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ACC Power Rankings: Week 6

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Miami and Florida State churn out another classic, Duke proves to be a flash in the pan and is that Virginia threatening the ACC Coastal? All this and more in this weeks ACC Power Rankings.

NCAA Football: Duke at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week 6 of Shakin the Southlands weekly ACC Power Rankings. We see something in this weeks rankings that I believe will be a trend for the rest of the season as the top half of the rankings (Spoiler Alert) didn’t move at all. Miami came out on top of yet another classic against the Seminoles, NC State showed us that they are for real with a ranked win, and Duke has officially fallen off the face of the earth. Be sure to sound of in the comments below and, as always, enjoy.

#1 Clemson (6-0) (4-0) – Last Week – W, 28-14 vs. Wake Forest

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

It may not have been the prettiest victory, but it was business as usual for the Tigers in Week #6. Clemson scored on its first two drives of the ballgame, and that was all they needed as the defense held the Demon Deacon’s scoreless until late in the 4th quarter. The victory did come at a cost though as Quarterback Kelly Bryant was forced to leave the game in the third quarter after injuring his ankle on a quarterback run, and came up limping on another quarterback run late in the 1st quarter. In his absence, Zerrick Cooper completed 2-of-6 passes and looked unimpressive before Freshman Hunter Johnson entered the game and completed all 5 of his pass attempts leading the Tigers to their fourth touchdown on the afternoon. The Tigers are preparing for a Friday night battle with Syracuse under the assumption that Bryant will be ready to go, but if not, they will have to change their offensive game plan drastically, which is pretty heavily tailored towards Bryant’s running ability.

#2 Miami (4-0) (2-0) – Last Week – W, 24-20 @ Florida State

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Miami finally has a solid win on their resume, which cements them into the number two slot in the power rankings, until somebody takes it from them. This was another ugly game in the ACC this week, but Miami managed to take down Florida State for their first time in their last eight tries, and did it in come-from-behind fashion as QB Malik Rosier led Miami 75-yards down the field with only 1:26 remaining. Rosier wasn’t spectacular on the day, completing only 19 of his 44 pass attempts, but did throw for three passing touchdowns to only one interception. What Miami does need to be concerned about is the health of Mark Walton. Walton rushed 12 times on the afternoon averaging under 2.1 yards per carry and his ankle clearly hampered his ability to run to the left side. Miami will host Georgia Tech this weekend in a game that will have major ACC Championship implications, and may have to rely on the arm of Rosier a lot more than they expected.

#3 Virginia Tech (5-1) (1-1) – Last Week – W, 23-10 @ Boston College

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

A game against Boston College is usually just what the doctor orders after coming back from a tough loss at home. For the first time this season, Virginia Tech came out of the tunnel and put their foot on the gas to score some points, and carried a 17-3 lead into the locker room at halftime. Josh Jackson was good on the afternoon, completing 22-of-33 passes for 322 yards and a touchdown, but the real story was the Virginia Tech defenses ability to get off the field, as Boston College was only 2-of-15 in converting third downs on the afternoon. Virginia Tech will host the Carolina school’s in their next two contests, and should enter their November 4th showdown with the Miami Hurricanes at 7-1.

#4 North Carolina State (5-1) (3-0) – Last Week – W, 39-25 vs. Louisville

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Well, I didn’t think that I would ever admit it, but NC State is for real, as they are off to their first 3-0 start in the ACC since the 2002 season. Ryan Finely continues to be the best quarterback in the ACC, as he completed 20 of his 31 pass attempts for 367 yards and again, went without an Interception. (He has now gone 223 pass attempts on the year without throwing a pick) The scariest part about this game as the balance by the Wolfpack which featured a 100-yard rusher in Nyheim Hines, and two 100-yard receivers in Kelvin Harmon and Jaylen Samuels, with Stephen Louis nipping on their heels with 99-yards. The defense was spectacular again, led by Bradley Chubb, which held Lamar Jackson to under 100-yards on the ground, but did allow 470 yards on the day. We’ll see if NC State can avoid looking ahead as they head to Pittsburgh for homecoming before their upcoming matchups against #16 Notre Dame and #2 Clemson.

