Sports, Football, ACC Power Rankings

ACC Power Rankings: Down Goes Clemson

1. Notre Dame (7-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast, AP No. 2) ↑1

The storyline of the week—maybe even of the season—is that Notre Dame beat Clemson on Saturday. It may have been in double-overtime with a Notre Dame home field advantage and a Trevor Lawrence-less Clemson, but a win is a win. With 1:48 left on the clock, quarterback Ian Book led the Notre Dame offense on a 100-yard drive resulting in a touchdown and forced the game into overtime. The Fighting Irish did not play perfect football, but their offensive control and defensive ability to force three turnovers and hold Clemson running back Travis Etienne to 28 yards won one of the biggest college football games of the season for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish will have to carry their momentum into this weekend against Boston College to remain undefeated.

Next Up: at Boston College, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

2. Clemson (7-1, 6-1 Atlantic Coast, AP No. 4) ↓1

Until Friday night, Clemson held the longest-standing regular-season winning streak in college football dating back to 2017. Now, the Tigers are in second place in the ACC. Tiger back-up quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei threw for an impressive 439 yards in the 40-47 loss, but two Clemson fumbles counteracted his efforts. The Tigers proved once again their ability to take the lead after trailing by double digits at the half, but Clemson’s defense could not stop No. 2 Notre Dame from scoring. In addition to Lawrence, Clemson’s roster lacked several defensive starters, but those disadvantages did not matter to Notre Dame students flooding the field to celebrate the downfall of college football’s top team. Clemson will enjoy a bye this weekend, giving the Tigers plenty of time to regroup.

Next Up: Bye

3. Miami (6-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast, AP No. 9) ↔

Miami came back from trailing by 10 at the start of the fourth quarter to beat North Carolina State 44-41. The victory was closer than the 10.5-point favorite Hurricanes would have liked, but that was due to NC State playing well rather than Miami playing poorly. Quarterback D’Eriq King passed for 430 yards with five touchdowns, and the Hurricanes did not turn the ball over once. Miami will play at Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Next Up: at Virginia Tech, Saturday, 12:00 p.m.

4. North Carolina (5-2, 5-2 Atlantic Coast) ↔

North Carolina bounced back from a loss to Virginia with a 56-24 win over rival Duke on Saturday. Running back Javonte Williams led the UNC offense with four touchdowns, and the Tar Heel defense held the Blue Devils to just 155 passing yards. Duke has not played great football this season, and Saturday’s win proved that UNC is back on track following the upset by Virginia. The Tar Heels will face a hot Wake Forest team this Saturday in another in-state rivalry game.

Next Up: vs. Wake Forest, Saturday, 12:00 p.m.

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

Wake Forest has won four straight games and hopes to extend that streak to five this Saturday against North Carolina. Coming off a bye last weekend, Wake Forest should be well-rested and prepared to compete with UNC. The Demon Deacons beat the Tar Heels last year 24-18 and have won six out of 11 games against UNC since 2000. 

Next Up: at UNC, Saturday, 12:00 p.m.

6. Boston College (5-3, 4-3 Atlantic Coast) ↔

Boston College beat Syracuse 16-13 last Saturday. The Eagles’ offense did not put up its usual numbers, although quarterback Phil Jurkovec appeared to have regained some accuracy following a bumpy second half against Clemson last week. Wide receiver Zay Flowers continued to shine with an impressive catch for BC’s first and only touchdown, and running back David Bailey found some success with 125 yards on 25 rush attempts. The BC defense made up for a slow offensive day by forcing two turnovers and holding Syracuse to one touchdown. This weekend’s game against No. 2 Notre Dame will not be easy for the Eagles, but expect Jurkovec to put up a fight in his revenge game against his former team at the annual Red Bandanna Game.

Next Up: vs. Notre Dame, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

7. North Carolina State (4-3, 4-3 Atlantic Coast) ↑1

North Carolina State moved up a place this week despite a 44-41 loss to No. 9 Miami. The Hurricanes were 10.5-point favorites over the Wolfpack, so the fact that NC State put Miami on upset watch with a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter is somewhat of a moral victory. While the Wolfpack’s offense had a productive day, their defense allowed 620 total yards.The NC State defense has allowed at least 20 points in every game this year and will need to slow opposing offenses to succeed in the second half of the season. The Wolfpack will face struggling Florida State this Saturday at home. 

