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ACC Power Rankings: Week 3

The Cardinals lay an egg at home, Why is there a QB competition in UNC and just who is that at the top of the ACC Coastal? in this weeks Power Rankings

NCAA Football: Baylor at Duke Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to another addition of the Shakin the Southland ACC Power Rankings. Week #3 is in the books and we are so, so close to losing the cupcake matchups and having some real conference football take center stage. Although two games and three ACC teams were kept off the field due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, this week featured a potential top tier team being put in their place at home, a potentially surprising move up to #2 in the rankings and my new favorite in the ACC Coastal division. Be sure to sound off in the comments below and, as always, enjoy!

#1 Clemson (3-0) (1-0) – Last Week – W, 47-21 @ #14 Louisville

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

The Tigers not only cemented themselves atop of these ranking for the foreseeable future, but proved that this team can be just as dangerous as last season’s National Championship squad, but in a different way. In his first road start of his career, Red-Shirt Junior Kelly Bryant completed 22-of-32 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown, and added two more on the ground as the Tigers absolutely demolished the Cardinals on prime-time television. Louisville wasn’t the only one with revenge from last season’s matchup on their mind as through three quarters, the Tigers held reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson to just 64 rushing yards and 118 yards in passing, before Jackson boosted his stats in garbage time. The Tigers will move on to face Boston College with a date in Blacksburg looming on the 30th. At this point in time, the Tigers are going nowhere, as nobody even threatens the top spot in the ACC after week 3.

#2 Virginia Tech (3-0) (0-0) – Last Week – W, 64-17 @ East Carolina

Movement from Last Week (+1)

By the end of the first quarter of this game in Greenville, NC, I was wondering to myself just how far I was going to drop the Hokies in this week’s Rankings as Virginia Tech trailed 17-7. The second quarter belonged to the Hokies, but they just couldn’t find their way into the end zone, settling for 3 Joey Slye field goals to enter the half with a 23-17 lead. At this point, I’m thinking to myself, “Okay, after last week’s subpar performance, I've got them at about #5 right now”. You know sometimes all it takes is a mediocre performance and a half-time butt chewing for a team to completely turn themselves around? That is exactly what happened to Tech as they scored 35 points in the third quarter to absolutely run away from ECU. Josh Jackson was absolutely phenomenal, completing 24-of-31 passes for 372 yards and 5 touchdowns. I know I’m going to take some heat for jumping the Hokies over the Idle Seminoles, but I’ll take the performance of Jackson over an unproven James Blackmon for the #2 spot for the time being.

#3 Florida State (0-1) (0-0) – Last Week – Game vs. #17 Miami Rescheduled

Movement from Last Week (-1)

Florida State’s contest against Miami was rescheduled to October 10th earlier last week due to the impact of Hurricane Irma so it has been quite some time since we have seen the Seminoles in action. Do I feel bad about dropping FSU down a spot in the rankings even though we haven’t seen them play in 2 weeks? Yes, I do, but remember, we still don’t know what to expect out of this team with James Blackmon under center. FSU returns to action this weekend as they welcome NC State, a team that they ALWAYS seem to struggle against. Finally, time to see if the Noles have what it takes to remain in the top portion of our rankings and climb back up to the #2 slot.

#4 Miami (1-0) (0-0) – Last Week – Game @ Florida State Rescheduled

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Coming in right behind the Seminoles is the other team deeply impacted by the effects of Hurricane Irma as we haven’t seen Miami take the field since their opening victory against Bethune-Cookman. I’ll say it until I am blue in the face, I think that Mark Walton is the best running back in the ACC…but they just do this to us every year. Miami returns to action this week against another cupcake in Toledo which will likely show us nothing, and just like every year, I’m not buying Miami yet...but time will tell.