#5 Georgia Tech (3-1) (2-0) – Last Week – Idle

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Georgia Tech was idle this week and it comes at just the right time as it gives them an extra week to prepare for the ACC Coastal leading Miami Hurricanes. I’v been begging for a middle of the pack team to step up, and I still believe that Georgia Tech is that team, so much so, that I think Georgia Tech goes down to Coral Gables this weekend and beats the Hurricanes. Of course, we all know how my predictions go, so let’s sit back and enjoy this one, which will play a key role in who comes out of the ACC Coastal this season.

#6 Florida State (1-3) (1-2) – Last Week – L, 24-20 vs. #13 Miami

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Florida States offense was completely stagnant for a majority of this game and Freshman QB James Blackmon showed his age in throwing a couple of bad INT’s on the day, but did lead the Noles down the field to take the lead late in the 4th quarter. Blackmon is just inconsistent right now as he will make what looks to be an NFL throw, and then fail to hit a wide-open receiver, which is seriously hampering Florida State. The reason FSU doesn’t drop in this week’s rankings is the emergence of Freshman Running Back Cam Akers, who had his best day as a Seminole BY FAR, carrying the ball 20 times and amassing 121 total yards. Akers, combined with Junior Jacques Patrick, will give a lot of teams in the ACC fits, and I look for Jimbo Fischer to become increasingly run reliant as the season progresses.

#7 Louisville (4-2) (1-2) – Last Week – L, 39-25 @ #24 NC State

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

I think you can officially close the book on Louisville this season, as the only question that appears left to answer is just how far will they fall in the face of adversity. Even with Lamar Jackson still putting up video game numbers, who knew that the departure of Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham to Mississippi State would have such an impact on the Cardinals? Even when they managed to turn the ball over just one time on the afternoon (which is a HUGE improvement for them) the defense was gashed by Ryan Finely and the Wolfpack, giving up 520 yards on the afternoon and was unable to deal with the multiple weapons on the other side of the ball. Louisville has a chance to right the ship as they host Boston College this weekend, but we will see just how far they fall as they travel to Florida State and Wake Forest after that.

#8 Wake Forest (4-2) (1-2) – Last Week – L, 28-14 @ #2 Clemson

Movement from Last Week (+1)

You can’t take too much away from Wake Forest this week, after going into Death Valley without the services of starting quarterback and leading rusher John Wolford. That being said, Kendall Hinton is a more than capable backup, and showed his athletic prowess accounting for 301 yards on the day with his legs and arm. After the rough start on the first two possessions, the Deac’s defense calmed down, and managed to keep the Clemson offense out of the end zone until midway through the third quarter. It was a solid performance overall considering the circumstances, but with showdowns at Georgia Tech, vs. Louisville and at Notre Dame, I’m not expecting many wins out of Wake Forest in the upcoming weeks.

#9 Virginia (4-1) (1-0) – Last Week – W, 28-21 vs. Duke

Movement from Last Week (+2)

Last week, one of our commenters asked the very astute question as to what everyone’s thoughts were on Virginia stepping up and challenging for the ACC Coastal Division championship. I want to take a moment and make a couple of points that a) we have some darn smart readers, and b) some people may laugh at this, but this is a VERY real possibility with how Virginia has set up their schedule, with meetings against Miami and Virginia Tech scheduled for the last two games of the season. Virginia has a non-existent run game, and pretty much relies solely on QB Kurt Benkert, but what makes this week’s win against Duke so impressive was that Benkert played well below his standard, and the Hoo’s still managed to come out with a victory. Benkert threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and didn’t turn around until the second half when Virginia adjusted to the short passing game to take down Duke. Virginia is going to be right there in the ACC Coastal Division race as the season progresses.

