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ACC Power Rankings - Week 8

6 teams rest, punches are thrown and Miami is out of time.

NCAA Football: Miami at Virginia Tech Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC decided to take a well deserved collective day off as 6 of the teams were Idle this week. As a result, the Top 4 and Bottom 4 slots of our Week 8 Power Rankings remain unchanged. But oh man did we just shake up the middle of the pack! Miami still can’t beat anybody and the best thing thrown from a Boston College player in their game this week looked like a punch. Things are getting interesting in the middle of the pack and there are some extremely large talent gaps developing between the teams in this conference. Sound off in the comments below and enjoy our Power Rankings for Week #8!

#1 Clemson Tigers (7-0, 4-0) Last Week - Idle

Movement from Week 7 - (No Change)

The bye week could not have come at a better time for the Tigers. They are nursing injuries to key players Wayne Gallman and Hunter Renfrow, but it also gives Austin Bryant another week to get back into the flow of things after his season debut against NC State. It also gives Clemson the chance to go back to the basics in practice, and by that we mean ball control. Clemson is amongst the worst in the conference in turnovers, a statistic that hasn’t cost them a game yet, but very well could in Tallahassee. I’m concerned about the health of Gallman. All we have heard out of Tiger Town this week was that he is fine and expected to play, but that just doesn’t match up with his description of the injury of “falling asleep” and waking up in the locker room. Keep a close eye on Gallman as I expect to see Watson run more often and some plays we haven’t seen before this weekend in Tallahassee.

#2 Louisville Cardinals (6-1, 4-1) Last Week – W, vs. NC State (54-13)

Movement from Week 7 - (No Change)

Louisville did what good teams do this week after a lackluster performance against Duke as they pounded the guts out of the Wolfpack. This one was never close as Louisville took a 44-0 lead into the half before taking their foot off the pedal. They also confirmed something that was in doubt last week, Louisville isn’t going to lose at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Louisville has outscored opponents 211-61 in their own stadium. There is no mistake, after the #2 slot in our Power Rankings, there is a HUGE gap between the rest of the squads in the ACC. I’ll say it again, if Louisville wins out, combined with the havoc that happens every year in college football, I see them in the CFP.

#3 North Carolina Tar Heels (6-2, 4-1) Last Week - W, @ Virginia (35-14)

Movement from Week 7 - (No Change)

You may have noticed from previous Power Rankings that I put a lot of emphasis on how a team performs when they play on the road. North Carolina passes the road test with flying colors as their win over Virginia on Saturday marks the heels 9th consecutive road win. This game had a little bit of everything, including multiple trick plays for touchdowns, but this is the 2nd week in a row where the North Carolina defense has shown significant improvement. If you combine a defense getting their act together with that offense, this team is a scary matchup.

#4 Florida State Seminoles (5-2, 2-2) Last Week - Idle

Movement from Week 7 - (No Change)

Florida State has too much talent for me to believe that their play in the past two games is a full representation of this team. Dalvin Cook and Travis Randolph are a threat to score on literally every offensive play, so why aren’t the Seminoles putty up more gaudy offensive numbers? I have been critical of Deondre Francois in previous Power Rankings, but after studying up on the Noles, I’m taking a 180 on that stance. Francois just doesn’t have enough time to make plays. If Florida State can hold up on the offensive line, they can score on chunk plays. Be sure to watch out for those plays on Saturday night as they will need 2 or 3 in order to take down the Tigers.

#5 Pittsburgh Panthers (5-2, 2-1) Last Week - Idle

Movement from Week 7 – (+2)

Right here is another gigantic gap in talent between Florida State at #4 and Pittsburgh at #5. Pittsburgh may be slightly above average, but in the crowded ACC Coastal, that can get you into the ACC Championship Game. Head coach Pat Narduzzi said it best when he said that “every game is a must win from now on” and he is right. With a loss to UNC, Pittsburgh basically has to win out to get to the ACCCG. The Panther offense is putting up way better numbers than I have expected, scoring more than 35 points in their last 6 games, but the only teams that they have held under 30 this year are Villanova and Marshall. They get a chance to stake a claim at the top with a Thursday night tilt with Virginia Tech, but I just don’t trust this defense.

#6 Virginia Tech Hokies (5-2, 3-1) Last Week – W, vs. Miami (37-16)

Movement from Week 7 - (+2)

Finally, another team that actually played this week…Virginia Tech was able to rebound from an absolutely embarrassing performance against Syracuse last week by controlling the game against Miami. Miami got within a score in the third quarter, but this was one of those games that I felt Miami never really had a chance to win despite the third quarter scare. Evans continues to impress me as he continues to just not make many mistakes. Evans has thrown 19 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions. Virginia Tech couldn’t hang onto the ball in the first couple of games of the season, but they are a true testament to just what you can accomplish if you can hang onto the ball. (Pay attention Clemson)

#7 – Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-2, 2-2) Last Week - Idle

Movement from Week 7 - (+3)

Wake Forest has a chance to become bowl eligible this week going up against Army, and it has been the same old song and dance all season for the Demon Deacons, win the game with your defense on the field. Wake Forest is ranked 16th in the country in points given up per game, but with only 2331 yards of total offense this season, they rank 122 out of 128 teams in total offense. The defense is one of the best in the conference and they have some winnable games coming up on their schedule, but that offense doesn’t have many of the other teams in the conference worried.