#5 Duke (3-0) (0-0) – Last Week – W, 34-20 vs. Baylor

Movement from Last Week (+1)

What would our weekly Power Rankings be without an outrageous prediction from yours truly? If the Miami Hurricanes do what I think they are going to do, I have Duke as your winner of the ACC Coastal Division. The Blue Devils win on Saturday over 0-3 Baylor wasn’t pretty, but it showed me that this team can win when Daniel Jones isn’t at his best. Jones threw for only 184 yards and threw another Interception, but the two-headed monster of Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown more than carried their load in leading Duke to victory as they rushed for 262 yards and three touchdowns between the two of them. The defense was, once again, spectacular forcing three interceptions from Zach Smith, who completed only 12 of his 34 pass attempts, and the Bears didn’t have a rusher reach the 30-yard mark on the game. Duke has a dangerous rivalry game on the road in Chapel Hill this weekend, but I am highly impressed by the Blue Devils through Week 3 of the college football season.

#6 Louisville (2-1) (1-1) – Last Week – L, 41-21 vs. #3 Clemson

Movement from Last Week (-1)

Last week, I called Syracuse a one man show, but apparently I missed Louisville from that equation as well. Lamar Jackson is an incredible player, but is going to have off nights, and the Clemson defense did just that to the Heisman Trophy winner. Jackson was frustrated all night leading to visible frustration on the sidelines. Louisville’s other weapon, Jaylen Smith, was virtually absent all-night long as well, showing us that the Cardinals just don’t have many weapons aside from Jackson. The #6 slot may seem low for a team with the hype of Louisville, but after two sub-par performances against below average teams and a beat down at home to Clemson, I will be looking to see if the Cardinals continue the pattern of last season and fold after a defeat. Their defense certainly won’t help them as they are 116th in the country in Points Against, and this ship just may be sinking early in the ACC season.

#7 Wake Forest (3-0) (1-0) – Last Week – W, 46-10 vs. Utah State

Movement from Last Week (+1)

Apparently, John Wolford doesn’t like the fact that I keep calling for him to lose his starting job in the ACC Power Rankings. It may have been against Utah State, but this game was over in 1 offensive play by the Deacs as Wolford hit Greg Dortch on their first play from scrimmage for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Wolford completed 12-of-22 of his pass attempts for 242 yards and 2 touchdowns, and has yet to throw an interception on the season. Sure, it hasn’t been against anybody halfway decent, but Wake Forest is putting up staggering offensive numbers for this program, and could be a sneaky pick, but with 4 games in a row in the middle of the season featuring Florida State, Clemson, at Georgia Tech and Louisville, I see Wake Forest crashing down to earth in a hurry.

#8 Georgia Tech (1-1) (0-0) – Last Week – Game @ UCF Canceled

Movement from Last Week (-1)

The Yellow Jackets had this week’s contest against Central Florida canceled due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma which will allow them an extra week to prep for the beginning of their ACC schedule this week, as the game will not be made up. With a struggling Pittsburgh team heading to Atlanta this weekend and an extra week to prepare, TaQuon Marshall and the boys will have to show me a dominant performance to creep back up in the rankings after a lackluster performance last week against Jacksonville State.

#9 North Carolina State (2-1) (0-0) – Last Week – W, 49-16 vs. Furman

Movement from Last Week (+1)

Oh, he almost did it…that man Ryan Finley had my hand over the #7 button for the Wolfpack as he continued his stellar start to the season (987 yards passing with 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions) as the Wolfpack took care of business against FCS opponent Furman. So why my change of heart? I went back and watched this game again and I still don’t buy that the run game is going to give Finley another viable option and the defense continues to hemorrhage big plays. (this time a 71-yard busted coverage allowing Andy Schumpert to haul in a touchdown) The run game was bolstered a bit by the return of Will Richardson from suspension, but I’m going to need to see the Wolfpack break the century mark on the ground in this week’s contest on the road at Florida State if I am going to move them any higher in these rankings. The biggest compliment I can give them right now (and it is DEFINITELY something I did not see myself saying this early in the season) is that…I’m intrigued.

