10 weeks are in the book in the ACC, and it looks like we have a consensus over who the best five teams in the conference are, and the order that they are in as once again the top five teams remain unchanged. The same cannot be said for the bottom of the conference as teams flip flop on a weekly basis with unexpected and weak performances. Miami finally got their signature win in their blowout of Pittsburgh, Wake Forest is bowl eligible for the first time since 2011 and surprise, surprise, I still have no idea what to do with North Carolina State. Be sure to sound of in the comments below and let me know what you think about another bottom half shuffle and where you think the ACC stands after 10 weeks of play.
#1 Clemson Tigers (9-0, 6-0) Last Week – W, vs. Syracuse (54-0)
Movement from Week 9 – (No Change)
Clemson has received criticism from analysts throughout the entire country about their lack of dominant performances, but I think this qualifies. Coach Dino Babbers of Syracuse noted all week that winning at Clemson was a long shot, and boy was he right. Clemson outgained the fast paced Syracuse offense 565 yards to 277 in a game that was never in jeopardy. Syracuse did lose Eric Dungey early forcing them to play an inexperience quarterback, but even with Dungey, Cuse just had no chance. Clemson played nearly perfect football. Watson looked like the old Watson hitting on his deep throws and showed pinpoint accuracy. Clemson fans collectively held their breath when Watson exited the game in the second quarter holding his throwing shoulder, but reports out of the Clemson camp are positive. Clemson may toy with the idea of resting Watson and giving backup Nick Schuessler more snaps this week in a game that they are expected to win against Pittsburgh. DON’T. Like most opponents on their schedule already, Clemson will get Pittsburgh’s best shot on Saturday. Don’t let a decision like this put a winnable game in jeopardy.
#2 Louisville Cardinals (8-1, 6-1) Last Week – W, @ Boston College (52-7)
Movement from Week 9 – (No Change)
We get it. Lamar Jackson is good. Really good. Jackson tallied 7 touchdowns Satruday (4 throwing and 3 on the ground) and is now responsible for 45 on the season which is currently ahead of the record setting pace of Colt Brennan in 2006. We didn’t expect much of a game in this one, and we didn’t get much of one with Louisville up 38-0 at the half, even with Lamar Jackson temporarily on the bench with a cramping problem. More importantly for Louisville at this point, I see them with a clear route to the College Football Playoff, currently ranked 6th with #5 and #3 still to play each other, and Washington will be tested down the stretch. I said it in week 6 and I’ll say it again, if Louisville runs the table (which they should do) I think they are in.
#3 North Carolina Tar Heels (7-2, 5-1) Last Week – W, vs. Georgia Tech (48-20)
Movement from Week 9 - (No Change)
We’ve all thought just how dangerous this Tar Heel offense could be if Elijah Hood would finally return to full health and show the brutal running style that he portrayed in his first two seasons with the Tar Heels. We now don’t have to imagine that result as Hood ripped apart the Yellow Jacket defense for 168 yards and three touchdowns as the Tar Heels thumped the Jackets on Sunday. A few of you commenters told me to take my foot off the pedal in praising the Tar Heel defense a couple of weeks ago and bravo to you! The Carolina defense got shredded by the triple-option attack for a total of 518 yards and allowed Justin Thomas to throw for 184 yards. I am still high on the Tar Heels and think that they are the clear cut best team in the Coastal Division, but they are an entire defense away from being respected nationally.
#4 Virginia Tech Hokies (7-2, 5-1) Last Week – W, @ Duke (24-21)
Movement from Week - (No Change)
A win is a win is a win, but I’m still not buying the Hokies after an average performance in Durham on Saturday. Aside from the Special Teams which resulted in the go-ahead touchdown for the Hokies in the form of a 75 yard kick six courtesy of Adonis Alexander, nothing about this Hokie performance impressed me. Jerod Evans completed only 15-of-27 passes for 192 yards with no touchdowns, but didn’t turn the ball over and added a rushing touchdown. Nobody on the offensive side of the ball passed the century mark for Virginia Tech and it leaves me with the feeling that Virginia Tech may not be able to pull way from inferior talent. That being said, they keep winning and the road to the ACC Championship game still travels through Blacksburg. With a favorable schedule remaining against Georgia Tech and Virginia, I expect the Hokies to win out and represent the Coastal, but I’m still cautious about the talent on this team.
