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ACC Power Rankings: And Now It’s Getting Interesting.

Clemson gets a hard fought win, Duke shows some life in a tough loss, and NC State pulls an upset.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 03 Virginia at Clemson Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

#1 Clemson (3-0, 2-0) LW:#1 Next Game: 10/10 vs Miami, 7:30 ACC.

It wasn’t always the prettiest game, and certainly wasn’t the 62-17 beatdown that Clemson laid on UVA last December, but when you look around what happened in college football this weekend and see Clemson came out not playing it’s A game and still getting an 18 point conference win that really was never in doubt (the Tigers kept UVA at arms length away for the majority of the game), then things are good. As always, you’ll get breakdowns and analysis of the game on this site all week, so I won’t delve too much into it. My big concern was the Tigers struggle to contain the mobility of Brennan Armstrong. A lot of the defensive issues were based on a young defense still getting it together, but there’s not much time for a learning curve as D’Eriq King and the Miami Hurricanes come to town Saturday night. I trust Venables to get a lot of things corrected. Again, we’ll see, as Gameday and ABC come to the Valley for the showdown with the Canes.

#2 Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0) LW: #2 Next Game: 10/10 vs FSU 7:30, NBC.

Notre Dame didn’t play over the weekend. They’re set to take on FSU Saturday. Notre Dame did have 29 players absent over the past week due to COVID-19 positives. So, it will certainly be worth keeping an eye on developments, but I imagine Notre Dame will try to get this game played.

#3 Miami (3-0, 2-0) LW: #3 Next Game: 10/10 @ Clemson 7:30 PM ABC.

The U had an open date over the weekend, unfortunately allowing them to turn all their attention to what will possibly be the ACC game of the year at Clemson. This will be Gameday’s first trip to Clemson since the 2016 Louisville game. Looking at how the show has been all year, the stage will probably be set midfield of Death Valley Saturday Morning. It’s going to be weird seeing Gameday come to town and not having thousands of fans and students show up at the crack of dawn with hilarious signs and costumes, as I and my friends did many times. Still, it’ll be good to have the crew back in Tigertown, and it’s always neat when Kirk Herbstreit gets to call his sons’ game.

#4 North Carolina (2-0, 2-0) LW:#5 Next Game: 10/10 vs Va Tech 12:00 PM ABC.

As expected, UNC comes into week whatever still undefeated, but the Tar Heels got all they could ask for from Boston College. BC scored a TD late in the 4th, setting up a potential tying two point conversion, but the Heels’ defense held tight.

Just a huge play in one of the conference’s better games of the weekend. UNC now hosts #19 Virginia Tech in what will be a huge test.

#5 Virginia Tech (2-0, 2-0) LW:#6 Next Game: 10/10 @ UNC 12:00 PM ABC.

The Hokies survived a valiant effort from Duke to get a 38-31 win in Durham. Khalil Herbert was an absolute workhorse for Va Tech as he had 20 carries for 208 yards and two touchdowns on the day. VT will return to the greater Raleigh/Durham area as they head to Chapel Hill to take on UNC.

#6 Pitt (3-1, 2-1) LW: #4 Next Game: 10/10 @ Boston College 4:00 PM ACCN.

Pitt dropped a heartbreaker to NC State.

Just a brutal finish for the Panthers. Pitt now has to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and head to Chestnut Hill to take on a Boston College team that went toe to toe with UNC.

#7 Virginia (1-1, 1-1) LW:#7 Next Game: 10/10 @ NC State 12:00 PM ACCN.

Even in a 18 point loss, UVA came out and gave Clemson all we could handle and certainly had us all nervous at times. Brennan Armstrong showed off why Dabo compared him to Steve Young, tossing 270 yards and 3 touchdowns, and rushing for 89 yards to lead the Cavs. Typically after a team pulls off a major upset, you’ll hear the phrase “hangover week” regarding their next game against a not as revered opponent. While UVA didn’t pull any upsets, they did have an exhausting battle in Death Valley. If you’re Bronco Mendenhall, you really have to make sure your team is focused this week as you head to Raleigh to face a NC State team with new life. You can’t let this loss to Clemson beat you twice.

