1. Florida State (last week: 41-3 W vs Syracuse)
FSU did what was expected of them, quickly dispatching of Syracuse in an easy route. The Seminoles doubled up the Orange in total yards and played a turnover-free game. Midway through the conference slate, FSU is sitting perfect. Next up is a primetime Saturday night game against Duke.
2. North Carolina (last week: 41-31 W vs Miami)
I’ve been pounding the “weak schedule” drum for North Carolina for the last few weeks, but faced with their toughest test of the year, the Tar Heels responded with one of their best efforts. The UNC defense forced four turnovers while the offense didn’t commit one and the Heels kept the Hurricanes two possessions away for the last quarter and a half of the game. With Virginia, GT, and Campbell up next, UNC will skate to a 9-0 record before their match up with Duke.
3. Duke (last week: 24-3 W vs NC State)
Speaking of responding when needed, the question around the Blue Devils was how far the team would fall without Riley Leonard at QB. The offense struggled to continually move the ball (29.0% success rate in the game, compared to a 47.6% rate coming into the game), but they busted through with two big time explosive plays (a 69-yard TD pass and an 83-yard TD run) and converted their one forced turnover into a touchdown. With the Duke defense smothering an NC State offense that was all too willing to assist them in that effort, the game was effectively over by halftime. Next up for the Blue Devils is a road game at Florida State.
4. Clemson (last week: Bye)
Clemson was on a bye. This week they hit the road to face...
5. Miami (last week: 31-41 L @ North Carolina)
The Hurricanes had their chances on Saturday against UNC, but failed to capitalize on them in a 10-point loss. Down 7-0 early, Miami fumbled on 1st & Goal from the UNC 1. The Canes drove to the UNC 9 at the end of the first half, but had to settle for a field goal instead of being able to take additional chances at a TD thanks to mismanagement of timeouts earlier in the half. Miami is now 0-2 in ACC play with Clemson, FSU, and Louisville still on the schedule ahead of them. Count this another season where the Hurricanes will not capture an ACC title on the gridiron.
6. Pittsburgh (last week: 38-21 W vs Louisville)
Now that Pittsburgh grabbed their ACC title back in 2021, Pat Narduzzi can get back to the thing he loves more than any other: ruining someone else’s season. Louisville strolled into whatever they’re calling Heinz Field now undefeated and feeling really good about themselves. They left as Narduzzi’s latest previously-undefeated victim. For the Panthers, the win - which they managed, by the way, despite putting up just 288 yards of offense - snapped a four game losing streak. This still doesn’t look like a bowl team, and good luck finding four wins in their remaining six games, but who knows. Narduzzi hate knows no bounds.
7. Virginia Tech (last week: 30-13 W vs Wake Forest)
Well hot dang, VT! You trying to look like a real live football team or something? The Hokies have now won two of their last three games, with that loss being last week on the road at FSU. Even with that loss to the Noles mixed in, this is the best three-game stretch for VT under Brent Pry. After the Hokies loss to Marshall earlier this year, it looked like Pry would be playing out the string of a horrible year before another coaching change this offseason. Sitting at 3-4 with games still against BC, UVA, a struggling Syracuse, and an offensively challenged NC State, this could be a bowl team after all. It’s good vibes in Blacksburg heading into their bye week.
8. Louisville (last week: 21-38 @ Pittsburgh)
Like every Cardinals fan right now, I’m wondering what the hell that was, too. Louisville followed up their impressive win over Notre Dame by getting outscored 24-0 in the 2nd half by a Pitt team that lives by the motto of “offense optional”. In five games against FBS teams this year, Pitt has hit 300 yards of offense just once... a 307 yard output against UNC. To the Louisville defense’s credit, they didn’t let the Panthers hit that mark either (288 yards), but they did allow 30+ yard plays on three Pitt TD drives. The Cardinals are on a bye before hosting Duke.
9. Virginia (last week: Bye)
The Cavaliers hopefully used their bye week to figure out how to beat UNC. Let’s go, Cavs!
10. Georgia Tech (last week: Bye)
The Yellow Jackets were on a bye, and surely will continue their alternating win/loss combo going against BC this week.
11. NC State (last week: 3-24 L @ Duke)
That was about as pathetic of an offensive showing as you’re going to see. The Wolfpack’s lone points came off a program-record 57-yard field goal by Brayden Narveson, which was set up by an interception from the Wolfpack defense (the scoring “drive” went all of 0 yards). The Wolfpack actually outgained Duke (by 4 yards, but still) and had a better success rate in the game (39.0% vs 29.0%), but that’s more of a statement of the Pack’s defense than anything. NC State needs to use the bye week well and get their stuff together, because bowl eligibility looks to be slipping from their finger tips quickly.
12. Wake Forest (last week: 13-30 L @ Virginia Tech)
Woof. While not a great 3-0 start to the season, it at least looked like Wake still knew how to win games. Now having dropped three straight, this looks like it may be the worst Demon Deacons team since Dave Clawson’s first two squads each put up 3-9 (1-7) records. In the loss to VT, Wake struggled to move the ball, struggled to convert on 3rd downs, and also turned the ball over thrice. Not a good look. Getting to bowl eligibility will be a challenge.
13. Boston College (last week: Bye)
The Eagles were on a bye, but they won back-to-back games before hand (27-24 wins each over Virginia and Army) despite having a combined post-game win expectancy of 77.0% in the wins over the Cavaliers and Black Knights. Actually, BC only had a post-game win expectancy of 35.6% in their other win this year, a 31-28 win over FCS program Holy Cross. The good of that is that BC knows how to win ugly. The bad news is that that is bad. With GT, UConn, Syracuse, VT, and Pitt up next, could this be a bowl team? I wouldn’t bet on it, but I wouldn’t be against it either.
14. Syracuse (last week: 3-41 L @ Florida State)
LeQuint Allen ran for 110 yards on 19 carries... and that was the entire highlight of the afternoon for the Orange. After a 4-0 start, Syracuse has lost three in a row while averaging just 8.0 points/game in that stretch. Ouch. Granted, that was against Clemson, UNC, and FSU. The remaining schedule is conducive to a bounceback, with VT, BC, Pitt, GT, and Wake to go.