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Week 1: ACC Power Rankings

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Week 1 gave us a couple big games to help clear up some of the pre-season murkiness. Notre Dame rises while North Carolina takes a tumble.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Tier 1
1.  Notre Dame (Beat Texas / Previous:3)
2.  Florida State (Beat Texas St. / Previous:1)
3.  Clemson (Beat Wofford / Previous:2)
4.  Georgia Tech (Beat Alcorn State / Previous:5)
5.  Louisville (Lost to Auburn / Previous:4)


Tier 2
6.  Duke (Beat Tulane / Previous:8)
7.  Virginia Tech (Lost to OSU / Previous:7)
8.  Miami (Beat Bethune-Cookman / Previous:11)
9.  NC State (Beat Troy / Previous:9)
10.  North Carolina (Lost to SC / Previous:6)
11.  Pittsburgh (Beat Youngstown St. / Previous:10)
12.  Boston College (Beat Maine / Previous:12)
13.  Virginia (Lost to UCLA / Previous:13)


Tier 3
14.  Wake Forest (Beat Elon / Previous:14)
15.  Syracuse (Beat Rhode Island / Previous:15)

Clemson Commentary

Overall, you have to be at least somewhat encouraged by Clemson's performance. Watson looked healthy and was his usual accurate self - though you'd like to see a little more downfield attacking. Ray-Ray McCloud and Artavis Scott looked great as they combined for 155 receiving yards and a TD. Most importantly though, both the offensive and defensive lines exceeded expectations.

On the offensive line, they consistently got push up the middle, allowing the offense to convert third-and-short situations. The defensive line stifled the Wofford's dive play and was in the backfield all day long. I was very concerned with this unit after losing so much to the NFL and then also losing Ebo Ogundeko and DJ Reader, but now feel much more comfortable (especially after seeing Louisville's offensive line).

The only clear negatives were the punting and of course the Mike Williams injury, which will keep him out through the Georgia Tech game. Hopefully he'll return against Miami or NC State - prior to the FSU game. From a football standpoint, the Tigers have plenty of depth, but are a bit "short" on tall receivers. Charone Peake can shift over into Mike William's role and only gives up an inch or two. Trevion Thompson likely gets more snaps and is about two inches shorter than Williams. Mike William's rapport and rhythm with Deshaun Watson is excellent so that hurts as well. Still, Clemson is loaded at WR so this isn't as devastating as it would be for many teams (losing a star WR, that is). Louisville losing James Quick, who isn't thought of as highly as Mike Williams, likely hurts them more.

From a personal standpoint, back injuries are scary. I've seen folks struggle with spinal fusions and the like. Mike Williams will have to wear a neck brace for a bit, which is going to be unpleasant, but hopefully there's a full recovery and this doesn't lead to any issues in the future.

With the injury, Clemson falls a spot in the power rankings, but they have a very solid Appalachian State team coming to town next week, which presents an opportunity to move back up a spot or two. App State returns a great deal of starters and should make their first ever bowl appearance this season. They beat Howard 49-0 last week.

Lastly, I was again pleased with "ScElliot" running the offense. They didn't seem to attack vertically as much as I would have preferred, but a 43-to-37 rush-to-pass attempt split with a dedication to the run in short yardage was refreshing.

Around the ACC

The Texas at Notre Dame game was about as clear and decisive as you can get as the Irish dominated Texas at the line of scrimmage en route to an impressive 38-3 win. Malik Zaire threw for 313 yards and 3 TDs with no picks and also looked awfully speedy when escaping pressure. The Irish had 527 yards compared to Texas's meager 163 (for reference, Clemson out-gained Wofford by a shade fewer yards, 533 to 213). It's hard to say just how much of that box score is credit to Notre Dame and how much is blame to Texas, but an extremely impressive debut for the Fighting Irish pushes them to the top spot in the Power Rankings.

Florida State got off to a bit of a rocky start as they entered halftime up just 21-10 over Texas State, but they kept the starters in and blew the doors off in the second half. Everett Golson put up really impressive stats, and they won 59-16 with a chunk of Texas State's offense coming off special team's miscues. Their yardage gained vs. allowed was dominant. A solid showing overall for the Seminoles, who get South Florida next week.

Louisville had a horrendous first half. It's hard to explain all the mistakes from players and coaches alike. You really have to watch the highlight video to do it justice. There are some real negatives to take from this game if you're Louisville. Reggie Bonnafon seems to have lost the starting QB gig, but his replacement - freshman Lamar Jackson - was just 9/20 with 100 yards and an INT. You can't put all the blame on the QBs though, since the offensive line was so bad. However you want to split the blame, the passing and pass blocking wasn't good. They also lost their best WR, James Quick, to an ankle injury. The defeat, injury, and new insights into the QB and O-line situation is enough to drop Louisville behind Georgia Tech in our ACC Power Rankings.