#8 NC State (2-1, 2-1) LW:#12 Next Game: 10/10 vs UVA 12:00 PM ACCN.

State pulled the nice upset of Pitt. As stated above, with a UVA team that may be emotionally drained rolling into Raleigh, Doeren and co. could really grab some momentum with another upset.

#9 Boston College (2-1, 1-1) LW: #8 Next Game: 10/10 vs Pitt 4:00 PM ACCN.

BC came incredibly close to pulling off the upset in Chapel Hill. The Eagles continued their impressive passing attack as Phil Jurkovec tossed 313 yards and 2 touchdowns. This BC offense could be a really fun matchup with Pitt’s defense (that is so weird to type out) in Chestnut Hill this weekend.

#10 Louisville (1-2, 0-2) LW: #9 Next Game: 10/9 @ Georgia Tech 7:00 PM ESPN.

Louisville had an open weekend. This week we’ll see the Cardinals in some good ol’ ACC Friday Night Football. I enjoy having a good game to watch on Friday night, and Malik Cunningham vs Jeff Sims should be an entertaining game.

#11 Syracuse (1-2, 1-1) LW:#10 Next Game: 10/10 vs Duke 12:30 PM Regional Network.

‘Cuse also was off over the weekend. During the Jax St-FSU game I kept seeing ads for Duke-Syracuse on Fox Sports South, and I’ll have to say, it doesn’t sound too appealing. I’m sure I’ll check in on it to see how Chase Brice does, but this is definitely a weak spot on an otherwise strong noon slot.

#12 Georgia Tech (1-2, 1-1) LW:#11 Next Game: 10/9 vs Louisville 7:00 PM ESPN.

Tech was also off this weekend. This is a pretty jam-packed week for sports fans in Atlanta. The Falcons take on the Packers on Monday Night, the Braves begin their five-game Divisional Series against the Marlins in Texas, and then this game on Friday night. Plus, outside of Atlanta, UGA will host Tennessee in the CBS SEC game of the week. Having grown up around Atlanta sports, I have to say this week is probably going to be disastrous for at least some, if not all, teams involved.

#13 Wake Forest (1-2, 0-2) LW:#14 Next Game: 10/17 vs UVA 4:00 PM ACCN.

Wake cruised to a 66-14 win over FCS opponent Campbell. The Deacs will enjoy an open weekend before hosting Virginia.

#14 Florida State (1-2, 0-2) LW:#13 Next Game: 10/10 @ Notre Dame 7:30 PM NBC.

This weekend was almost incredibly disastrous for the Noles. Florida State hosted FCS Jacksonville State (from Jacksonville, Alabama, not Florida, FYI). The Jax State Gamecocks, QB’d by former Tiger Zerrick Cooper, came in early and absolutely pushed FSU around, jumping out to a 21-0 lead and leaving the Noles looking completely inept. FSU eventually rallied the troops and methodically came back, getting a 41-24 win. Jordan Travis came off the bench to quarterback the Noles and was the catalyst for the offense’s turnaround, going 12/17 with 210 yards. I’d imagine he gets the nod to start at Notre Dame. There’s a lot to digest from this game from the Noles’ standpoint. Jax State is a solid program with a good tradition in their own right, and has consistently been a landing spot for P5 transfers in the South such as Cooper. A first-year head coach’s team sleep-walking against a good FCS program in the first half isn’t necessarily that uncommon. The big thing, though, is that FSU’s OL is still it’s weak point, and the unit was exposed early on against the Gamecocks. We saw Miami dominate the Noles, but when even FCS linemen are getting good push, that’s extremely concerning when you have teams like Clemson with a ton of (albeit young) talent on the defensive line.

#15 Duke (0-4, 0-4) LW: #15 Next Game: 10/10 @ Syracuse 12:30 PM Regional Network.

Duke gave a good effort and fell just short against Va Tech, 38-31. Granted, the Hokies were missing a lot of players due to COVID, and I think they even had a walk-on starting in the defensive backfield. Still, you have to admire Duke for putting up such a good fight in a season that’s been so frustrating. Duke looks to get win #1 Saturday at ‘Cuse.