Sports, Football, Fall

ACC Power Rankings: Duke and Georgia Tech Rise While Miami Falls Heading into Week Eight

  1. Florida State (6–0, 4–0 Atlantic Coast) ↔ 

No. 4 Florida State absolutely destroyed Syracuse this past weekend to remain undefeated, flexing its explosiveness en route to the 41–3 rout. Quarterback Jordan Travis accounted for a total of three touchdowns, and star wide receiver Keon Coleman was a beast once again, finishing with 140 receiving yards and a touchdown. Mike Norvell’s team is firing on all cylinders right now with its eyes set on the College Football Playoff. Florida State hosts its third consecutive game in Week Eight.

Next Up: vs. No. 16 Duke, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

  1. North Carolina (6–0, 3–0) ↔

No. 10 North Carolina upended Miami 41–31 in Chapel Hill Saturday night to keep its record perfect. The victory marked North Carolina’s third consecutive game scoring at least 40 points. Quarterback Drake Maye tossed four touchdown passes, three of which were hauled in by Tez Walker, who dominated in his second game as a Tar Heel. Omarion Hampton ran all over the Hurricanes’ defense for 197 yards and a touchdown. UNC should continue to cruise in the coming weeks.

Next Up: vs. Virginia, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

  1. Duke (5–1, 2–0) ↑2

Mike Elko’s squad played its first game without star quarterback Riley Leonard, and the Blue Devils didn’t skip a beat. Backup quarterback Henry Belin IV only completed four passes, but two of them went for touchdowns, and Duke rushed for 196 yards as a team to get past NC State 24–3. The Blue Devils’ defense was stout and kept the Wolfpack off the scoreboard aside from a 57-yard field goal on its first drive of the game. A high-octane offense awaits Duke in its Week Eight road matchup.

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

  1. Louisville (6–1, 3–1) ↔

It seemed like No. 21 Louisville wanted to start its bye week a little too early. The Cardinals were nowhere to be found in the second half of their game at Pittsburgh this past weekend. Pitt outscored the Cardinals 24–0 after halftime, and the Panthers handed Louisville its first loss of the season 38–21. Despite holding Pitt under 300 yards of offense, Jeff Brohm’s offense disappeared and couldn’t put up any points. Quarterback Jack Plummer also turned the ball over three times, which plagued the Cardinals all day.  

Next Up: vs. Duke, Oct. 28, TBD

  1. Clemson (4–2, 2–2) ↑1

The Tigers found their footing after their Week Four loss to Florida State with victories against Syracuse and Wake Forest the following two weeks. Clemson had a break in its bye week this past weekend and is positioned to make a run in the second half of the season. But the Tigers need quarterback Cade Klubnik to be better to stack some wins down the stretch. The sophomore hasn’t posted explosive numbers and has looked mostly pedestrian against ACC competition. 

Next Up: at Miami, Saturday, 8 p.m.

  1. Miami (4–2, 0–2) ↓3

It’s been all downhill for the Hurricanes ever since Mario Cristobal’s inexplicable time management blunder late in Miami’s Week Six loss to Georgia Tech. Miami couldn’t keep up with Maye and North Carolina this past Saturday, and the Hurricanes are one of four ACC teams that are winless in conference play. Besides upsetting Texas A&M in Week Two, Miami hasn’t impressed much, but the Hurricanes have a chance to change that this weekend.  

Next Up: vs. Clemson, Saturday, 8 p.m.

  1. Georgia Tech (3–3, 2–1) ↑3

Georgia Tech might be the conference’s most frisky team. The Yellow Jackets have been feisty in most of their games and hung with some of the top teams in the country, as evidenced by their Week Six upset at Miami. Besides a clunker against Bowling Green, Brent Key’s squad has been impressive. Quarterback Haynes King has been stellar, and the Yellow Jackets are in position to contend for bowl eligibility.  

Next Up: vs. BC, Saturday, 12 p.m.

  1. NC State (4–3, 1–2) ↔

NC State fell completely flat in its Week Seven tilt against Duke, losing 24–3. The Wolfpack scored the game’s first points but couldn’t generate any other offense all game. Dave Doeren’s squad committed 11 penalties and failed to contain Duke’s offense, allowing countless explosive plays, punctuated by an 83-yard Jordan Waters rushing touchdown. Backup quarterback MJ Morris hasn’t been much of an improvement over Brennan Armstrong, who was benched after Week Five. NC State has a chance to reset during the bye week. 

Next Up: vs. Clemson, Oct. 28, TBD

  1. BC (3–3, 1–2) ↑3

The Eagles come off their bye week having won consecutive games for the first time since the 2021 season. BC’s offense is in a groove with quarterback Thomas Castellanos under center. The sophomore signal caller has made the Eagles incredibly dynamic through the air and on the ground, and a much-improved offensive line is paying dividends as well. After a troubling start to the season, BC is fully in the hunt for a bowl game now, and a favorable schedule should give it many opportunities to stack wins.  

Next Up: at Georgia Tech, Saturday, 12 p.m.

  1. Virginia Tech (3–4, 2–1) ↑1

Virginia Tech bounced back from its lopsided defeat at Florida State with a 30–13 victory against Wake Forest in Week Seven. Quarterback Kyron Drones had another superb game, throwing for 321 yards and two touchdowns, and the sophomore has emerged as one of the conference’s most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks. The Hokies have played much better since their non-conference schedule wrapped up, and they hit the bye this weekend.

Next Up: vs. Syracuse, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m.

  1. Pitt (2–4, 1–2) ↑2

The Panthers stunned high-flying Louisville this past weekend 38–21 in one of the most unexpected outcomes of the season. Pitt plugged Christian Veilleux in at quarterback for the first time all year, and he did enough to secure the Panthers’ second win of the year. Pitt’s defense kept Louisville off the board the entire second half and had a critical interception return for a touchdown to put the game away. Pat Narduzzi’s team looked completely different without Phil Jurkovec under center. 

Next Up: at Wake Forest, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

  1. Syracuse (4–3, 0–3) ↓5

Syracuse’s season is quickly falling apart after a 4–0 start to the year. The Orange was trounced by Florida State this past weekend in a blowout, 41–3. In its recent stretch against Clemson, North Carolina, and Florida State, Syracuse has been outscored by a combined 112–24 margin. It hasn’t been pretty, and Dino Babers’ squad has been non-competitive. The Orange has a chance to regroup on the bye this weekend. 

Next Up: at Virginia Tech, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m.

  1. Wake Forest (3–3, 0–3) ↓4

Wake Forest continues to trend in the wrong direction. The Demon Deacons lost their third straight game this past Saturday, falling to Virginia Tech, and remain winless in the ACC. Dave Clawson’s quarterback room is banged up, too, and he may be forced to turn to third-stringer Santino Marucci this weekend. Regardless of who is under center, the Demon Deacons need to solve their problems on offense, as they’ve failed to score over 20 points in each of the last three games.  

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

  1. Virginia (1–5, 0–2) ↔

The Cavaliers picked up their first victory of the season two weeks ago against FCS foe William & Mary before enjoying their bye week this past weekend. But Tony Elliott’s group still has to make a ton of improvements. Virginia has looked lost offensively at times this season, and it has had issues turning the ball over. Wide receiver Malik Washington, however, has been one of the lone bright spots on the offensive side of the ball. The Cavaliers have a tall task awaiting them in Week Eight as they hit the road for Chapel Hill. 

Next Up: at North Carolina, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

October 20, 2023