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ACC Power Rankings: Week 8

Miami remains unbeaten, Boston College is rolling and Wake Forest and Duke will struggle to be bowl eligible after 4-0 starts.

NCAA Football: Boston College at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week 8 of the ACC Power Rankings presented by Shakin the Southland. Despite Clemson and NC State being Idle this week, the ACC put together an interesting week as Syracuse hung tough with Miami, Boston College continued its offensive explosion, and it all looks to be over for Duke and Wake Forest. Be sure to sound off in the comments below and, as always, enjoy.

#1 Clemson (6-1) (4-1) – Last Week – Idle

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Clemson’s bye week could not have come at a better time as they try to nurse Quarterback Kelly Bryant back to health from last week’s concussion and reaggravation of his ankle injury. The news out of the Tiger camp is that Bryant has cleared concussion protocol (although he admits that he was knocked unconscious during the incident) and that his ankle is at about 80-85%. Bryant is practicing and expected to play, but that is what we heard prior to the Syracuse game. The Tiger’s season seems to rest on #2’s ankle and I don’t see the backups being able to get the job done as Zerrick Cooper has officially been named the backup on the depth chart for the Tigers.

#2 Miami (6-0) (4-0) – Last Week – W, 27-19 vs. Syracuse

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Miami is showing the ability to pull away from opponents in the 4th quarter, which is a surprising turn from last year’s team which struggled to put teams away. Malik Rosier continues to put up big numbers, as he threw for 344 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions on the day, and Travis Homer is filling the shows of the injured Mark Walton quite well, as he rushed for 95 yards on the day, including a 40+ yarder late in the 4th quarter to extend the lead from one to eight. None of their wins are in dominating fashion, but that simply doesn’t matter in the standings as something special could be brewing in Miami.

#3 Virginia Tech (6-1) (2-1) – Last Week – W, 59-7 vs. North Carolina

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

I feel like nobody is talking about the Hokies anymore these days, and that has to be because of their extremely light schedule. Aside from their opening night win over West Virginia, the Hokies second best win would have to be on the road at Boston College at this point. Never-the-less, this was easily the Hokies most dominating performance of the season as they rushed out to a staggering 52-0 lead and Josh Jackson and the rest of the starters hit the showers early. Virginia Tech looks to have another snoozer this week as they host Duke, before they finally get their shot at another quality win with the showdown in Miami to open up November.

#4 North Carolina State (6-1) (4-0) – Last Week – Idle

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Welcome to primetime NC State. I hope that the Wolfpack ate their Wheaties over the course of their bye week, because they will put their six-game winning streak on the line on the road in South Bend against a top-10 Notre Dame team before hosting Clemson to open November in what basically amounts to the ACC Atlantic Division title game. NC State’s ticket to success this season has been ball control. After an opening season loss to South Carolina, the Wolfpack have not turned the ball over since, and Ryan Finley has been the best quarterback in the ACC this season. With their key wins over Florida State and Louisville not looking quite as impressive these days, North Carolina State will have its chance over the next two weeks to prove the doubters wrong that have recently re-entered the picture.

#5 Georgia Tech (4-2) (3-1) – Last Week – W, 38-24 vs. Wake Forest

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

I can only imagine the thoughts racing through the heads of the Yellowjacket fans as Mike Weaver converted a 29-yard field goal halfway through the 3rd quarter to extend the Wake Forest lead to 24-19. After two gut wrenching losses this season to Tennessee and Miami after Georgia Tech blew double digit leads, I was surprised as anyone to see TaQuon Marshall pick up his team and lead them to a 4th quarter victory. Marshall rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns on the day as Georgia Tech amassed almost 500 rushing yards on the day. Georgia Tech has dug themselves a hole in the ACC Coastal with Miami owning the tiebreaker and Clemson waiting for them next week, but this is definitely a team to be reckoned with.

#6 Syracuse (4-4) (2-2) – Last Week – L, 27-19 @ #8 Miami

Movement from Last Week (+1)

There may be no such thing as a moral victory, but this was the most impressive loss I have seen from a team this season in the ACC. If you ask Eric Dungey, I’m pretty sure that he would tell you that this was the worst performance of his career, as he completed only 13 of his 41 pass attempts for 137 yards and threw four interceptions in the first half alone. What impressed me was Syracuse’s ability to rally around their struggling quarterback with a solid defensive performance. And where did this rushing attach from Dontae Strickland come from??? Strickland has 263 rushing yards in his previous three games while compiling only rushing for 140 in the first five games. Dino Babers has the Orange playing hard and they will put a scare in their remaining opponents, which includes road contests against Florida State and Louisville.

#7 Louisville (5-3) (2-3) – Last Week – W, 31-28 @ Florida State

Movement from Last Week (+2)

Oh Louisville…you confuse me. I’m left scratching my head this week as the Cardinals held the vaunted running back duo of Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick to 155 yards total on the ground after giving up 364 to Boston College a week ago? Regardless of the current state of the Seminoles, a win on the road in the ACC is still a decent victory, especially when Lamar Jackson only throws for a season low 156 yards and only 1 touchdown. The Cardinals made up for a lack of a passing game with their ground game as they rushed for 293 yards on the ground, led by Jackson with 178. At this point, who really knows what Louisville team is going to show up on a week-by-week basis, but a relatively light remaining schedule suggests that this team can finish strong and make a decent bowl game.

