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ACC Power Rankings - Week 9

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Nobody can catch Clemson, Boston College Wins, and the ACC is looking weak.

NCAA Football: Boston College at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The headlining act for the ACC this weekend didn’t disappoint as Clemson solidified its place amongst the nations best with a hard faught road win in Florida State. Unfortunately, the rest of the week showed the weaknesses of the rest of the conference. Boston College picked up its first conference win in almost two years, and we have teams that just aren’t that good breaking into the top half of the standings. We have some shake up’s in this weeks standings so be sure to sound off in the comments below and let us know where you think the ACC teams should be standing at the end of 9 weeks.

#1 Clemson Tigers (8-0, 5-0) Last Week – W, @ #12 Florida State (37-34)

Movement from Week 8 – (No Change)

The Cardiac Cat’s strike again. After allowing Dalvin Cook to absolutely take over the game and give the Noles a 4th quarter lead, Clemson did what Clemson does and came back to win on their last offensive drive. The win was Clemson’s record setting 9th consecutive road win and I think answered the common hypothetical question as to who you would want with the ball in the last 2 minutes of a game down a score. The answer is Deshaun Watson. Say what you want about the lack of dominant performances in the Tiger’s wins this season, the bottom line is they know how to win, which I will take over any tangible skill. The one glaring issue that came out of Saturday nights slugfest was Clemson’s secondary. The Tiger’s just aren’t that good in coverage. Nobody in the secondary was able to locate the ball all night. Will be something to keep an eye on against the pass happy Syracuse attack next week.

#2 Louisville Cardinals (7-1, 5-1) Last Week – W, @ Virginia (32-25)

Movement from Week 8 – (No Change)

I took two things away from this weeks game. The positive first, it was the 2nd time this year the Louisville offense went down the field on the final drive to win a game. The first, their loss against Clemson where they came up a yard short in the red zone, and the second, this Saturday on Jackson’s game winning touchdown pass with 13 seconds remaining. No matter the opponent, driving down the field to win the game in the final minute is the sign of a winner. The second issue was that this game raised a question for me as to whether Louisville can perform on the road. After an underwhelming half at Syracuse, their only loss at Clemson and a disappointing performance in Charlottesville, can the Cardinals thrive away from Papa John’s stadium? The true test will be when they travel to Houston on 11/17.

#3 North Carolina Tar Heels (6-2, 4-1) Last Week - Idle

Movement from Week 8 - (No Change)

Unless the unthinkable happens (which does happen a lot in the latter part of the college football season) North Carolina will be watching the ACC Championship Game from home. That being said, I still think that they are the best team in the ACC Coastal Division. North Carolina has finished the brutal part of their schedule which included 4 straight against Pittsburgh, @ Florida State, Virginia Tech and @ Miami. They finished the stretch 3-1 with the only loss coming in the Hurricane Matthew debacle against the Hokies. Of course we have no idea what that matchup would have looked like on dry ground, and it is a shame that we won’t get to see it. UNC needs to throttle their remaining opponents to keep this spot, but they are still on top of the Coastal in my eyes.

#4 Virginia Tech Hokies (6-2, 4-1) Last Week – W, @ Pittsburgh (39-36)

Movement from Week 8 - (+2)

The ACC Coastal needs a team to emerge as a leader and national contender and they need it quick. I don’t think that Virginia Tech is that team, but it looks like they are going to represent the conference in the ACC Championship Game if they take care of business down the stretch. They aren’t flashy, but they play Fuentes football and Jerod Evans has been relatively mistake free as he put up huge passing numbers on Thursday night against Pittsburgh. Virginia Tech can spread the ball around, as they had three receivers go over 100 yards in the same game for the first time in school history. Much like Clemson, their wins aren’t flashy, and they have proved to us that they can lay an egg on occasion, but all they have to do is win baby, win.

#5 Florida State Seminoles (5-3 2-3) Last Week – L, @ #3 Clemson (37-34)

Movement from Week 8 – (-1)

Call me biased, but I typically don’t include the words ‘Florida State’ and ‘respect’ in the same sentence. Their fans showed it on Saturday night with their constant “#!@$ you Clemson” chants for four quarters. But after Saturday night, I have NOTHING but respect for both Dalvin Cook and Deondre Francois. Dalvin Cook proved to me that he is the best running back in the country, scoring 4 touchdowns and making the stingy Tiger defense look silly. Francois didn’t put up pretty numbers finishing 17-of-35 with a touchdown and interception, but continued to pick himself up off the turf after continued pulverizing hits. If this team had an offensive line, they would have the potential to be the best in the country, but that is for FSU to figure out for themselves.

#6 Pittsburgh Panthers (5-3, 2-2) Last Week – L, vs. #25 Virginia Tech (39-36)

Movement from Week 8 - (-1)

I really don’t know what the Panther coaching staff was thinking this week…Not only is the Pittsburgh Panthers secondary the worst in the ACC, it may be the worst in the country. The coaching staff knows this, heck, everybody knows this. So why in the world would your game plan be to play press coverage against Virginia Tech and Jerod Evans who makes so few mistakes? The result was 406 yards in passing for Evans and another close loss for the Panthers. It is a season of what could have been for the Panthers. Their three losses this year have all by a Touchdown or less and against quality teams. They just couldn’t finish games or make up for that horrible secondary.

