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ACC Power Rankings: Week 2

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Clemson holds strong, Syracuse goes down in flames, and the ACC looks unimpressive in a rain soaked week 2.

NCAA Football: Troy at Southern Mississippi Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Week 2 of the college football season is in the books for the ACC, and it was a rather unimpressive showing from the conference this week. Several teams on the top half of this list struggled with inferior opponents, and this week featured a pretty serious upset, albeit coming against a team towards the bottom of the rankings. Mother nature showed us this week that some things are more important than football. Please join me and the entire staff here at Shakin the Southland in praying for the health and safety of all individuals who have been impacted by Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma. That being said, the show must go on. Here’s how the ACC conference shapes up after two weeks of play. Be sure to sound of in the comments below, and enjoy.

#1 Clemson (2-0) (0-0) – Last Week – W, 14-6 vs. #13 Auburn

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

It may not have been pretty, but the Tigers got the job done this week to keep their #1 spot in our rankings with the help of a Defense that staked its claim as one of the best in the country. The Tigers held Auburn to 117 yards on the night (15 in the 2nd half) with the help of 11 sacks, one off the school record, 4 of which were provided by Austin Bryant. The defensive line was beyond dominant, but let’s give credit where credit is due, the secondary was also phenomenal as they forced Jarrett Stidham to roll out of the pocket and give the hungry defensive line a chance to pounce over and over again. Kelly Bryant added two rushing touchdowns on the evening as many weren’t pleased with the offensive performance, but remember, this is an Auburn defense that held the Deshawn Watson led offense to 19 points last season. Improvement needs to be made to the offense (especially in the play calling) but don’t let this performance deter you against one of the top defenses in the country. The big test on the road in Louisville next weekend in primetime will be the true test and a chance for us to analyze the current state of the offense.

#2 Florida State (0-1) (0-0) – Last Week – Game vs. Louisiana Monroe Canceled

Hurricane Irma will be giving the Noles quite some time to prepare their offense under new starting quarterback James Blackmon. This week’s contest against Louisiana Monroe was canceled and there are currently no plans to make up the game at a later date. Additionally, the upcoming contest against Miami has been rescheduled to October 7th, so we won’t see the 10th ranked Seminoles until the 23rd when they welcome NC State. No doubt, this can help FSU as they now have three weeks to prepare Blackmon. Nobody in the conference has shown me that that they deserve to be bumped up to the #2 spot in the rankings, so Florida State remains unchanged for now.

#3 Virginia Tech (2-0) (0-0) – Last Week – W, 27-0 vs. Delaware

I was wholly uninspired by the Hokies performance this week as they welcomed FCS opponents the Delaware Blue Hens. (or has my co-worker and Delaware alumni calls them, the fighting chickens) The game was never in question, but the Virginia Tech offense failed to get into the end zone in the contest until 2 minutes remained in the first half. Greg Stroman showed the typical Hokie special teams magic adding a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown, but it still remains that the Hokies led only 17-0 into the 4th quarter. The bright spot on the afternoon was the Hokie defense which allowed only 223 yards and allowed the Blue Hens into Virginia Tech territory only 3 times on the day, a week after giving up over 600 yards to West Virginia. This game has me questioning the Hokies, but we will have to wait and see which team is for real. They stay put at #3 for the time being.

#4 Miami (1-0) (0-0) – Last Week – Game vs. Arkansas State Canceled

Movement from Last Week (+1)

Miami was another victim of Hurricane Irma as they were forced to cancel their contest against Arkansas State in Arkansas and have announced that it will not be made up. With the rescheduling of the upcoming Florida State game, we won’t see the Hurricanes until the 23rd when the take on Toledo. Again, I have no idea what to expect out of this Miami team, but my belief in the running ability of Mark Walton and their relatively weak schedule lead me to believe that the Canes may be able to hold onto this position in the top four for a bit.

