Last week’s ranking/result: 1 (W 41-14 over Miami)
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Still no ranking higher than 1, which is too bad. Florida State struggled to pull away from Miami early, Jameis Winston looked as close to a freshman as he has all season, Miami played great….and Florida State won by 27 points. Over a top-ten and previously undefeated team. You’ve got to be kidding me. This team is a machine.
2. Clemson (8-1, 6-1 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 2 (W 59-10 at Virginia)
After struggling a bit with Maryland last week, Clemson showed that it is still one of the better teams in the country with its 59-10 thrashing of Virginia. Virginia is bad, yes, but Clemson did what it was supposed to do and played very well. Oh, and the Tigers are starting to get their ground game going, which is great news for that offense.
3. Miami (7-1, 3-1 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 3 (L 41-14 at Florida State)
The Hurricanes played well in the loss at Florida State. Stephen Morris reminded us all why he was supposed to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league, the Miami defense stepped up (especially early)…and the Hurricanes still lost by 27. That says a TON more about Florida State than it does about Miami. Particularly considering the Canes’ recent struggles against UNC/Wake Forest, it is a great sign that they played that way against FSU. It means they’re learning from their mistakes in past weeks and while they may be a year or two away from truly elite status, they’re on their way.
4. Georgia Tech (6-3, 4-2 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 4 (W 21-10 over Pittsburgh)
Georgia Tech is almost certainly out of the running in the Coastal Division, but the often-confusing Yellow Jackets are at least trending in the right direction with three straight wins. For the most part, Georgia Tech has beaten opponents it is better than and lost to superior opponents, which is certainly not the way of the ACC generally. But the best sign for Georgia Tech moving forward this season and into next is that the defense under first-year coordinator Ted Roof looks better and better every week.
5. Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result:5 (Off)
Can’t play the ‘what if’ game, but if Duke had starting quarterback Anthony Boone when it faced Georgia Tech and Pitt…well, I’m not saying the Blue Devils would be undefeated, but…okay, we won’t go down that road. It’s hard not to, though, because the Blue Devils currently control their own destiny in the ACC Coastal. Win out, and they win the Division. They’d have to beat Miami at home to do it, but it’s certainly not out of the question considering Miami’s recent personnel losses. It’s likely not going to happen, but the only certainty that matters is Duke is bowl-eligible for its second straight season and the Blue Devils have a very manageable November schedule, unlike last year. Next step for David Cutcliffe as he builds this program is winning some November games. And maybe a “state championship”.
*Note: After Duke, we have the whole BC-UNC-Virginia Tech conundrum, which, if nothing else, proves that the transitive property is worthless.
T-6. Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 6 (L 34-27 at Boston College)
Best win: at Georgia Tech
Combined record of teams VT has lost to: 18-6 (0.750) (No. 1 Alabama)
Combined record of teams VT has beaten: 26-24 (24-17 without FCS Western Carolina)
Last three games: 1-2
Virginia Tech’s resume is better than UNC or BC, but the last two weeks have been really bad. The Hokies can’t move the ball on offense (or they just turn it over), and this fantastic defense continues to be wasted. It allowed 34 points, yes, but 17 of those were off of one pick six and two drives that started in Virginia Tech’s red zone. And now, the Hokies get an angry Miami team on Saturday on the road.
T-6. Boston College (4-4, 2-3 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 9 (W 34-27 over Virginia Tech)
Best win: Virginia Tech
Combined record of teams BC has lost to: 25-9 (.735) (No. 3 FSU, No. 8 Clemson)
Combined record of teams BC has beaten: 17-19 (13-14 without FCS Villanova)
Last three games: 1-2
Neither BC nor UNC has a great win, really, although BC’s win over Virginia Tech is better than any of UNC’s wins. But UNC beat BC handily just last week. Hard to dismiss that. BC doesn’t have a loss as bad as UNC’s to ECU, but again, BC lost to…UNC. Just can’t get around it. Otherwise, BC’s resume is certainly strong enough to justify being ahead of the Tar Heels with the way they’ve performed, even in losses (like Florida State and Clemson). But, you know. That whole losing to UNC by 24 points thing is a thing, so.
T-6. North Carolina (3-5, 2-3 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 8 (W 27-19 at N.C. State)
Best win: Boston College
Combined record of teams UNC has lost to: 32-11 (0.744) (No. 6 South Carolina, No. 7 Miami)
Combined record of teams UNC has beaten: 12-13
Last three games: 2-1
It’s hard to justify moving UNC ahead of either Virginia Tech or BC, considering it lost to Virginia Tech and BC is its best win. Even if it was a dominating one. But the Tar Heels stay tied with those teams in part because of that win, and also in part because they are playing better than those teams the last three games. UNC is going to have a lot of ground to make up the next few weeks, but if it continues to play better football, the schedule is conducive to at least making a push for bowl eligibility.
9. Pittsburgh (4-4, 2-4 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 10 (L 21-10 at Georgia Tech)
After a loss at Navy, Pitt rebounded pretty well with a close loss at a Georgia Tech team that has been playing great the last few weeks. But ultimately, Pitt is 1-3 in its last four games and the offense has gotten progressively worse each week. That offensive line is who we thought it would be at the beginning of the year, and while Georgia Tech’s run defense is good, -5 yards against an ACC opponent is not going to get it done.
10. Syracuse (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 12 (W 13-0 over Wake Forest)
Syracuse has four wins this season over teams with a combined 15-15 record. The best team it has beaten is arguably 6-3 Tulane (from CUSA). And Syracuse’s two ACC losses have been by a combined 91 points. But Syracuse did what it needed to do at home against a Wake Forest team that was playing well coming into the game. Throw out the FSU game in two weeks – at Maryland, Pitt at home and BC at home are winnable. A bowl is still a possibility for the Orange.
11. Wake Forest (4-5, 2-4 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 7 (L 13-0 at Syracuse)
Wake Forest took a huge tumble this week, and that’s mainly because the Deacs lost wide receiver Michael Campanaro for the season with a broken collarbone. The offense, which wasn’t great to begin with, is absolutely crippled without him. There’s just no way to bounce back from that, although Wake’s defense continues to get better each week.
12. Maryland (5-3, 1-3 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 11 (Off)
Maryland showed a lot of fight last week against Clemson, but ultimately the Terps are just too decimated by injuries to be any higher. They’re trending in the wrong direction fast.
13. N.C. State (3-5, 0-5 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 13 (L 27-19 to North Carolina)
Many, myself included, thought the Wolfpack would look a lot better on offense when it got starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell back. Welp. Mitchell has shown flashes, but he has been inaccurate and doesn’t seem like the guy that can get the offense reenergized. And fixing the offense might be a project too big for Dave Doeren, Matt Canada and company this year anyway.
14. Virginia (2-7, 0-5 ACC)
Last week’s ranking/result: 14 (L 59-10 to Clemson)
Is there really anything to add here? The Cavaliers might not win again this season, and their best chance is next week at a UNC team that has won two in a row.