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ACC Power Rankings: Notre Dame Rises After Biggest Win of Season

In week 3, Notre Dame earned the biggest win of any of the teams in our power rankings, vaulting them to the top.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Ranked Teams
1.  Notre Dame (Beat Georgia Tech / Previous:4)
2.  Clemson (Beat Louisville / Previous:2)
3.  Florida State (Beat Boston College / Previous:3)
4.  Georgia Tech (Lost to Notre Dame / Previous:1)

Tier 2
5.  Miami (Beat Nebraska / Previous:5)
6.  Virginia Tech (Beat Purdue / Previous:7)
7.  NC State
(Beat Old Dominion / Previous:8)
8.  Louisville
(Lost to Clemson / Previous:9)
9.  North Carolina (Beat Illinois / Previous:10)
10.  Duke (Lost to Northwestern / Previous:6)
11.  Boston College (Lost to FSU / Previous:11)
12.  Virginia (Beat William & Mary / Previous:12)
13.  Pittsburgh (Lost to Iowa / Previous:13)

Tier 3
14.  Syracuse (Beat Central Michigan / Previous:14)
15.  Wake Forest (Beat Army / Previous:15)

Clemson Commentary
QuackingTiger may have said it best when he called this week's game a wake up call for Clemson, and added that we were fortunate to win our wake up call moment. Watson had likely his worst full game of his career. He finished 21/30 with 2 INTs and 2 TDs. He also missed a wide open first down throw to Jordan Leggett, which was very uncharacteristic. I suppose all humans are going to have an off day; I just never made my peace with him actually being a mere human. Hopefully, his worst game is out of the way, and done so with a win.

The good news is the defense looked fantastic. Yes, Louisville's offense is bordering on dumpster fire status, but Venable's defense held them to just one TD. The mid-range routes worked a bit for the Cardinals, but Clemson stuffed the run, created turnovers, and avoided long passing plays. I'm blown away that this defense isn't showing a bigger drop off from last season, and they give me hope that we can continue the path to an ACC Championship.

More good news from the Tiger offense from Thursday night was the performance of Wayne Gallman. For those who criticized Gallman's running as "soft" a year ago, he appeared to be listening, and not so politely disagrees. Gallman bulldozed his way through the Cardinal defense, carrying the ball 24 times for 139 yards. Gallman's consistency will continue to open up the Tiger offense. A large area of concern for the Tigers early in the season has been the special teams. Kicker Greg Huegel was 2-for-2 for the night, but kickoff coverage continues to be a concern, since Huegel's low and short kicks don't allow for the coverage team to get down the field quickly enough. Traveon Samuel emphasized this point with a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give Louisville new life in a game Clemson was looking to put out of reach. Ammon Lakip has been reinstated and will be available for the Notre Dame game. Huegel is expected to start at placekicker, but there is an open competition for kickoff duties. This is an area that will need to drastically improve for Clemson to have a realistic shot at running the table

Around the ACC

Notre Dame solidified their spot at the top of our ACC power rankings with a 30-22 victory over the 14th ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. With the focus in South Bend solely on the loss of starting quarterback Malik Zaire, C.J. Prosise reminded watchers that Notre Dame is still a top tier team with DeShone Kizer at the helm. Prosise rushed for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 91 yard game breaker—the longest in Notre Dame history. While the loss is a kick to the side of Georgia Tech, they illustrated that they are not to be taken lightly with a near 4th quarter comeback, beginning when they were down 30-7 and ending in a one possession game.

The ACC Atlantic watch continued in Chestnut Hill as Florida State continued the trend of ACC schools playing mediocre during weekday games with a lackluster 14-0 win over Boston College. Everett Golson continued to look mediocre completing 15-of-24 passes for only 119 yards, while Dalvin Cook was held to only 54 rushing yards. Boston College's defense had a big day, but their offense is every bit as bad as we initially expected, and now they've lost starting QB Darius Wade for the season. They need to win seven games to make a bowl game (they've played two FCS opponents), and that may be asking too much.

Miami appeared to be the bright spot for the ACC this week, jumping out to a 27-to-3 lead against Nebraska. Miami squandered the 24 point lead and allowed Nebraska to score with 38 seconds left and then tie the game with a 2-point conversion, before winning 36-to-33 in overtime. Despite blowing the big lead, this game is a big win for Miami, who's schedule sets up favorably home games until a match-up on the road against Florida State. Look for the Canes to play inspired football with head coach Al Golden's job on the line.

Duke did the ACC no favors, dropping a home contest to Big 10 opponent Northwestern. The Blue Devil offense looked anemic, putting up only 1 offensive touchdown, which was set up by an interception returned deep in Wildcat territory. Duke turned the ball over 3 times and looked sloppy all day. They looked to take a step back, therefore dropping from 6 to 10 in our ACC Power Rankings.

Syracuse and Wake Forest both struggled to earn wins against mediocre opponents. Similarly, they also both lost their starting QB to injury. For Wake, John Wolford exited the game with an injury early, and true freshman Kendall Hinton took over. After nearly throwing a game losing pick-six, Wake Forest kicked a game winning field goal at Army. Hinton showed good arm strength, but questionable accuracy and decision making. What makes him so interesting, though, is his ability to escape pressure and pick up yards with his feet. With Wake Forest's abysmal offensive line, that's a big plus. The fine folks at Blogger So Dear believe he should continue to see some playing time, even when Wolford returns.

Syracuse needed overtime to beat Central Michigan, but got the win, and are 3-0 for the first time in 24 years! A nasty helmet-to-helmet hit knocked their QB out of the game (highlights here) and elicited death threats from fans. The Orange have LSU up next, and without their QB (Terrel Hunt is already out) it could be especially ugly (not that it would be close in any case),