#7 – Syracuse Orange (4-4, 2-2) Last Week - Idle

Movement from Week 8 - (+3)

So it’s come to this…Syracuse…at #7 in the ACC Power Rankings…What does that say about the depth of the bottom half of this conference? It says a lot. I had to think long and hard about this one, but there is one thing that the Orange have that no other team below them on this list has, and that is a signature win. I’m not going to sit here and try to justify Syracuse as an above average football team to you, because I respect your intelligence, but the win over the Hokies has me unwilling to move any other team over them. The rest of their schedule is brutal so I don’t expect them to stay here, but as of right NOW, they are #7.

#8 Miami Hurricanes (4-4, 1-3) Last Week – L, @ Notre Dame (30-27)

Movement from Week 8 - (+1)

This is another team that is just way to high in these standings, but again, there is just nobody below them that I think deserves to be higher. I respect the furious comeback after falling behind 20-0 in the 2nd quarter, they scored 27 unanswered to take the lead, but just like the rest of the season, the Canes can’t put 4 quarters together. Miami has lost 4 straight and there only chance at a respectable win comes next week at home against Pitt. With their best win of the season against Georgia Tech, they don’t deserve to be #8, but they are here for now. It may be a struggle for the Canes to become bowl eligible.

#9 Virginia Cavaliers (2-6, 1-3) Last Week – L, vs. #5 Louisville (32-25)

Movement from Week 8 – (+2)

I toyed with the idea of moving the Cavaliers up even higher after their performance against Louisville, but their record just doesn’t merit a higher ranking. Bottom line is, I like watching this football team, and I like their head coach. Bronco Mendenhall has brought a toughness to this football team that I haven’t seen in my lifetime. I LOVE the call to go for two and send the message to your team that you are on the field to win the game. Although I love their attitudes, and they have played good teams close, with only wins over Duke and Central Michigan, they just don’t justify a higher ranking than 9th.

#10 – Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-3, 3-2) Last Week – L, vs. Army (21-13)

Movement from Week 8 - (-3)

We’ve all had those dreams where we wake up and just want to go right back to sleep. The city of Winston-Salem just collectively woke up on Saturday, and tried to go right back to sleep. Talk about a let down, Wake Forest was all set to celebrate as they would become bowl eligible in what was expected to be a rebuilding year, but laid an egg against Army. They were forced to change their game plan, asking Wolford to throw the ball 43 times in the loss. I have had fun watching this team, but I think this performance may be a better picture of who they really are as opposed to their earlier wins this season.

#11 – Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-3, 2-3) - Last Week - W, vs. Duke (38-35)

Movement from Week 8 - (+2)

If you are looking for the surest bet in College Football, put some money on Georgia Tech scoring between 34 and 38 points. Saturday marks the 5th time this season that Tech has put up those exact numbers. I’m not sure that I have given the Yellow Jackets enough credit this year for their offensive consistency. They don’t have a quality win, which is why they are so low in the rankings, but they do have a chance to pick one up a couple with a tough schedule to end the season. Although ranked all the way at #11, Georgia Tech is quietly putting together a chance to play in a bowl game.

#12 – Duke Blue Devils (3-5, 0-4) Last Week – L, @ Georgia Tech (38-35)

Movement from Week 8 - (No Change)

Oh Duke, not even the genius of David Cutcliffe can save you now. You can never say never, but Saturday looked to be Duke’s last chance at getting an ACC win this season. Adding insult to injury, Duke’s top running back Jela Duncan managed to tear his Achilles tendon while celebrating a touchdown that will sideline him for the remainder of the season. With last season’s top rusher Thomas Sirk gone, and now Duncan, teams will be begging the Blue Devils to try and run the ball. You are going to see plenty of 3 and 4 man rushes against Duke in the future.

#13 –Boston College Eagles (4-4, 1-4) Last Week – W, @ NC State (21-14)

Movement from Week 8 - (+1)

It’s over! The Eagles ACC losing streak has ended at 12 as they went into Raleigh and took care of the Wolfpack the way that every team desperate for a win should do, with trick plays! Boston College had a receiver run for a touchdown and a running back throw a touchdown pass as they managed to take the lead for good with under 5 minutes remaining. Boston College has shown some growth in the last 2 weeks and here is something to think about, with Connecticut and Wake Forest still on the schedule, a win in those two games will send the Eagles BOWLING!

#14 – NC State Wolfpack (4-4, 1-4) Last Week – L, vs. Boston College (21-14)

Movement from Week 8 - (-1)

Raleigh is in absolute shambles. After a promising start, North Carolina States season went wide right in Clemson and just kept right on going. Losses on the road to Clemson and Louisville are expected, but with the other two losses coming at East Carolina and at home against a team that hasn’t won an ACC game in over a year, it is hard for me to believe that this team will win another game. They have easily been the most inconsistent team in the league this year, although that is tough to say because their wins aren’t that impressive either.