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ACC Power Rankings: Week 7

Syracuse pulls the ultimate stunner, Miami performs another miracle, and Louisville may be a lot worse than we all thought.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week 7 of the Shakin the Southland ACC Power Rankings. I guess you can call this a typical week in the ACC as the Tigers fell to Syracuse, Miami pulled off yet another miracle to stay undefeated on the season, and Louisville proved to all of us that they might not even finish the season over .500 as they are in an absolute free fall. Take a look at how the ACC rounds out after 7 weeks and, as always, sound off in the comments below and enjoy!

#1 Clemson (6-1) (4-1) – Last Week – L, 27-24 @ Syracuse

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Let’s get one thing straight before I start off on the rant…Dabo Swinney and Brent Venables have more football knowledge in their pinky fingers than I do in my entire body, but I felt that they were both drastically out-coached on Friday night. Swinney should be ashamed of himself for continuing to trot quarterback Kelly Bryant out there, who was a sitting duck with almost no ability to even drop back to pass, and Venables refused to get out of the Nickle defense and bring pressure when Eric Dungey was picking him apart. That being said, Clemson was just outplayed in every aspect of the game on Friday. We can debate the play of Zerrick Cooper all day (please do in the comments below) but his inability to complete a pass more than 7 or 8 yards downfield doomed the Clemson offense for the remainder of the game. That being said, this may be the best thing that could have happened to this team, as they may have received their wake-up call that they need to enter the game with the same level of intensity as their opponents. Clemson keeps the number one spot over the undefeated Hurricanes due to the strength of their schedule, but this team looks incomplete at the moment and has a lot of work to do.

#2 Miami (5-0) (3-0) – Last Week – W, 25-24 vs. Georgia Tech

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Wow, what a game between two Coastal Division rivals this week down in Miami. With no Mark Walton, Miami looked like they were well on their way to their first loss of the season, but Darrell Langham didn’t allow it to happen as he caught a ball that was tipped twice to convert for a first down late in the 4th quarter to set up a game winning Miami field goal with 4 seconds remaining. Travis Homer filled in just fine for injured Mark Walton, rushing for 170 yards on the game and a touchdown, and added a receiving touchdown as well. Miami remains at number two this week despite the loss from Clemson solely due to the lack of a marquee win, but the gap between the Canes and the Tigers is now dangerously thin.

#3 Virginia Tech (5-1) (1-1) – Last Week – Idle

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

The gap between Miami and Clemson may be thin, but the gap between Virginia Tech and North Carolina State is razor thin at this point. In fact, the only thing keeping the Hokies at number three in our power rankings right now is their opening season victory over West Virginia and the fact that the Wolfpack’s victory over Louisville now looks a lot less impressive than before. It is likely that Virginia Tech will continue to be untested as they host both Duke and UNC in the upcoming weeks before their likely conference deciding showdown with Miami in early November.

#4 North Carolina State (6-1) (4-0) – Last Week – W, 35-17 @ Pittsburgh

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

I’m almost getting sick of typing it at this point, but we are 7 weeks into the season, and quarterback Ryan Finley has still yet to throw an interception, not on 248 pass attempts on the season. It may have been against a far inferior opponent, but the impressive part about the Wolfpack’s victory on the road at Pittsburgh this week was that Finley wasn’t his usual self under center. He completed only 14-of-25 pass attempts and was held below 200 yards on the afternoon. He was more than helped out by a strong NC State running game led by Nyheim Hines who carried the ball for 135 yards on 16 carries, and the jack-of-all trades Jaylen Samuels found himself in the end zone twice more on carries. NC State will take a rest this week and prep as they get set to travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame on the 28

#5 Georgia Tech (3-2) (2-1) – Last Week – L, 25-24 @ #11 Miami

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

This one had to hurt for Georgia Tech…After Brenton King converted on a 31-yard field goal with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter, I had penciled in the win for the Yellow Jackets, but a 15 play, 85-yard drive by the Hurricanes sealed the win and sent Georgia Tech to its second gut wrenching loss of the season. Georgia Tech only managed 281 yards of offense on the day and will be hampered by the loss of leading rusher KirVonte Benson who left the game with a lower body injury, and Tech managed to pick up the slack on special teams as they returned an onside kick 42-yards for a touchdown. I struggled with what to do with Georgia Tech this week. Yes, it was a bit of a miracle that led Miami to the victory, but they still allowed an 85-yard drive for the game winner despite the catch. That being said, I am keeping the Yellow Jackets put for now as they will have their chance to prove their worth as they have three teams left on their schedule that are currently ranked in the top 15.

#6 Florida State (2-3) (2-2) – Last Week – W, 17-10 @ Duke

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Florida State managed to pull out a victory on the road on Saturday in Duke, but the victory showed just how one sided the Seminoles have become. Florida State once again relied on the run game as Cam Akers led the way with 115 yards on 15 carries (including the game winning 42-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter) while Jacques Patrick added 98 yards of his own on 18 carries. Quarterback James Blackman was accurate, completing 18 of his 21 pass attempts, but his pass attempts were short and limited as he averaged only 9.4 yards per catch and threw two interceptions on the day. The Seminoles did manage to rack up 228 rushing yards against the excellent run defense of the Blue Devils, but the recipe is clear against Florida State at this point. Stack the box, and force the freshman quarterback to beat you with his arm. Florida State will host Louisville this weekend in an attempt to get their passing game back on track.