Duke was solid in a 37-7 road win over Tulane. New QB Thomas Sirk was 27/40 as the Duke aerial assault under David Cutcliffe continues. With Wake and BC selected as their Atlantic Division pairings this season, they are a definite threat to steal the Coastal.

Miami did what they're supposed to do against Bethune-Cookman in registering a 45-0 win. They showed they have the skill position players to absorb the departures of RB Duke Johnson and WR Phillip Dorsett in stride. We still need to learn more about their defense and offensive line, but that won't happen until they play Nebraska in their third game.

Troy is a bad Sun Belt team, and NC State's offense made it look like it. Jacoby Brissett finished 21/23 and the team compiled 450 yards. On the flip side, they also surrendered 305 yards and 21 points in an eventual 49-21 win. Their performance strengthens my opinion that they have a legitimately powerful offensive attack, but a mediocre defense (which lines up with their 2014 advanced stats).

Pittsburgh's defense had a poor showing as they allowed 37 points to the Youngstown State Fightin' Bo Pelinis. They gave up 407 total yards including 278 through the air. Pittsburgh's tough ground attack pulled them to a 45-37 victory, but it wasn't very impressive. Worse yet, last year's ACC Player of the Year, James Connor's MCL injury is more serious than initially reported, and he will miss the entire season. He was a true bell cow running back in a run heavy offense. We will see how big the drop off is to the second team option, but this is a potentially devastating loss.

BC beat Maine 24-3, but was only up 10-3 in the fourth quarter. They are about as we expected, transitioning on offense, but stout on defense. They allowed just 91 total yards (7 rushing yards). Next up, BC plays Howard, who App State just pulverized.

Virginia didn't score their first TD until garbage time, and couldn't keep up with UCLA. They're not as bad as the schedule will make them look (they play ND next). Matt Johns looked solid, but it's still crazy to think that the QB he beat out for the job is now starting at UGA.

Wake Forest cruised to a 41-3 win over Elon. Notable though, they racked up 203 rushing yards which is something like five-times above last year's rushing average.

Syracuse had a dominant 47-0 win over Rhode Island, but will begin ACC play next week against Wake Forest with a new QB. Syracuse lost starting QB Terrel Hunt to an Achilles injury thrusting true freshman QB Eric Dungey into a starting role sooner than expected. As much as we like to razz Syracuse, Achilles injuries are tough and we wish him a successful recovery. The Orange opened as 5.5 point favorites over Wake Forest in a home game that'll likely decide who avoids last place in the power rankings for the next month.

Last year I called UNC overrated when they were ranked above Clemson following the Tigers' Week 1 loss to UGA. This year, they returned 10 starters from a strong offense and appeared to be what I call a "post-hype sleeper," that is to say they've been somewhat forgotten after a few disappointments, but could still breakout. Well, shame on me for buying into what Larry Fedora is doing in Chapel Hill. On the season's opening Thursday night, they outgained South Carolina by 46 yards and averaged more yards per pass and per rush, however three turnovers doomed them. A team that had players called out for not caring about winning last season found all sorts of new ways to lose. That's a scary proposition. Maybe it'll never be the year of the Tar Heel, and they'll never do more than cheat to win basketball games.

Georgia Tech also played on Thursday against Alcorn State, the "2014 black college football national champions." They put up 34 points in the first quarter and yanked their starters. There was some concern about how they'd perform after losing all their skill position players of note, however they didn't miss a beat in Week 1. I'm not going to put too much stock into that drubbing, but it doesn't exactly make me feel great about playing the Bees in a few weeks. Hopefully their mid-term exams take a toll on them.

Finally, we had the Labor Day special where the #1 Buckeyes traveled to Blacksburg, VA. The Hokies took a pop to the jaw falling down 0-14, but bounced back with a 17-0 second quarter to enter halftime with a three point lead. They deserve a ton of credit for that toughness. Of course, things didn't go their way in the second half. The lead quickly disappeared and starting QB Michael Brewer broke his collarbone (4-8 weeks). They would be moving up the Power Rankings after a respectable performance, but without Brewer their offense didn't look as potent. They play Miami in five weeks. If they can pick-up that big road win, they'll have an excellent shot to win the Coastal. Amazingly, GT and VT have won 10/11 Coastal Championships and could continue that run this year as both are very much in the race.