ACC Power Rankings, Week 5: UNC falls, BC rises
1. Clemson (4-0, 2-0 ACC)Last week's ranking/result: 1 (W 56-7 over Wake Forest)
Clemson struggled with N.C. State, yes. But the Tigers took care of a bad team, like they should have, and it was their largest margin of victory over an ACC team since 1999 (fourth-largest all-time). Clemson did what an elite team should do, and the Tigers continue to look like the Atlantic Division favorite. Though certainly, October 19 when FSU comes to town will paint a clearer picture.
2. Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC)Last week's ranking/result: 2 (W 48-34 at Boston College)
Had the Seminoles smoked BC and Clemson struggled with Wake, FSU would have the No. 1 spot. That didn’t happen. Florida State's 48 points were nice, obviously. But that defense allowing BC to put up a season-high 34 points -- even coming off a bye -- is kind of inexplicable. It might just be a one-week aberration, but BC still ran for 200 yards (4.4 per carry), which was at the very least eyebrow-raising.
3. Miami (4-0)Last week's ranking/result: 3 (W 49-21 at USF)
It wasn't a perfect performance by the Hurricanes in Tampa, but it was certainly good enough. The Hurricanes still turned it over too much (four times), and in all honesty, had they not beaten Florida for the resume-building win, they’d probably be below Maryland. But they did. And there's still plenty of young talent on both sides of the ball, a group that’s more than capable of winning the Coastal (especially with the way the schedule lines up).
4. Maryland (4-0)Last week's ranking/result: 4 (Off)
The only reason Maryland is still ahead of Virginia Tech is because the Terps have the offense to go with the stifling defense that Virginia Tech can only dream about. Maryland's wins haven't been all that impressive, but it has to mean something that a week after it shut out West Virginia 37-0, the Mountaineers knocked off a top-25 team.
5. Virginia Tech (4-1, 1-0 ACC) Last week's ranking/result: 6 (W 17-10 at Georgia Tech)
Virginia Tech's defense is just fantastic. Despite having just four days to get ready for Georgia Tech’s offense, defensive coordinator Bud Foster went into his bag of tricks and made it work. This is one of the best defenses in the country, and if the offense can get anything remotely resembling a rhythm going, the Hokies are going to win the Coastal easily. And this is what happens whenever we count the Hokies out, so really we should all know better.
6. Georgia Tech (3-1, 1-1 ACC)Last week's ranking/result: 5 (L 17-10 to Virginia Tech)
A home game against a Virginia Tech team that couldn't seem to move the ball offensively, facing a Hokies' defense with only a short week to prepare for the spread-option Georgia Tech attack, and the Yellow Jackets could only muster ten points. That mistake-filled performance could end up costing them the Coastal.
7. Pittsburgh (3-1, 2-1 ACC)Last week's ranking/result: T-9 (W 14-3 over Virginia)
A week after the Pitt defense gave up 55 points to Duke, it nearly shutout the Cavaliers. Virginia has struggled to move the ball all year, but that's still pretty impressive by the Panthers. Oh, and they're now 2-1 in the league with the only loss coming to Florida State, beating the teams they should beat and in pretty good position in the topsy-turvy Coastal.
8. N.C. State (3-1, 0-1 ACC)Last week's ranking/result: 8 (W 48-14 over Central Michigan)
Central Michigan is horrendous, but NC State is 3-1 and still has the good performance against Clemson as proof of what the Wolfpack can do. Now, they need to go play a horrendous Wake Forest team this weekend (which will be NC State's first road game this season) and take care of business. That's been easier said than done in the past.
9. Boston College (2-2, 1-1 ACC)Last week's ranking/result: 13 (L 48-34 to Florida State)
It's just one game, yes. But clearly, BC head coach Steve Addazio had the Eagles ready to play. Florida State's defense has a lot of talent, and the Eagles were able to move the ball very effectively on the Seminoles. That's a very encouraging sign moving forward, certainly for the program in general if not just for this season. Being in that game at the end is more than anyone could have hoped for.
10. Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC)Last week's ranking/result: T-9 (L 14-3 at Pitt)
In three games against FBS opponents, Virginia's offense has a total of 32 points. There were 11 other ACC teams in action this week, and six of those teams scored 32 or more (seven scored 31 or more) this week alone. But if you take out the Oregon loss, Virginia's defense has been quite good -- no other FBS opponent has cracked 20 against the Cavaliers, and they held a Pitt offense that had 58 points the week before to just 14. The offense is awful, but the defense will keep them in games. Maybe the offense will turn it around. Maybe.
T-11. Duke (3-2, 0-2 ACC) Last week's ranking/result: 12 (W 38-31 over Troy)
Duke's home win over Troy (by a mere seven points) is not enough to put the Blue Devils a full spot above Syracuse. Even though it's probably Duke’s best win this season. Duke's defense has plenty of experience - it's just not very good, and it likely won't be very good this season. And so the offense will have to outscore everyone. Based on what Brandon Connette and the offense was able to do in his third full-game start, the Blue Devils might just be able to do that.
T-11. Syracuse (2-2)Last week's ranking/result: 11 (Off)
Syracuse didn't deserve to fall a spot for not playing last week. And, as stated above, Duke's win wasn’t enough to knock the Orange out of the No. 11 spot. But it's not like Syracuse has really beaten anyone, either (Tulane and Wagner). Still, Syracuse's offense is playing much better and the defense is certainly friskier than Duke's. The Orange just need to play and compete with someone better than Wagner or Tulane to move up further.
13. North Carolina (1-3, 0-1 ACC)Last week's ranking/result: 7 (55-31 to East Carolina)
At a certain point, it's time to stop ranking North Carolina based on what it should be doing or could be doing, and rank it based on what it IS doing/has done. Right now, the answer is a 20-point home win over a mediocre-at-best Middle Tennessee State team, and three losses. And this week's blowout loss at home to an in-state C-USA team (albeit a very good one in ECU) might be the worst thing a non-Wake Forest ACC team has done this year.
14. Wake Forest (2-3, 0-2 ACC)Last week's ranking/result: 14 (L 56-7 at Clemson)
Remember when the Deacs used to be competitive? It's not like Wake Forest played all that terribly at Clemson last weekend -- it just can't compete at that level anymore. And that's the biggest reason the Deacs are likely going to stay in this spot all season.