1. Clemson (Beat Boston College / Previous: 1)
2. Florida State (Beat Louisville / Previous: 3)
3. Notre Dame (Beat USC / Previous: 2)
4. Pittsburgh (Beat Georgia Tech / Previous: 7)
5. North Carolina (Beat Wake Forest / Previous: 6)
6. Duke (Bye / Previous: 4)
7. Louisville (Lost to Florida State / Previous: 5)
8. Miami (Beat Virginia Tech / Previous: 9)
9. Virginia Tech (Lost to Miami / Previous: 8)
10. Virginia (Beat Syracuse / Previous: 15)
11. Georgia Tech (Lost to Pittsburgh / Previous: 10)
12. NC State (Bye / Previous: 11)
13. Wake Forest (Lost to North Carolina / Previous: 13)
14. Boston College (Lost to Clemson / Previous: 14)
15. Syracuse (Lost to Virginia / Previous: 12)
Brent Venables said it best when he stated that the best defense would win on Saturday night between Boston College and Clemson. That question was answered when the Tiger offense torched the #1 ranked total defense in the nation to the tune of 532 total yards against a defense that only gives up an average of 140 per game. On the flip side, the Tiger defense managed to hold Boston College to 246 total yards (68 coming on a 4th quarter drive) asserting more defensive dominance.
It is hard to say what has been the most impressive about this Tiger defense, but I continued to be impressed with Scott Pagano who continues to move back the offensive line several yards with gap penetration, and the ball-hawking abilities of Ben Boulware. The Clemson secondary involvement was limited as Boston College Freshman Jeff Smith managed to complete just 7-of-22 passes for 87 yards in his first career start, and finished with a QB rating of 15.9.
The offensive side of the ball showed the ability to adapt throughout the game as Wayne Gallman was held to only 48 yards on 17 carries against a stout BC defensive line. The play calling spread the passing game out with 9 different receivers catching passes from Watson, who finished with 420 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jordan Leggett has developed into the true red-zone threat to replace Mike Williams, catching a touchdown pass in his 4th consecutive game, and Mr. Reliable Artavis Scott hauled in 10 catches for 162 yards and another touchdown.
The kicking game has shown improvements over the past several weeks as Ammon Lakip has shown the ability to put the ball deep in the end zone to prevent any potential return and Greg Huegel made 2-of-2 Field Goals with a long of 42. Andy Teasdall was again extremely effective in changing field position with 4 punts averaging 45 yards per punt. While the special teams is head and shoulders above where it was at the beginning of the season, the punt return game remains a concern. Boston College was forced to punt 10 times during the night and Clemson only managed 5 returns for 1 yard on the night.
Before getting carried away with the statistics from this victory, Clemson did not play at its best. Watson's downfield passing game was not on target during the first half as Clemson missed several big play opportunities. Clemson also lost the turnover battle with 2 interceptions from Watson while the defense failed to produce a turnover. The offensive line also missed some assignment as Watson took several hits during the game that made every Tiger fan cringe.
In the next three games we will figure out just how tough this Tiger team is beginning with a road match-up in Miami before traveling to NC State on Halloween before the ACC Atlantic match-up with the Florida State Seminoles. After passing the first road test of the season against Louisville, we will have the opportunity to see how the Tigers fair on the road as 4 of their last 6 games take place away from Death Valley.
Around the ACC
Florida State picked up its most impressive win of the year as their offense erupted for 35 2nd half points against Louisville on Saturday. Florida State moves to #2 in our power rankings as they move into the Top 10 and appear to again be a playoff contender. Dalvin Cook continues to look unstoppable raking up 163 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Everett Golson played his best game as a Seminole passing for 372 yards and 3 touchdowns. While Louisville's record drops to 2-4 on the year, their death row of a first half schedule has ended and they have a legitimate chance to run the table if they can stay focused. Look for them to make some moves in the power rankings in the future weeks.
After Pittsburgh running back James Conner was lost for the season in week one, I would have bet that their season would unfold, however, Pitt defeated the injury depleted Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 31-28 with a late field goal to improve to 5-1 on the year. They received 2 touchdowns from WR Tyler Boyd. The 5-1 start after early season adversity is beyond impressive, but with games left against Notre Dame, Duke, Louisville and Miami, the resiliency of the Panthers will be tested.
The two roller coaster rides of the ACC Coastal continued to baffle everyone as Miami impressed with a big win against Virginia Tech 30-20 to improve to 4-2 while North Carolina dropped 29 points in the 2nd quarter alone against the dismal Demon Deacons en route to a 50-14 win thanks to 3 touchdown catches by Mack Hollins. We would attempt to predict the future performances of these two teams, but nobody knows whether Jekyll or Hyde will show up on a week-to-week basis. We will just have to let our weekly power rankings do the talking.
Syracuse's early season success seems to have come to an end as their quarterback injury issues appear to have caught up to them in a 44-38 3OT loss to the Virginia Cavaliers. With games against Pitt, Florida State, Lousiville and Clemson remaining, look for Syracuse to unravel and be a continuing bottom feeder in the ACC Power Rankings.