#5 Florida State Seminoles (6-3 3-3) Last Week – W, @ NC State (24-20)
Movement from Week 9 – (No Change)
I think we can officially call this the “Post-Clemson hangover”. Teams that have left their all on the field against Clemson this year just don’t seem to perform the week after. See Louisville's below average performance at Duke, North Carolina State’s poor excuse for a game at Louisville, and now Florida State coming back and barely winning in Raleigh. Florida State sleep walked into Raleigh and it showed as they trailed the entire contest until Francois hit Travis Rudolph for the go-ahead touchdown with 3:09 remaining to seal the victory. Florida State is banged up, especially on the defensive side of the ball as they are currently missing three safeties. With not much left to play for as they are eliminated from ACC Atlantic contention, the performance of the Noles in the remaining two weeks will say a lot about the control that Jimbo Fischer has on this program.
#6 Miami Hurricanes (5-4, 2-3) Last Week – W, vs. Pittsburgh (51-28)
Movement from Week 9 - (+2)
This was it for the Canes…Their absolute last shot at having a respectable win for the rest of the season. I had Miami as heavy favorites in this game. I mean, give me Brad Kaaya against that dismal Pittsburgh secondary any day of the week. Then the weather decided to rear its ugly head in favor of the Panthers, and I was second guessing my pick in this one. Kaaya and the Canes had other ideas. Kaaya dropped 356 yards and four touchdown passes on the helpless Panther defense. Is #6 to high for the Canes who have only 1 quality win on their schedule this season? I think it is, but I see no team in the rankings below that deserve to jump the Canes. I think this may be the slot where they sit for the rest of the year.
#7 – Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-3, 3-2) Last Week – W, vs. Virginia (27-20)
Movement from Week 9 - (+3)
Time to dance in Winston-Salem! The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are bowl eligible for the first time since 2011 as they secured a late come from behind victory over the Virginia Cavaliers this week. There was no doubt as to what Wake Forest’s game plan was this week, as quarterback John Wolford didn’t even attempt a pass in the first quarter, and it was ultimately his legs that grabbed the momentum for the Deacs with a 64 yard dash for a touchdown. The Deacon defense put the game away with two interceptions in the 4th quarter. If you told me at the beginning of the year that Wake Forest would be 6-3 at this point, I would have laughed at you. As usual, the joke is on me. Food for thought, other than Louisville, Wake Forest is the only other team still alive in the hunt for the ACC Atlantic crown.
#8 Pittsburgh Panthers (5-4, 2-3) Last Week – L, @ Miami (51-28)
Movement from Week 9 - (-2)
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Despite their lousy secondary, all of the Panther losses this year have been by 1 score or less and to talented teams, but Pitt simply got their doors blown off in Miami on Saturday. I expected the drizzle to give Pitt a bit of an edge as it may have thrown Brad Kaaya off of his game, but this week it was the front seven’s turn not to show up as they managed to sack Kaaya only once and made a quarterback who is not mobile look like Steve Young. Playing from behind doesn’t help, but Pitt managed just 130 yards rushing and no player, including James Conner ended with more than 40. Coughing up the ball twice in the second half didn’t help as the Panthers are finally gone for good from the top half of these rankings.