Next Up: vs. Florida State, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

8. Virginia Tech (4-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast) ↓1

Virginia Tech lost a close game to No. 25 Liberty on Saturday. The Hokies led for the majority of the game but lost on a Liberty field goal. Officials ruled that Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente had called a timeout before a snap that resulted in the initial field goal try being blocked and run back for a Hokie touchdown. Virginia Tech will have a shot at an upset this weekend as the Hokies face No. 9 Miami at home as 2.5-point underdogs.

Next Up: vs. Miami, Saturday, 12:00 p.m.

9. Pittsburgh (4-4, 3-4 Atlantic Coast) ↑1

Pittsburgh bounced back from a 42-point loss to Notre Dame two weekends ago to secure a 41-17 victory over Florida State on Saturday. Pitt’s defense shined against the Seminoles with three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Quarterback Kenny Pickett completed 21-of-27 passes for 210 yards in his first game back from an injury sustained against BC a month ago. 

Next Up: at Georgia Tech, Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

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

Virginia’s game against Louisville was postponed last Saturday after 15 Cardinals tested positive for COVID-19. The Cavaliers sit at 10th in the ACC with a 2-4 record after a difficult first-half schedule. A 44-41 upset victory over North Carolina two weekends ago bodes well for Virginia going forward, and the Cavaliers should have an easier end to the season with games against Clemson, UNC, Miami, and Wake Forest all out of the way. After an unplanned bye weekend, Virginia will play Louisville on Saturday.

Next Up: vs. Louisville, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

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

Louisville has resumed football practices after 15 players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The Cardinals’ originally scheduled game against Virginia was canceled as a result, but all players and staff tested negative for the virus on Sunday, so they have been cleared to make up the game this Saturday. Despite having a talented team with two offensive players selected for the Preseason All-ACC Team, Louisville has just one win this year. This Saturday’s game against Virginia will give the Cardinals a chance to beat a team of similar skill and start an end-of-the-season push.

Next Up: at Virginia, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

12. Georgia Tech (2-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) ↑2

Georgia Tech enjoyed a much-needed bye week last weekend to prepare for this Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh. The Yellow Jackets have lost each of their last three games by more than 18 points and have lost two straight games to Pitt. Georgia Tech’s defense has allowed an average of 39.7 per game. Despite its pitfalls, Georgia Tech has managed two conference wins this season. Saturday’s game against Pitt will test the Yellow Jackets’ ability to compete for the remainder of the season. 

Next Up: vs. Pitt, 7:00 p.m.

13. Florida State (2-5, 1-5 Atlantic Coast) ↓2

Florida State lost its fifth conference game of the season last Saturday against Pittsburgh. The 41-17 victory was the result of an interception by each of the three Seminole quarterbacks who saw snaps Saturday. Florida State won the first down battle with 17 to Pitt’s 16, but the Seminoles could not convert first downs into points. Florida State has been blown out in its last two games and will hope to avoid a similar fate this Saturday in prime time against NC State. 

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

14. Duke (2-6, 1-6 Atlantic Coast) ↓1

Duke suffered yet another loss against North Carolina Saturday. The Blue Devils maintained their habit of turning the ball over with an interception and a fumble, and quarterback Chase Brice completed just 11-of-23 pass attempts for a dismal QB rating of 5.4. Running back Mataeo Durant, however, shined for Duke with 132 rushing yards on 11 attempts, averaging an impressive 12 yards per run. The Blue Devils get this Saturday off to prepare for rival Wake Forest in two weeks.

Next Up: Bye

15. Syracuse (1-7, 1-6 Atlantic Coast) ↔

Syracuse remains in last place in the ACC after a three-point loss to BC on Saturday. The Orange continue to struggle, with five straight losses and an average of just 18.3 points per game. Syracuse’s defense managed to hold BC to just 16 points, the second-lowest score this season for the Eagles. The Orange will use this weekend’s bye to prepare to face Louisville in two weeks.

Next Up: Bye

Featured Graphic by Emma Healy / Heights Editor

November 12, 2020