ACC Power Rankings: A lot of question marks after FSU

1. Florida State (7-0, 4-0

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 1 (W 49-17 over N.C.

State)

No

spot higher than No. 1, huh? Too bad. The Seminoles got out to a 35-0

lead over N.C. State…in the first quarter. And that was almost all she

wrote. They led 42-0 at halftime. And after watching Miami struggle

with North Carolina last week and Wake Forest this week, they have to be

licking their collective chops going into this weekend’s primetime

rivalry

matchup. 

2. Clemson (7-1, 5-1

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 2 (W 40-27 at

Maryland)

Clemson

reminds me some of last year’s Florida State team: a senior quarterback

that has all the skills and tools, but something’s just not clicking

offensively. Oh, and a defense that is fantastic up front. But the most

important way the two teams seem similar is that both play with their

proverbial food and let lesser opponents hang around too long. It was

still a 19-13 game at the end of the third quarter. Against a Maryland

team that has been ravaged by injuries. No reason to move any team ahead

of Clemson, but there’s starting to be reason for

concern. 

3. Miami (7-0, 3-0

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 4 (W 24-21 over Wake

Forest)

Well…on

the bright side, the Hurricanes have won two close ACC games the last

two weeks and had to come back from a deficit to do it. However, um, the

teams they had to do that against are a 2-5 UNC team and a Wake Forest

team that has a home loss to Louisiana-Monroe on its schedule. Miami QB

Stephen Morris still looks inaccurate, and while the Hurricanes’ running

game is fantastic, if they don’t trust Morris in a close game, what

will that

matter? 

4. Georgia Tech (5-3, 3-2

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 5 (W 35-25 at

Virginia)

I

don’t know if it says more about Georgia Tech or Virginia that the

Yellow Jackets turned it over  five times on the road and still

won by double digits. I think it says plenty about both teams, frankly.

And while I don’t know that it says anything good about either, a win

is a win and Georgia Tech has now won two

straight. 

5. Duke (6-2, 2-2

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 8 (W 13-10 at Virginia

Tech)

It

would not be overstating it to say that this win — Duke’s first over a

ranked team on the road since 1971 and first over ANY ranked team since

1994 — is the biggest in nearly 20 years. And particularly since it

makes Duke bowl eligible for the second straight year, something no Duke

coach in history has ever done prior to David Cutcliffe. Duke winning a

game like this shows that Cutcliffe is one of the best coaches in

college football, period. If you needed any additional

proof. 

6. Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 3 (L 13-10 to

Duke)

Virginia

Tech’s offense has been abysmal so many times this season that it’s

hard to believe this hasn’t happened sooner. That’s just a testament to

how brilliant its defense has been. Not many teams can limit an opponent

to one touchdown and have their offense lose them the football game,

but that’s what happened. The Hokies still have a great shot of winning

the Coastal, but they have plenty of things to get fixed up on offense.

If that’s even possible at this

point.

7. Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 9 (L 24-21 at

Miami)

Speaking

of good coaching … Jim Grobe, if you need him. In the last three

games, Grobe’s team has two convincing home wins over ACC teams and a

near-upset win over a top-ten team on the road. And his team has looked

great in all three games. And that was after a 2-3 start to the season

when outsiders were wondering if he was still a good coach after all. He

made adjustments, scrapped the option offense and his defense continues

to play out of its mind. Oh, and opponents continue to act as if the

his offensive line’s wide splits are something that has never been seen

before in

football. 

8. North Carolina (2-5, 1-3

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 13 (W 34-10 over Boston

College)

The

fact that North Carolina beat a good Boston College team by more points

than it beat Middle Tennessee State earlier this season is a pretty

good indicator of how cathartic this game was for the Tar Heels. They

needed to play well from start to finish for once, and they did. Now,

can they carry it over? They’re going to have to — bowl eligibility is

still possible, but they can only lose one more game. The back half of

the schedule includes three of the bottom five teams in these power

rankings, but one is at rival N.C. State next week. There’s no telling

in a game like

that.

9. Boston College (3-4, 1-3

ACC)


Last week’s

ranking/result: 6 (L 34-10 at North

Carolina)

In

the last four games, Boston College has one real win (over Army), two

moral victories (over FSU and Clemson) and one convincing loss (at UNC).

And while the Eagles are much more competitive and a much better team

than they were a year ago, they still have three wins over FCS

Villanova, a Wake Forest team that was still running the option, and

Army. The Virginia Tech game at home this weekend will be a huge

opportunity for the BC

Dudes. 

10. Pittsburgh (4-3, 2-3

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 7 (L 24-21 at

Navy)

Oh,

Pitt. Since beating Duke, you’ve won two games against mediocre to bad

teams at home (Virginia and Old Dominion) that were uglier than they

should have been and lost two games at Virginia Tech and then

Saturday….at Navy. I can’t figure this team out. Sometimes, that

offense looks fantastic. Other times, it has nearly double the time of

possession Navy has in the first half and puts up only 13 points on a

bad defense. And the defense, some weeks it looks good and others…no.

Your guess is as good as mine as to how good this team really is, but

safe to say that on the road, I’m more often than not going to pick

against

them.

11. Maryland (5-3, 1-3

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 10 (L 40-27 to

Clemson)

I

have no idea how Maryland managed to keep this game close going into

the fourth quarter. To be honest, I have been more impressed with Randy

Edsall over the last few seasons and what he’s been able to do to rally

his team after a rash of injuries than I have been at any other point in

his career. The Terps might get to bowl eligibility with home games

against Syracuse and BC remaining, which would be huge for their young

guys being forced into action. Either way, though, they’re just not the

same team that started out

4-0. 

12. Syracuse (3-4, 1-2

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 11

(Off)

The

back end of Syracuse’s schedule is extremely manageable, and the Orange

could get another three wins from Wake, Maryland and Pitt (not at

Florida State, though). But there’s no margin for error. And they just

don’t look like a bowl team at the moment. N.C. State was Syracuse’s

only BCS win this season, and in games against Clemson and Georgia Tech,

they lost by a combined score of 105-14. Not. Good. Syracuse has some

good pieces but is probably a year or two away from being as competitive

as it was last year under Doug

Marrone. 

13. N.C. State (3-4, 0-4

ACC) 

Last

week’s ranking/result: 12 (L 49-17 at Florida

State)

Coming

out of the game at Florida State injury-free and with some positives to

take away? The Wolfpack will take that, certainly. Obviously, the 35-0

deficit in the first quarter wasn’t very positive. But Shadrach Thornton

ended the day with 173 yards rushing, and the Wolfpack desperately

needed someone to emerge in a crowded, but ineffective, backfield.

Hosting rival UNC next weekend, obviously things get considerably easier

for the Wolfpack. QB Brandon Mitchell had a rough return to action

against that FSU defense (understandably), but he’ll need to make much

more of a positive difference against the back half of that

schedule. 

14. Virginia (2-6, 0-4

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 14 (L 35-25 to Georgia

Tech)

No,

seriously, Virginia. Arguably, your last three opponents have tried to

give you the game. Maryland had three turnovers and trailed you in time

of possession by MORE than 15 minutes. Duke trailed 22-0 in the first

half. And Georgia Tech turned it over FIVE times. Did you accept any of

these gifts? No. And this is why you can’t have nice things. We’re going

to chalk UVa’s early-season win over BYU up to weather and pretend the

Cavaliers’ only victory was over a bad FCS team in VMI. And now,

Virginia has lost five in a row with the tough part of its schedule –

Clemson, at UNC, at Miami, and Virginia Tech — remaining.

Yikes.