#5 Louisville (2-0) (1-0) – Last Week – W, 47-35 @ North Carolina

Movement from Last Week (-1)

I’m probably going to get blasted for this, but I can’t keep Louisville in the top four of the rankings after another subpar team performance against North Carolina. I just can’t. The Cardinals gave up 35 points to a below average North Carolina offense, without the better of their two quarterbacks, and while they may not have committed any turnovers, the idiotic mistakes continue to haunt UL. In the third quarter of the contest, after a punt was fair caught inside the 20-yard line by the Tar Heels, Chucky Williams (and I have NO IDEA why) waited a good five seconds before wrapping up and attempting to tackle Austin Proehl. North Carolina would use the field position to take a 28-27 lead in the third quarter. How far can one man take a team? Luckily for Louisville, when that man is Lamar Jackson, the answer is pretty darn far. Again, Jackson bailed out Louisville accounting 525 total yards and six touchdowns on the afternoon. It may not seem like it, but eventually, Jackson is going to have an off day, and this team has shown me no ability to be able to pick him up when that happens. This team goes as far, and ONLY as far as Lamar Jackson takes them.

#6 Duke (2-0) (0-0) – Last Week – W, 41-17 vs. Northwestern

Movement from Last Week (+1)

Am I going overboard on the Blue Devils? Probably, but I am very happy with what I am seeing out of Durham early in the season. After an early interception from Daniel Jones ended a string of 202 consecutive passes without a touchdown, Jones was electric for the remainder of the game, slinging 29 completed passes for 305 yards and adding two touchdowns. Jones also added 2 rushing touchdowns as well while leading the team with 108 rushing yards. I had my questions about whether the defensive performance last week was due to the inferior competition, but Duke held Northwestern to only 161 total yards, and turned the Wildcats over 3 times. Duke’s next three contests against Baylor, at North Carolina and against Miami will tell me whether I’m wrong about the Blue Devils, but I would love to see them throw a wrench into the already chaotic ACC Coastal Division.

#7 Georgia Tech (1-1) (0-0) – Last Week – W, 37-10 vs. Jacksonville State

Movement from Last Week (-1)

This was another game this week that had me shaking my head at the conferences performance as a whole. Georgia Tech came out in the first half and put together a poor performance and entered the half leading only 10-7. The triple-option was very unimpressive against the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State, as Tech was forced to rely on the arm of TaQuon Marhsall to finally put the game away in the second half with a pair of touchdown passes to Ricky Jeune and J.J. Green. To show you just how ineffective their offensive attack was against Jacksonville State, they won the time of possession battle 31:33 to 28:27. Those numbers should NEVER be that close with a team whose success relies on controlling the tempo and especially against an inferior opponent. Georgia Tech has the ability to come out and play in big games, but their lack of consistency may cause them to drop some games that we didn’t see coming.

#8 Wake Forest (2-0) (1-0) – Last Week – W, 37-10 vs. Boston College

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

I’m keeping Wake Forest right here this week after their victory over Boston College in their ACC opener, simply because it was really hard to judge the performance of the Deacs this week. Boston College simply handed opportunities to Wake Forest over and over again committing 4 turnovers on the day, and to their credit, Wake Forest converted on those opportunities. John Wolford has been named starting quarterback for Wake (a decision I think they will regret down the line) but he was very effective against Boston College completing 13-of-19 passes for 151 yards, and grabbing 92 yards on the ground and a touchdown on a team leading 20 carries. They have two cupcakes remaining on the schedule before they host Florida State to end the month of September, so the Demon Deacon’s will continue to be a question mark to me until we see some real competition.

#9 Pittsburgh (1-1) (0-0) – Last Week – L, 33-14 @ #4 Penn State

Movement from Last Week (+3)

I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the performance from the Panthers this week, but they make the jump in the rankings this week as they traveled to Happy Valley and managed to make it somewhat of a game in the fourth quarter. (although that is stretching it big time) The real reason for the jump? They managed to keep Saquon Barkley from running all over them, which is not an easy task. Barkley did get loose on a 46-yard receiving touchdown, but was held under 100 yards, which is a feat that you won’t see often this season. The offense, on the other hand, looks like an offense that lost their top two playmakers and is under their third offensive coordinator in three years after losing Matt Canada. USC graduate transfer Max Browne doesn’t look like the answer at quarterback throwing for only 138 yards and two interceptions on 32 pass attempts, but Qadree Olliso has my attention in the backfield for Pitt. If he can return to his 2015 ACC Freshman of the Year status, it may mask the quarterback woes in Pittsburgh this season.