#7 Syracuse (4-3) (2-1) – Last Week – W, 27-24 vs. Clemson

Movement from Last Week (+4)

Football analyst Ryan Kantor warned us all week that Eric Dungey was a very good player, and that may have been an understatement. The Orange outplayed Clemson in every aspect of the game on Saturday, and Dino Babers completely outcoached Dabo Swinney. I was more than impressed with the pre-snap shifting from Syracuse that allowed the Orange 5 wide receiver sets to isolate their top wide receiver against Mark Fields, and despite an injury, Dungey was all that Syracuse needed to pull a massive upset. It may be a bit too high for the Orange at this point in the rankings, but with solid performances against NC State and LSU combined with the upset against Clemson, be on the lookout for Syracuse to put up a tightly contested contest against Miami this weekend.

#8 Wake Forest (4-2) (1-2) – Last Week – Idle

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

The news out of Winston-Salem was positive during the Demon Deacon’s bye week as it was reported that Quarterback John Wolford has been practicing all week, and is expected to play this weekend as Wake Forest travels to Georgia Tech. Wolford has been solid under center with 8 touchdowns to only 1 interception, and is the team’s leading rusher on the season with 332 yards, and is averaging 5 yards per carry. Wake is in the middle of a brutal stretch of their schedule with the upcoming contest at Georgia Tech, followed by Louisville before the Deacs hit the road again to travel to Notre Dame and Syracuse. They will need Wolford at 100% if they want to grab a couple of wins in the upcoming weeks.

#9 Louisville (4-3) (1-3) – Last Week – L, 45-42 vs. Boston College

Movement from Last Week (-2)

Pull out your albums from the late Tom Petty, because the Cardinals are free falling. Lamar Jackson totaled over 500 yards and accounted for 5 touchdowns on the day, but the Cardinal defense was absolutely gashed by the Boston College offense, who hadn’t scored more than 20 points in a game the entire season. Louisville allowed 500 yards for the second consecutive week, and the tackling was beyond abysmal, so much so that coach Bobby Petrino noted that most of this week’s practices have been emphasizing tackling fundamentals. Turnovers once again haunted the Cardinals as a key fumble late in the 4th quarter allowed Boston College to drive down the field to kick the game winning field goal. Louisville has some winnable games left, but the same could be said about the game last week. I think it may be a struggle for this team to finish over the .500 mark.

#10 Virginia (5-1) (2-0) – Last Week – W, 20-14 @ North Carolina

Movement from Last Week (-1)

I know that I have been high on Virginia over the past couple of weeks, but after watching the film from this weekend and taking a look at some older film, my love affair with the Cavaliers is over at this point. They are off to their best start since 2007, but Virginia played the worst team in the ACC on Saturday, and really didn’t deserve to win the game. Yes, Benkert was slightly above average with 249 yards and two touchdowns and Jordan Ellis added 136 yards on the ground, but with upcoming games against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Miami and Louisville, if they continue to play the way that they have over the past two or three weeks, it will be hard for Virginia to come out with more than one win over that span.

#11 – Boston College (3-4) (1-3) – Last Week – W, 45-42 @ Louisville

Movement from Last Week (+1)

Well, we all saw that one coming, right?? If you would have told me that Boston College would score 45 points on a day where Anthony Brown completed only 5 passes on the day, I would have called you a cab to get home. Instead, AJ Dillon put on a show for the ages against an absolutely terrible Louisville run defense. Dillon carried the ball an astonishing 39 times and rushed for 272 yards on the day for 4 touchdowns. I don’t expect Dillon to come close to these numbers for the rest of the season, but it was really refreshing to see some life out of the Boston College offense. Look for him to get 20+ carries on Saturday as the Eagles take on Virginia in what I expect to be a close matchup.

#12 Duke (4-3) (1-3) – Last Week – L, 17-10 vs. Florida State

Movement from Last Week (-2)

Things have gone from bad to worse for the Blue Devil offense after a very promising start to the season. Daniel Jones was average, once again, as he completed 22 of his 35 pass attempts for only 204 yards, and did not throw a touchdown. Duke has been able to rely on the running game when Jones has been average, but the offensive line was just no match for the athleticism of the Seminole defense as they rushed for only 111 yards on the day. The Duke defense continues to be strong, ranking 31st in the nation in rushing yards against, and 27th in the nation in points against, but unless the offense starts to put up some more points, they will have to put up some shutouts if they want to lead their team to victory.

#13 Pittsburgh (2-5) (0-3) – Last Week – L, 35-17 vs. #20 North Carolina State

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

We all knew about the turmoil under center for the Panthers with the ongoing battle between Ben Dinucci and Max Browne, but now that turmoil has found its way into the backfield for the Panthers. Pittsburgh had an astonishing nine players rush the ball on the afternoon, and still didn’t manage to break the century mark in rushing on 32 attempts. As a matter of fact, not a single player broke the 20-yard mark on the day as they managed only 3.0 yards per carry as a team. When the player of the game for your team is the Punter, you are in for a world of hurt, and with an upcoming game on the road against the Blue Devils and their vaunted rush defense, I don’t see Dinucci doing enough to beat them with his arm. Pittsburgh may struggle to hit the 3-win mark this season.

#14 North Carolina (1-6) (0-4) – Last Week – L, 20-14 vs. Virginia

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

A change at quarterback did absolutely nothing for the Tar Heels in an absolutely abysmal loss to a Virginia team that played some pretty poor football on Saturday afternoon. Luckily for the Tar Heels, they do still have a winnable game on their schedule as they host Wester Carolina in November, but with their upcoming contests against Miami and Virginia Tech, I’m expecting the Tar Heels to lose by 30 or more points in the upcoming weeks.