#9 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-4, 2-4) Last Week – L, @ #21 North Carolina (48-20)
Movement from Week 9 – (+2)
I have several revelations (if we can call them that) each week when I put together these rankings, and the main takeaway that I have this week is, maybe I have been a little too harsh on the Yellow Jackets all season in my Power Rankings. They aren’t flashy, and can be hard to watch sometimes, but of their 4 losses three come against top 25 teams and the 4th on the road in Pittsburgh. It would be interesting to see this team if they could ever jump to an early lead, but after falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter, we knew that the Yellow Jacket offense just didn’t have the fire power to come back, although they did put up impressive numbers against the dismal UNC defense. Sorry Tech fans, that schedule doesn’t get any easier with road trips to Virginia Tech and rival Georgia needing just one more win to become bowl eligible.
#10 – Virginia Cavaliers (2-7, 1-4) Last Week – L, @ Wake Forest (27-20)
Movement from Week 9 - (-1)
Lets call this one a missed opportunity for the Cavaliers. Virginia had Wake Forest on the ropes all night but couldn’t finish the deal again, and tossed the game right to the Deacs with two fourth quarter interceptions, including one that was returned 65 yards for the game winning touchdown with under 7 minutes remaining. The loss clinched the fifth consecutive losing season for Virginia, but this program does look to be heading in the right direction under Bronco Mendenhall.
#11 – Syracuse Orange (4-5, 2-3) - Last Week - L, @ #2 Clemson (54-0)
Movement from Week 9 - (-4)
Dino Babers asked for a slingshot to pull of a David vs. Goliath like upset in Clemson this week and instead he was handed a pea-shooter. It may not be exactly fair to judge the Orange on this game as they lost Eric Dungey to injury early in the contest, but this was the most lopsided talent gap in the ACC this week. Without Dungey, Syracuse put up season lows in total yards (277) and points and looked completely unenthused to be on the same field as the Tigers. 2 straight wins for Syracuse has the program feeling good about themselves, but games like this show you just how quickly that feeling can fade as Syracuse falls the hardest in this weeks rankings.
#12 – NC State Wolfpack (4-5, 1-4) Last Week – L, vs. #22 Florida State (24-20)
Movement from Week 9 - (+2)
I never know what to do with this damn team…mainly because I have no idea which team is going to show up on the field every Saturday. After doing the unthinkable and dropping a game to Boston College, the Wolfpack had a signature win against Florida State in their grasp, only to let it slip away. It was right in their hands as Shawn Boone dropped an interception in the end zone one play before Florida State took its first lead of the game. With the dismal performance that the Wolfpack put up a week after emptying the tank against Clemson, NC State may be heading back down to the bottom of the Power Rankings if history repeats itself next week at Syracuse.
#13 –Duke Blue Devils (3-6, 0-5) Last Week – L, vs. #19 Virginia Tech (24-21)
Movement from Week 9 – (-1)
With early losses to Wake Forest and Virginia and a brutal second half ACC schedule, we all expected the Dukies to be this year’s winless ACC program. Combine that with injuries, and I didn’t expect Duke to come out and put up the performance that they did against Virginia Tech. Daniel Jones kept the Blue Devils in the game with his legs in the red zone with short runs to cut the lead to a Touchdown and 3 points in the 4th quarter, but Duke couldn’t get the offense going enough late to give them a chance to win. The rest of Duke’s schedule looks like solid losses, but you never know what is going to happen when Duke gets together with UNC like they will next week.
#14 – Boston College Eagles (4-5, 1-5) Last Week – L, vs. #7 Louisville (52-7)
Movement from Week 9 - (-1)
Was I expecting a Boston College win against the seventh ranked Cardinals? No…But I was expecting more than that. After finally climbing out of the cellar of the ACC Power Rankings with their first ACC win in almost two years, the Eagles find themselves right back down at the bottom after an unenthused performance. The Eagles still clearly don’t have a QB as Towles was poor with an ESPN quarterback rating of only 32.0, and no running back for the Eagles was able to surpass 40 yards. Boston College better get their heads back on straight and see if they can capture some momentum as they head to Tallahassee to take on the Noles.