ACC Power Rankings, Sports, Football

ACC Power Rankings: Small-Scale Shake-Ups

1. Clemson (7-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast, AP No. 1) ↔

No. 1 Clemson entered the locker room after Saturday’s first half trailing by 15 points to Boston College. Rather than suffering their first loss of the season, the Tigers rallied for the biggest comeback at home in program history. Clemson’s defense kept BC from scoring a single point in the second half, and the Tigers’ offense proved it doesn’t need Trevor Lawrence to score with a 342-yard performance by backup quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. Running back Travis Etienne took advantage of BC’s backfield with 140 receiving yards and broke the all-time ACC rushing yard record by rushing for 84 more. Having survived their closest game of the year, the Tigers improved to 7-0. 

Next Up: at Notre Dame, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

2. Notre Dame (6-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast, AP No. 4) ↔

Notre Dame defeated a struggling Georgia Tech 31-13 this week to hold its position as No. 4 in the FBS. Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book passed for 199 yards and wide receiver Jeff Sims accumulated 150 yards and a touchdown, but the Georgia Tech game served mostly as practice for next week’s matchup against Clemson. The Irish will have to defeat a Lawrence-less Clemson Saturday to claim first in the conference and remain undefeated.

Next up: vs. Clemson, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

3. Miami (5-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast, AP No. 11) ↔

Miami enjoyed a bye this week coming off a 19-14 victory over Virginia. Despite that game’s close score, Miami fans don’t have reason to worry. Quarterback D’Eriq King passed for 322 yards, and Miami would have enjoyed an additional five points were it not for a missed field goal and a failed two-point conversion. Miami should be well rested and ready to take on NC State this Saturday.

Next up: at NC State, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

4. North Carolina (4-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast) ↑1

North Carolina suffered its second loss of the season last Saturday against a struggling Virginia, dropping the Tar Heels out of the AP Poll. Despite UNC quarterback Sam Howell throwing for 443 yards and four touchdowns, the Tar Heels were unable to overcome two costly turnovers. The UNC team that peaked at No. 5 on the AP Poll is now unranked for the first time this season. Despite the upset, the Tar Heels are a talented team and will face in-state rival Duke this weekend.

Next up: at Duke, Saturday, 12 p.m.

5. Wake Forest (4-2, 3-2 Atlantic Coast) ↑6

Wake Forest’s win streak has grown to four games with a 38-14 victory over Syracuse. After falling to Clemson and losing a close game to NC State, Wake Forest has since gone undefeated. The Demon Deacons forced two interceptions and a fumble against Syracuse, and their 26 first downs were twice as many as the Orange. The Wake Forest defense has held opponents to an average of 16.75 points since the first two games of the season but will find a more difficult opponent next Saturday in rival North Carolina after a bye this weekend.

Next up: Bye

6. Boston College (4-3, 3-3 Atlantic Coast) ↑1

Only one team has come close to defeating Clemson this year: BC. An overthrown ball by quarterback Phil Jurkovec following a big hit effectively ended the game for the Eagles, but the loss really came as a result of an offensive and defensive breakdown after halftime and 21 unanswered points for Clemson. Jurkovec is fifth in the NCAA with 1,875 passing yards, and tight end Hunter Long still leads NCAA tight ends in receiving yards despite a quiet week. Although the Eagles lost, BC’s fighting spirit was on display for the nation, and Jeff Hafley established himself as a coach unafraid of competition. 

Next up: at Syracuse, Saturday, 2 p.m.

7. Virginia Tech (4-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast) ↓3

Virginia Tech is now tied for fourth in the ACC standings after a 42-35 win over Louisville last weekend and a close loss to Wake Forest the week before. Despite a 21-point fourth quarter for Louisville, the Hokies capitalized on three interceptions and were able to hold on to the lead. Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker played a nearly flawless game, completing all 10 of his 10 pass attempts. The Hokies are 15-point favorites going into this weekend’s non-conference game against undefeated No. 25 Liberty.

