1. Clemson (6–0, 4–0 Atlantic Coast) ↔
No. 4 Clemson remains the team to beat in the ACC after a first-half scare at Alumni Stadium turned into a blowout on Saturday. The Tigers’ game against BC proved that Clemson can face adversity and still come up with a win. The Tigers are the ACC’s only true contender for a spot in the College Football Playoff, but they’ll need to win out to make a strong case. With Clemson’s two biggest tests, Wake Forest and NC State, behind it, its path to the Playoff isn’t too strenuous. Week Seven on the road in Tallahassee is somewhat of a trap game for the Tigers, however. They’ll need to get through the Seminoles and No. 18 Syracuse to reach their Week Nine bye.
Next Up: at Florida State, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
2. Wake Forest (5–1, 1–1) ↔
Wake has rebounded quickly from its sole loss of the season to Clemson in Week Four. The No. 14 Demon Deacons beat Army at home last week by a wide margin, so quarterback Sam Hartman’s stat sheet wasn’t filled with ridiculous numbers like it usually is in Wake’s competitive games. The Demon Deacons’ season is definitely not lost after just one loss, so their upcoming bye week should provide an opportunity to rest and look ahead to the second half of their season.
Next Up: vs. Boston College, Oct. 22 at 3:30 p.m.
3. NC State (5–1, 1–1) ↔
The No. 15 Wolfpack had a grueling last two weeks. After a loss to Clemson in Week Five, NC State put up 16 unanswered points to narrowly win at home against Florida State. Quarterback Devin Leary struggled against the Seminoles, completing less than half of his passes and throwing for just 130 yards. The Wolfpack continues in a tough stretch of its schedule as it’ll go on the road in Week Seven to play No. 18 Syracuse, which is having one of its best seasons in decades.
Next Up: at Syracuse, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
4. Syracuse (5–0, 2–0) ↔
In contrast to NC State, Syracuse could not be in a better position right now. Few expected Syracuse to be 5–0 at this point, but the Orange are garnering national attention with Garrett Shrader and Sean Tucker having breakout seasons. Syracuse’s next two games will determine whether or not the Orange are legit, as they take on NC State and Clemson. The Orange have had a bye week to prepare for what should be the best game in the ACC this week as they host the Wolfpack.
Next Up: vs. NC State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
5. North Carolina (5–1, 2–0) ↑1
The Tar Heels have had an up-and-down season this year, but they still have just one loss. North Carolina continued its trend of close wins with a three-point win over Miami in Week Six. The Tar Heels’ secondary allowed 496 passing yards from Tyler Van Dyke, whose previous season high was 241 yards against Southern Mississippi. Quarterback Drake Maye, younger brother of former Tar Heels basketball star Luke Maye, has impressed this season, averaging 317 yards per game.
Next Up: at Duke, Saturday, 8 p.m.
6. Florida State (4–2, 2–2) ↓1
A two-game losing streak dropped the Seminoles down and killed any momentum they gained from dismantling BC in Week Four. Florida State’s last two losses have been close games against two of the top teams in the conference—NC State and Wake Forest—so it’s hard to say that the Seminoles are truly struggling. A win at home against undefeated Clemson on Saturday may make up for those two losses.
Next Up: vs. Clemson, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
7. Pittsburgh (4–2, 1–1) ↔
The Panthers beating Virginia Tech in Week Five was not exactly a surprise, but Israel Abanikanda’s stat line certainly was. The running back ran for 320 yards against the Hokies after totaling just 31 the week prior. He has helped ease the Panthers’ quarterback transition from now-Steelers QB Kenny Pickett to USC transfer Kedon Slovis.
Next Up: at Louisville, Oct. 22, 8 p.m.
8. Duke (4–2, 1–1) ↔
Duke suffered a brutal overtime loss against Georgia Tech in its last game, but it has a chance to rebound and continue its surprising season in Week Seven. The Blue Devils will face their long-time rival North Carolina and its explosive offense, and they need to pull out all the stops on offense to keep up with Maye and the Tar Heels.
Next Up: vs. North Carolina, Saturday, 8 p.m.
9. Georgia Tech (3–3, 2–1) ↑2
Georgia Tech has climbed up the conference’s ranks over the past few weeks, and earning a stunning win over Pitt in Week Five and another win against Duke in Week Six put the Yellow Jackets on their first win streak of the year. This newfound momentum will keep eyes on a Georgia Tech team that didn’t previously have many on it.
Next Up: vs. Virginia, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.
10. Louisville (3–3, 1–3) ↑4
The Cardinals needed a bounce back game after losing their game—and their starting quarterback Malik Cunningham—against BC. Louisville took care of business at Virginia by dominating in the trenches, outrushing the Cavaliers with 198 yards to the Hoos’ six. Backup quarterback Brock Domann played well enough for the Cardinals to cruise to a 17-point win. After a bye in Week Seven, five of the Cardinals’ remaining six opponents—Wake Forest, James Madison, Clemson, NC State, and Kentucky—are currently ranked in the AP Top 25.
Next Up: vs. Pitt, Oct. 22, 8 p.m.
11. Virginia Tech (2–4, 1–2) ↓1
The Hokies have dropped their last three games, and their only win other than against BC came against Wofford. The Hokies’ game against Miami next week will be an opportunity for both teams to try to get their seasons back on track.
Next Up: vs. Miami, Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
12. Miami (2–3, 0–1) ↓3
The Hurricanes have fallen far below their preseason ranking. Though Van Dyke nearly led them to a victory over North Carolina last week, an interception in Tar Heel territory with less than a minute to go sealed a third straight loss for Miami. It is still early for the Hurricanes, but it seems like it’s already too late for them to live up to their hype.
Next up: at Virginia Tech, Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
13. Boston College (2–4, 1–3) ↔
The Eagles came up short in the Red Bandanna Game against Clemson. BC showed a lot of fight against the Tigers, however, and it was either tied or a one-possession game for the entire first half. It will be a battle for the Eagles to get to bowl eligibility this year, and that outlook at the bye is definitely not where most Eagles fans wanted to be going into the season.
Next Up: at Wake Forest, Oct. 22, 3:30 p.m.
14. Virginia (2–4, 0–3) ↓2
The Cavaliers haven’t been living up to expectations, especially with a quarterback as talented as Brennan Armstrong. The senior has had no one to throw to, and Virginia has fallen four times this year. The Cavaliers haven’t beaten an FBS team yet this season, with their two wins coming against Richmond and Old Dominion. This appears to be another lost season in Charlottesville, with the only thing left to determine being whether or not Virginia can win an ACC game.
Next Up: at Georgia Tech, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.