#8 Florida State (2-4) (2-3) – Last Week – L, 31-28 vs. Louisville

Movement from Last Week (-2)

After last season’s shellacking at the hands of Louisville at Papa John’s Stadium, I fully expected the Seminoles to come out on fire and win this game, but as you readers are well aware of at this point, I am wrong a lot. Louisville jumped out to a two-score lead which caused Florida State to go away from its run game and put the ball in the hands of Freshman Charlie Blackman. Blackman did bring the Noles back to tie the score at 28-28, but turned the ball over three times on the afternoon, including fumbling the ball back to Louisville with just over two minutes remaining and the Seminoles in control to kick the game winning field goal. Florida State has now lost its first three home games for the first time since 1974, and thanks to Hurricane Irma, the Noles will have to beat either Clemson or rival Florida on the road, and win the remainder of their games if they want to be bowl eligible.

#9 – Boston College (4-4) (2-3) – Last Week – W, 41-10 @ Virginia

Movement from Last Week (+1)

A week after A.J. Dillon took the ACC by storm, Freshman Quarterback Anthony Brown decided that it was his turn to get in on the action. In easily his most impressive game of his young career, Brown completed 19 of his 24 pass attempts for 275 yards and a Touchdown. Dillon did manage to amass 89 yards on 24 carries despite Virginia overcrowding the box over last week’s performance, but BC managed to run away with this game early and never look back. The Boston College defense was chasing Kurt Benkart all game and eventually chased him out of the game once it was already decided. Boston College will be an interesting team to watch down the stretch as they have a decent chance to be bowl eligible with Connecticut and Syracuse remaining on the schedule.

#10 Wake Forest (4-3) (1-3) – Last Week – L, 38-24 @ Georgia Tech

Movement from Last Week (-2)

It looks like this is where the story is ending for Wake Forest in the 2017 college football season. After a 4-0 start, the Demon Deacons have lost 3 straight, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight with upcoming contests against Louisville, Notre Dame and NC State. Wake Forest just couldn’t close despite being in the lead in the 3rd quarter as they mustered only 3 second half points, and their rush defense was gashed for almost 500 yards against the triple-option attack that they had a bye week to prepare for. Wake Forest is looking like one of two ACC teams that will struggle to become bowl eligible despite starting the season 4-0.

#11 Virginia (5-2) (2-1) – Last Week – L, 41-10 vs. Boston College

Movement from Last Week (-1)

The magical four game win streak for Virginia was bound to come to an end at some point, but I’m not sure than any of us saw it coming to an end in this fashion. Much like the Cavaliers last loss to Indiana back in early September, they just couldn’t keep Kurt Benkart on his feet. Benkart was sacked three times and was running for his life the entire game, highlighted by a left handed backwards pass to avoid a sack that was eventually intercepted by BC. Benkart eventually made way to the debut of Freshman Lindell Stone who was not impressive at all completing only 2-of-9 passes. Virginia will have to wait another week to become bowl eligible as they travel to the struggling Pitt Panthers next weekend.

#12 Pittsburgh (3-5) (1-3) – Last Week – W, 24-17 @ Duke

Movement from Last Week (+1)

Who needs a Quarterback when Darrin Hall can come out of nowhere and rush for over 250 yards? Hall scored rushing touchdowns of 92-yards (a school record) and 79-yards, which are both the longest scoring plays for the Panthers this season. The battle between Hall and Qadree Ollison appears to be over as the two were named co-starters coming into this week, but Ollison racked up only 17 yards on the day, and I expect Hall to get the remainder of the carries on the season.

#13 Duke (4-4) (1-4) – Last Week – L, 24-17 vs. Pittsburgh

Movement from Last Week (-1)

Sigh…I had blissfully forgotten my post from just 4 weeks ago where I came on this website and proclaimed that the Duke Blue Devils were my favorite to win the ACC Coastal. After the unimpressive play of Daniel Jones over the past couple of weeks, the Blue Devils highly ranked rush defense was the only thing going for them, and the rush defense was what let them down this weekend. Duke allowed 336 rushing yards (the most they have allowed this season) including 254 yards and 3 touchdowns to Darrin Hall. After starting 4-0 on the season, Duke finds themselves unlikely to become bowl eligible before the end of the year.

#14 North Carolina (1-7) (0-5) – Last Week – L, 20-14 vs. Virginia

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Do I feel bad for the circumstances around the Tar Heels? Yes, I do, but you can only lay so much of the blame on the injury woes that have ravished Chapel Hill this season. I’m not sure that you could call this weekend’s contest a football game as North Carolina was simply blown off the field by the Hokies. Although the offense has been poor this season, despite giving up 59 points, this is the first week where I can say that the offense was actually worse than the defense. North Carolina used all three of their quarterbacks this week, and none of them were effective and their three turnovers led to 21 Hokie points. With two of their remaining four games against current top 15 teams, it is going to be a struggle for this team to keep a game respectable, and it is going to be even harder for us to watch.