#10 Duke (4-2) (1-2) – Last Week – L, 28-21 @ Virginia

Movement from Last Week (-2)

Duke’s Quarterback Daniel Jones has been on a seesaw since he stepped onto the Duke campus two years ago, and right now, he is at rock bottom. Jones was terrible against Virginia on Saturday as he completed only 14 of his 42 passes for only 124 yards and threw two interceptions on the day. This one is frustrating to me as the Duke defense is clearly for real as they lead the ACC in sacks and the nation in rush defense, but if Jones and the offense can’t provide more than 14 points against the Virginia defense, what are they going to do against the rest of the ACC? Duke has the ability to beat almost any team in the ACC, but with the inconsistencies showing up on offense at all the wrong times, I don’t think Duke will be a consistent threat for the remainder of the year. However, they will make for some nail-biting games later in the season, particularly when they travel to Virginia Tech on the 28th of October.

#11 Syracuse (3-3) (1-1) – Last Week – W, 27-24 vs. Pittsburgh

Movement from Last Week (-1)

Look, it was against a bad team, but Syracuse showed us some guts this week as Eric Dungey was able to take his team from behind and ice the game late against a team that they haven’t beaten in five years. Not only that, but Syracuse finally had someone who’s last name isn’t Dungey rush for more than 50 yards in a game as Dontae Strickland managed 80 yards on 25 carries on the afternoon. Syracuse’s remaining schedule is absolutely BRUTAL with contests against Clemson, Miami, Florida State, Wake Forest and Louisville, so we will see just how much weight Eric Dungey can put on his shoulders as he tries to carry the Orange to some upset victories.

#12 – Boston College (2-4) (0-3) – Last Week – L, 23-10 vs. #16 Virginia Tech

Movement from Last Week (+1)

I know that he is a freshman, and the alternatives aren’t much better, but I think that you have to consider going away from Anthony Brown at quarterback. The funny thing is, that statement has almost nothing to do with the play of Brown, and has everything to do with the play of the people around him. Boston College needs a spark on offense, and in a big way, and a change of the quarterback is at least something to consider, right? Brown led the stagnant offense in passing, rushing (51 yards) and my goodness, he was only 23 yards away from leading them in RECEIVING as well, as he caught BC’s only touchdown on the afternoon. The Quarterback may have very little to do with the offensive woes in Chestnut Hill, but you have to do something, ANYTHING, to make these games watchable.

#13 Pittsburgh (2-4) (0-2) – Last Week – L, 27-24 @ Syracuse

Movement from Last Week (-1)

I’m at the point where it physically hurts me to watch this football team. Pittsburgh has reached rock bottom, as they dropped their weekend contest against a Syracuse team which they had beaten 11 of the previous 12 matchups. The Pittsburgh offense was, again, anemic as they were only 3-of-13 on their third down conversions, and didn’t complete their first conversion until halfway through the fourth quarter. The Quarterback carousel may have paused for the moment, as Max Browne left the contest in the third quarter with an arm injury and will miss a couple of weeks, leaving the job for Ben Dinucci. Pittsburgh’s schedule doesn’t get any easier from here on out with a showdown against NC State looming and Virginia Tech and Miami to end the season.

#14 North Carolina (1-5) (0-3) – Last Week – L, 33-10 vs. #21 Notre Dame

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Just another loss in what I expect to be a long string of losses for the Tar Heels. Notre Dame is a solid team, but this game wasn’t even as close as the 33-10 score indicated. Chazz Surratt has his worst game of the season, completing only 19 of his 42 pass attempts for 179 yards, and threw an Interception. Surratt was also the team’s leading rusher with only 32 yards on the ground. To add to the woes on the day, North Carolina got only 13 first downs on the afternoon, and turned the ball over three times, including two fumbles. The defense wasn’t much better, allowing 487 total yards, and 27 first downs, despite coming away with two turnovers of their own. UNC will have to earn some respect as they host the upstart Cavaliers this week, in one of their few remaining winnable games.