
Previous Ranking: 9

Chad Voytik got off to an ugly start. He was totally locked onto his star receiver Tyler Boyd, almost not bothering to survey the defense or use check downs. He settled down a bit as the game wore on, but the bigger takeaway is that Pittburgh won't ask him to do much. They'll rely on their defense, a dominant rushing attack that has over 700 yards in two games, and when they do let him pass, Tyler Boyd can do 90% of the work. He may be the most dynamic receiver in the ACC with DeVante Parker injured and Watkins in Buffalo.

8. North Carolina
Last Week: W 31-27 vs. San Diego State

This Week: Bye
Last Ranking: 7

AP poll voters should be ashamed that they ranked UNC over Clemson after week one. Their offense was sloppy in their win over Liberty even though they put up big numbers by the end of the day. In week two, the San Diego State Aztecs fell just a play short of the upset bid in Chapel Hill as they were picked off in the end zone with less than a minute to play. That was enough to drop them out of the rankings, even at 2-0.

Marquise Williams only ceded two pass attempts to backup Mitch Trubisky in their latest game and I believe Williams can be a very effective dual threat QB for the Powder Blue Goats, but they'll have to get that defense - which allowed 371 passing yards to the Aztecs - in check or they'll make Artavis look like Sammy and Williams look like Bryant. To be fair, they did get three picks, but that's a lot of yards to surrender to any "City State" football team.

They'll take their bye this week before running the gamut of @ECU, @Clemson, VT, @ND. They'll be lucky to win even one of those games.

9. Miami
Last Week: W 41-7 Florida A&M
This Week: Arkansas State
Last Ranking: 8

Freshman QB Brad Kaaya had two TDs and two INTs as the Hurricanes wiped the floor with the school that shares an engineering department with FSU. Miami did what they were supposed to do against their in-state FCS foe, but I still have concerns about their QB situation and their offensive line. If Ryan Williams comes back at full strength, Kaaya rapidly improves as he gains experience, or Bugs Bunny gives the O-line some of Michael Jordan's Secret Stuff, they could be very competitive within their division because they have great skill position players. Until one of those three things happen (I'm betting on the third), they remain down at #9.

10. Georgia Tech
Last Week: W 38-21 at Tulane
This Week: Georgia Southern
Previous Ranking: 10

The Yellow Jackets entered halftime up just 24-21, but held the Green Wave scoreless in the second half to make it look more respectable. Last week it appeared that Justin Thomas would give them the ability to attack vertically on rare occasion, just enough to keep defenses on their toes. This week he averaged 1.9 yards per pass attempt as he recorded 15 total passing yards.

Tulane threw three interceptions, otherwise this one may have been much closer. Nevertheless, GT nabbed a road win and improved to 2-0, so I'll hold my criticism for now. Looking ahead, don't be surprised to see Tech lose four of their next seven games.

11. Virginia
Last Week: W 45-13 vs. Richmond
This Week: Louisville
Previous Ranking: 11

Greyson Lambert got the majority of the snaps at QB again, and was more palatable against softer competition going 13/15. The Hoos only averaged 3.9 YPC against Mike London's old team, but managed 45 points against the Spiders.

Virginia will likely struggle to score points in ACC play, but their defense is finally coming together. Next week they'll face Louisville and we'll find out if the UCLA game was a positive blip or if Mike London finally has the program coming together. I'm not completely sold on the idea that Virginia will be awful all year and London will be gone at its conclusion.

12. Boston College
Last Week: L 20-30 Pittsburgh 
This Week: USC
Previous Ranking: 12

Heading into their ACC opener, we highlighted the matchup between Pittsburgh's rushing attack which had 409 rushing yards against Delaware and BC's rush defense which held UMass to just 55 yards on the ground. Long story short, Pittsburgh's rushing attack won the battle - handily. Their star RB James Conner torched the BC defense for 214 yards on the ground as the Panthers totaled 303 rushing yards.

QB Tyler Murphy is an especially inaccurate passer, but ran for 100+ yards for the second straight week. He may be a downgrade from Chase Rettig overall, but, in fairness, he doesn't have WR Alex Amidon or RB Andre Williams to rely upon. They don't have a lot of weapons in Chestnut Hill, so expect the Eagles to take a step back this year. Given the lopsided nature of the Atlantic division, they could manage anywhere between one and three ACC wins (looking at NC State, Wake Forest, and Boston College). Next up is Southern Cal, who is coming off an impressive win over Stanford. It'll be hard for BC to score on the Trojan defense.

13. Syracuse
Last Week: Bye 
This Week: at Central Michigan 
Previous Ranking: 13

What does it say that they are playing at Central Michigan? In any case, they should win next week, but with Maryland and Notre Dame remaining in the non-conference, Wake Forest and NC State are their only likely wins left on the schedule. Squeaking into a bowl game could be a best case scenario.

14. NC State
Last Week: W 46-34 Old Dominion
This Week: at South Florida
Previous: 14

NC State had to come back again against small time competition. The Old Dominion Monarchs scored 34 against the Pup Pack. This is a bad defense and a brutal team. Dave Doeren seemed like a good hire, and it's far too soon to throw him under the bus, but they shouldn't be this bad. The game against Wake Forest towards the season's end may be each team's only chance to pick-up an ACC win, and I would love to see the private school button-ups beat NC State and tell them to "ride their tractors home from Carter-Finley" as the sophisticates seem to enjoy telling their fellow North Carolinians.

15. Wake Forest
Last Week: W 23-7 Gardner Webb
This Week: at Utah State
Last ranking: 15

The good news: The Wake offense totaled 387 yards.
The bad news: They probably won't top that mark in BB&T Field again this season. This is the worst offense the ACC has seen in a long time.

Freshman QB John Wolford had three interceptions keeping the Deacon offense from scoring as much as the yardage totals would indicate. This was the weakest game on their schedule. They'll likely be the underdog for the remainder of their games.