#10 Pittsburgh (1-2) (0-0) – Last Week – L, 59-21 vs. #9 Oklahoma State

Movement from Last Week (-1)

I’m not going to punish the Panthers too harshly due to the difficulty of their schedule, but boy, did they just get waxed by Oklahoma State. To show you the transformation that this team has taken, a year removed from beating a Top 5 Penn State team and falling late in the 4th quarter to this same Oklahoma State team, Pitt just lost to the same schools by a combined score of 92-35. This game was over from the start as Oklahoma State scored touchdowns on its first SEVEN possessions. To top it off, we now officially have a quarterback controversy in Pittsburgh as Max Browne was pulled in the 2nd quarter, giving way to Ben Dinucci, who was equally unimpressive completing 13-of-25 attempts for 228 yards and throwing two interceptions. Neither quarterback is going to be able to mask the Panthers weaknesses, but it will be interesting to see how this team performs against some similarly talented teams.

#11 North Carolina (1-2) (0-1) – Last Week – W, 53-23 @ Old Dominion

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

Not much to see here this week as the Tar Heels rolled over FCS opponents Old Dominion by a score of 53-23 in a game that was over by halftime. However, the easy win didn’t stop coach Larry Fedora from causing some headlines, as after another impressive performance from Chazz Surratt, 16-of-24 for 257 yards, 1 passing touchdown and 2 rushing touchdowns, Fedora refused to name him the starting quarterback after the contest, stating “I don’t know” in regards to whether Sarratt or Brandon Harris would be getting the majority of the snaps for UNC. Come on Larry, this one is easy, and the mistake free performance by Chazz on Saturday should have easily sealed the deal. We’ll see whether the competition lights a fire under the redshirt freshman, or the lack of confidence in his head coach puts a damper on his impressive start to the season.

#12 Virginia (2-1) (0-0) – Last Week – W, 38-18 vs. Connecticut

Movement from Last Week (+1)

Nobody is going to proclaim that Connecticut is the Alabama of the northeast, but it was hard not to be impressed by the performance of the Cavaliers this week. Kurt Benkert broke his own passing record as he threw for 455 yards and throwing for 3 touchdown passes while completing 30-of-40 passes. He also highlighted that the Cavs just might have some playmakers on the outside as Doni Dowling, Andre Levrone & Olamide Zaccheaus all had over 120 yards receiving on the day and all found themselves in the end zone. I’m not going to get too excited over a performance against UConn, but let’s not forget that this team lost to the Huskies just last season, so this one may be a sign of improvement for the Virginia team as a whole.

#13 – Boston College (1-2) (0-1) – Last Week – L, 49-20 vs. Notre Dame

Movement from Last Week (-1)

The performance this week by Boston College looked good on paper, as they hung with Notre Dame for 2 and a half quarters, but paper doesn’t tell the story on this one. Boston College allowed Notre Dame to run ALL OVER them in this contest as the Irish racked up 515 rushing yards and had two 200-yard rushers, including QB Brandon Wimbush who added 4 rushing touchdowns on the day. Anthony Brown looked unimpressive yet again, throwing another 2 interceptions to bring his total to 6 on the season. With the stacked backfield of Clemson waiting for the Eagles this weekend, you may find BC fighting Syracuse for that bottom spot in next week’s rankings.

#14 Syracuse (2-1) (0-0) – Last Week – W, 41-17 vs. Central Michigan

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

The fighting Eric Dungey’s rebounded with a victory against Central Michigan a week after being upset on their home turf by Middle Tennessee, but it wasn’t necessarily pretty. In fact, this game was tied late in the first half before Dontae Strickland plowed into the end zone from 9-yards out to give the Orange the lead. Once again, it was all Dungey as for the third consecutive week, he led the Orange in both passing and rushing, completing 19-of-35 passes for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns, and adding 105 yards on the ground on 11 carries. The Syracuse defense may have pitched a shutout in the second half, but this team is going nowhere with easily the least talented backfield in the ACC and a severe case of the fumbles. (losing 5 on the season so far) Syracuse finally starts playing with the big boys as they head to Baton Rouge to face LSU this Saturday.