#8 NC State Wolfpack (4-3, 1-2) Last Week – L, @ #5 Louisville (54-13)

Movement from Week 7 - (-3)

Woof…no pun intended. (pun intended) The Pack left everything on the field a week ago at Clemson, but they forgot to pick it back up after the game as they were absolutely WAXED by Louisville this week. I was complimentary of the Wolf Pack, and for good reasons, after their performance in the week before, but this weeks performance was one that you expect from a bad team. Lets put it this way, the yardage after 1 quarter of play was 244 to -1. Yes, that is a negative one. State was sloppy all day long turning the ball over 3 times and had 6 penalties (most of them drive killing) leading to only 9 first downs. We’ll see how they respond, but their best plays may still be on the field in Death Valley.

#9 Miami Hurricanes (4-3, 1-3) Last Week – L, @ Virginia Tech (37-16)

Movement from Week 7 – (-3)

Be gone Miami! At least I am not wrong about everything. Miami dropped their third straight game on Thursday night in Blacksburg and dumped all chances that they had at a respectable season. Miami went from being ranked 10th in the country with Playoff aspirations to me questioning whether they can become bowl eligible! They only have two more chances left on their schedule to get a win against a respectable opponent (this week @ Notre Dame (and that’s a stretch of the term respectable) and 11/5 against Pittsburgh) We will get to find out the true character of the Hurricanes this week as we see how they continue to react to adversity.

#10 - Syracuse (4-4, 2-2) Last Week – W, @ Boston College (28-20)

Movement from Week 7 - (-1)

Is Syracuse turning into just a gimmick offense? I guess the better question is just how good is Eric Dungey? Dungey ranks second in the nation in passing yards (trailing only Patrick Mahomes II of Texas Tech) but all leaders in that category play in “gimmick” offenses. (Texas Tech, La Tech, Cal & Washington State) After a signature victory against Virginia Tech, Syracuse took part in the worst game in a short handed ACC lineup this week. Lets just say the highlight of the game was a brawl that took place after a late hit from Dungey after an interception. I’m not sure that Syracuse wins any of the remaining games on their schedule, but they keep the 10th slot for now.

#11 – Virginia Cavaliers (2-5, 1-2) - Last Week - L, vs. #22 North Carolina (35-14)

Movement from Week 7 - (No Change)

Say what you want about the Cavs, but they are fun to watch, including one of the most creative trick plays that I have seen to get one of their two TD’s on the day. The only problem is that with the recent play of the offense, it may take many, many more creative trick plays for this team to get into the end zone. The last three halves have bee miserable for the Cavalier offense as they have only managed a trick play and garbage time TD. They now need to win 4-of their last-5 games to become bowl eligible. I expect to see some more trickery and misdirection from the Cavs in the future to pick up a stagnant offense.

#12 – Duke Blue Devils (3-4, 0-3) Last Week – Idle

Movement from Week 7 - (No Change)

The Blue Devils are still trying to come up with their identity, and I don’t blame them. It’s one thing to lose your top rusher and passer to graduation because you have time to prepare for it. But when you lose your top rusher and passer (Thomas Sirk) to injury before the season, with no time to prepare, you are going to struggle. Duke has been looking for someone to take the reigns, and I’m just not sure anybody on their roster is ready for that responsibility. Daniel Jones has been flashy, but has shown his youth with many inconsistent performances, and Jela Duncan isn’t good enough to carry the load on his own. The good news for the Dukies is that coach Cutcliffe will be sure to use this as a learning experience in order for his team to grow in the future.

#13 –Georgia Tech (4-3, 1-3) Last Week - Idle

Movement from Week 7 - (No Change)

The hardest part about writing these Power Rankings every week is trying to find new analysis of Georgia Tech. How many times can you look at the triple-option? I know that I am sick of looking at it. The problem with Tech’s triple option offense this season is they just aren’t gaining enough yards on the ground as they rank 26th in the country in total rushing yards. This may seem high, but it a particularly low ranking for a team that runs 95% of their offensive plays. We’ll continue to see more of the same and I’ll try to think of something different to write about it next week.

#14 – Boston College Eagles (3-4, 0-4) Last Week – L, vs. Syracuse (28-20)

Movement from Week 7 - (No Change)

A little better BC, a little better…but not enough to move you out of the basement because you still haven’t won an ACC game in a season and a half. BC was in the game all the way into the fourth quarter, but they just can’t close the deal, including an inexplicable dropped pass by a wide-open receiver that would have given BC the lead. BC will have to wait another week to get the monkey off of their back, and Steve Addazio’s clock continues to tick.

Dropped from this weeks Top 14 – Notre Dame.