Next up: vs. Liberty, Saturday, 12 p.m. 

8. North Carolina State (4-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast) ↓2

NC State lost 48-21 last week to North Carolina. This week, the Wolfpack faces No. 11 Miami. With starting quarterback Devin Leary still out, the Wolfpack’s success depends on the unreliable duo of quarterbacks Bailey Hockman and Ben Finley, who combined for three interceptions last week. NC State’s schedule for the rest of the year includes three teams ranked in the bottom half of the ACC, but games against Miami and Liberty will prove difficult for the Wolfpack.

Next up: vs. Miami, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

9. Virginia (2-4, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) ↑1

After a 44-41 upset victory over North Carolina, Virginia looks to carry its momentum into this weekend’s game against struggling Louisville. Last week’s win broke a four-game losing streak for the Cavaliers as UVA’s aggressive play style paid off. The team went 4-for-4 on fourth downs and capitalized on a successful fake punt late in the game. This week’s win was preceded by a 19-14 loss against then-No. 11 Miami, a surprisingly close game for the Cavaliers against a talented opponent. 

Next up: vs. Louisville, Saturday, 8 p.m.

10. Pittsburgh (3-4, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) ↓1

Pittsburgh started the season 3-0 and has since lost its last four games. The Panthers fell to Notre Dame 45-3 two weeks ago and took a much-needed bye week last weekend. Quarterback Kenny Pickett is reportedly still not available to play after a leg injury earlier in the season, but Pitt hopes to turn its momentum around with a win over underperforming Florida State.

Next up: at Florida State, Saturday, 4 p.m.

11. Florida State (2-4, 1-4 Atlantic Coast) ↑1

Florida State comes into this Saturday well rested after a bye last weekend. The Seminoles have struggled this year, with their only conference win coming in an upset against North Carolina three weeks ago. Their bye was preceded by a 48-16 loss to Louisville, and this Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh will determine if Florida State is able to regroup.

Next up: vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday, 4 p.m.

12. Louisville (2-5, 1-5 Atlantic Coast) ↑1

Louisville started the season ranked fourth in the ACC preseason poll and is now tied for last in the conference standings. A close Week 7 12-7 loss to No. 4 Notre Dame and a Week 8 48-16 victory over Florida State seemed to suggest that Louisville was ready to contend, but a 42-35 loss and three interceptions for quarterback Malik Cunningham against Virginia Tech last week brought the Cardinals back down to earth. 

Next up: at Virginia, Saturday, 8 p.m.

13. Duke (2-5, 1-5 Atlantic Coast) ↑2

The Blue Devils have struggled on both sides of the football this year and are tied for last place in the ACC. Last week, however, Duke clobbered Charlotte 53-19. Charlotte didn’t pose a threat as a challenging opponent, but the Blue Devils proved that they could score fast and force turnovers. The Blue Devils may be tied for the worst record in the ACC, but they still have a chance next week as underdogs against slumping rival North Carolina.

Next up: vs. North Carolina, Saturday, 12 p.m.

14. Georgia Tech (2-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) ↓5

Georgia Tech has lost each of its last three games by more than 18 points. Two of those games were against the top two teams in the ACC but were losses nonetheless. Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims continues to look more comfortable as the year progresses, although he was sacked a season-high five times last Saturday against Notre Dame. With a bye this weekend, the Yellow Jackets should have time to rest and regroup.

Next up: Bye

15. Syracuse (1-6, 1-5 Atlantic Coast) ↓1

Tied for last in the ACC standings, Syracuse has had a difficult season. Syracuse is the only team in the conference without more than one win and has given up at least 38 points in four straight weeks. Last week’s loss against Wake Forest saw the Orange turn the ball over three times with two interceptions and a fumble. With an offense struggling to convert first downs and a defense struggling to make stops, Syracuse’s season is not looking up. Syracuse will face Boston College this weekend as a 15-point underdog.

Next up: vs. Boston College, Saturday, 2 p.m.

Featured Graphic by Emma Healy / Heights Editor

November 4, 2020