#10 North Carolina State (1-1) (0-0) – Last Week – W, 37-20 vs. Marshall

Movement from Last Week (-1)

Everywhere I look I am getting the message that I have North Carolina State too low on this list, but I’m just not buying the Wolfpack at all this season. Against a Marshall team that lost to Miami of Ohio last week, it took two touchdown passes from Ryan Finley in the final 2 minutes of the first half just to go into the locker room with the lead! I know, I know, they play four quarters for a reason, and the above average game from Finley (29-of-36 for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns) was enough to blow the game open late, but the Wolfpack just can’t seem to stop letting up the big plays, including a 2nd quarter 75-yard touchdown pass to Tyre Brady. Finley will win them some games with more performances like this, but I’m not entirely positive that NC State cracks the .500 mark this season.

#11 North Carolina (0-2) (0-1) – Last Week – L, 47-35 vs. #17 Louisville

Movement from Last Week (-1)

MUCH better from Chazz Surratt in week two for the Tar Heels…Unfortunately, that’s all that was better for UNC as they failed to keep up with Lamar Jackson as they dropped their ACC opener to Louisville. Surratt was 12-of-14 passing for 168 yards and a touchdown, but was forced to leave the game early with an injury to his right leg. (The injury is reportedly not serious) LSU transfer Brandon Harris stepped in and was adequate, but Surratt clearly needs to be made the #1 guy in Chapel Hill. What else can you say about the Tar Heel defense? They stunk. Again. Now Lamar Jackson can make anybody look bad, but UNC gave up 705 total yards (if you are counting, that’s 1,174 in two games) and an astonishing 35 first downs on the afternoon. Surratt may be able to keep UNC in some games, but I don’t expect much in the win column from the Tar Heels this season.

#12 – Boston College (1-1) (0-1) – Last Week – L, 34-10 @ Wake Forest

Movement from Last Week (+1)

Freshman Anthony Brown looked completely rattled as the Eagles opened up ACC play with a loss to the Demon Deacons. The stat line may be a bit unfair to Brown as two of the three interceptions that he threw went through the hands of his receivers, but he was just uncomfortable in the pocket, and forced throws that he shouldn’t be making. That is to be expected from a Freshman quarterback, who was replaced in the second half and Boston College is going to have to live through the growing pains. Bottom line is, you aren’t going to beat anyone if you turn the ball over 4 times and with a young core, that trend is likely to continue for the Eagles.

#13 Virginia (1-1) (0-0) – Last Week – L, 34-17 vs. Indiana

Movement from Last Week (+1)

This one certainly wasn’t pretty…although it actually started out quite well for the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers frustrated Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow who was completely off the mark from the start, and was removed from the game following an interception, but the defense was picked apart by his replacement, Peyton Ramsey, who completed 16-of-20 passes. Virginia could get absolutely nothing going with the ground game, and that, combined with a large deficit caused Kurt Benker to drop back to pass 66 times on the afternoon. It is still very early in coach Bronco Mendenhall’s campaign, but Virginia fans are growing a bit impatient, and I have even seen some yearning for the old days of Mike London.

#14 Syracuse (1-1) (0-0) – Last Week – L, 30-23 vs. Middle Tennessee

Movement from Last Week (-3)

Syracuse provided this week’s entertainment as they forced fans from all over the ACC to glance at the scrolling bottom line of ESPN and say “wait...what?” After claiming last week that Syracuse would be off to a 3-0 start, the Orange managed to prove me wrong once again as they did the unthinkable, and dropped a home contest to Middle Tennessee. It really is Eric Dungey or nothing as for the second consecutive week, he led the team in both passing and rushing. To add insult to injury, former Syracuse Head Coach Scott Shafer was on the other sideline as the Blue Raiders defensive coordinator and managed to bask in victory over his former club, having a victory cigar with reporters after the game. The game plan on Syracuse is pretty simple at this point. Find #2, mirror him, and force somebody else to beat you. Syracuse doesn’t seem to have the talent to overcome this strategy, and it looks like it will be a long season up in upstate New York.