1. Clemson (Bye / Previous:2)
2. Notre Dame (Beat UMass / Previous:1)
3. Florida State (Bye / Previous:3)
They're Really Not That Bad
4. Miami (Bye / Previous:5)
5. Duke (Beat Georgia Tech / Previous:10)
6. Georgia Tech (Lost to Duke / Previous:4)
7. NC State (Beat South Alabama / Previous:7)
8. Louisville (Beat Samford / Previous:8)
9. Virginia Tech (Lost to ECU / Previous:6)
10. Boston College (Beat NIU / Previous:11)
11. North Carolina (Beat Delaware / Previous:9)
12. Pittsburgh (Bye / Previous:13)
They're Really That Bad
13. Syracuse (Lost to LSU / Previous:14)
14. Virginia (Lost to Boise St. / Previous:12)
15. Wake Forest (Lost to Indiana / Previous:15)
This past week, I rewatched the Louisville game (I originally watched from PJ Cardinal Stadium) and felt better about the performance. The referees really were as lopsided as so many of you complained about in the comment section. I can't imagine Watson will be that off again, and Wayne Gallman was even better than I realized. It seems the good take-aways will carry over, and the bad seem less likely to do so.
Ammon Lakip returns to the team this week and should aid the kickoff team. Coach Swinney noted that they would use the additional time to remedy the Tigers' poor kick coverage. Hopefully, the bye week pays dividends heading into what very well may be the biggest stage Clemson has played on in decades (Clemson's huge 2013 home game vs UGA was viewed by over eight million households, yet the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game the following week still topped it).
Around the ACC
Speaking of kick coverage, the Yellow Jackets were hilariously bad, allowing both a punt and kick return (though the punt return ended up being down on the one-yard line). For the second straight week, the option attack looked mediocre, and those blowout wins over Alcorn State and Tulane look much less telling. I don't think I've ever used the word "duck" as much as I did while watching Justin Thomas throw the ball on Saturday. 21 pass attempts for GT has to be a record for the Paul Johnson era, and only six went for completions.
Last season I failed to buy into the GT hype until they finally proved me wrong by winning the Orange Bowl. After eating that crow, I didn't have the gall to stick to my guns this season after their hot start. Even worse, before their loss to Notre Dame, I shifted them to #1 in our power rankings. They won't sniff that spot again for quite a long while.
GT wasn't the only Coastal big dog to blow it. Virginia Tech, whose favorable schedule made many (including me) pick them to win the Coastal, lost to ECU for the second straight year. Had it been a case of their offense failing to score, you'd be tempted to write it off as a simple result of losing their starting QB. However, it was the defense that let them down, allowing 35 points. You have to wonder how much longer Beamer will be there, as they seem unable to rebound and continue to be a very mediocre program.
With the mess atop the Coastal, Miami has to be feeling pretty good. Winning the division will be tough, as they face Clemson and FSU from the Atlantic while VT, who they play in Blacksburg, and Duke, who they play in Durham, have drastically easier cross-over opponents.
Notre Dame slogged along for a bit before pulling away from UMass. Unfortunately for them, their past wins don't look quite as good after this week. UVA looks even worse after a blowout to Boise State. GT - their big win - doesn't look as impressive anymore. Even Texas lost (again).
Fueled by a 28-point first quarter, NC State beat South Alabama to move to (a very soft) 4-0. Louisville finally earned their first win of the season by beating Samford 45--3. BC squeaked out a win over Northern Illinois.
UNC struggled to get out to a significant lead over Delaware. Finally, Coach Fedora gave the hook to Marquise Williams and enjoyed an outstanding performance from Mitch Trubisky (17/20, 312 passing yards, 4 passing TDs). It remains to be seen who will start against Georgia Tech next week.
Syracuse lost to LSU, but actually did so respectably, and as a result break out of the bottom two in this edition of the power rankings. They also had this cool play.
Virginia got the Friday night ESPN game and used the spotlight to publicly embarrass themselves. Why is the AD of a borderline bowl program scheduling UCLA, Boise State, and Notre Dame out of conference? I know you can't help Notre Dame, but you've got to work around it like Clemson did (notice no UGA or Auburn this year).
While I give them flak for doing it, NC State is smart for taking the alternative route. They scheduled four non-conference cupcakes (even playing a home-and-home series with Old Dominion and South Alabama). The easy wins guarantee a bowl berth and over time they build the program up to the point where playing legitimate non-conference opponents makes sense (i.e., doesn't mean automatic losses). Virginia has eaten three unnecessary losses and likely cost themselves a bowl berth.
Unlike Virginia's losses to UCLA and Notre Dame, this one wasn't just a loss, it was a brutal home blowout. A Mountain West team - with all due respect to Boise State - marched into Charlottesville and dismantled the Hoos. The Broncos scored 56 points, with at least 10 in each quarter. They simply poured it on, as Mike London's defensive-minded team was hapless. To some extent, I blame the AD for poor scheduling, but when you lose this bad the coach lands in the hot seat. Virginia gets very winnable games against Pittsburgh and Syracuse next. If they drop those, they're looking at a one or two win season and likely a new coach.
Lastly, Wake Forest remains brutal and has firmly settled in to that "worst in the conference" spot. They'll be lucky to win another game this season.