1. Florida State (Last Week: 45-24 W vs LSU)
The Seminoles owned the second half of their impressive win over an LSU team that many expected to compete for the SEC title this year. LSU made themselves too one dimensional, making it easier for the FSU defense, but that defense came through with big plays while Jordan Travis and the offense made the big plays of the day. This was the most impressive win of the opening weekend for the ACC, but just barely more so than that of...
2. Duke (Last Week: 28-7 W vs Clemson)
I waffled back and forth on whether to rank Duke or FSU at #1, but ultimately decided on FSU because despite holding Clemson to just 7 points, the Tigers still had the advantage in rush yards, pass yards, time of possession, and penalties. Duke was able to come up with the big plays when they needed them, but there were holes. Still, that 28-7 beating of Clemson was impressive. Duke might be more than folks thought.
3. North Carolina (Last Week: 31-17 W vs South Carolina)
The Tar Heels used a pair of 3rd quarter touchdowns to pull away from the Gamecocks in Charlotte. The big difference in this one was the ability to convert (UNC was 9-of-15 combined on 3rd and 4th downs while USC-e was 4-of-18). Surprisingly, the Tar Heels defense all but erased South Carolina’s running game, although they still allowed 353 passing yards at 9.1 yards/pass. Drake Maye threw two interceptions, but ESPN won’t tell you about those.
4. Louisville (Last Week: 39-34 W @ Georgia Tech)
Honestly, you could put the next eight teams anywhere from 4th to 12th, but the Cardinals are the only one that played against a P5 team and won, so they get the 4th spot this week. It’s obviously a bit concerning to give up 34 points to a Georgia Tech team that didn’t hit the 30 mark in a game against FBS competition all last year, but Jeff Brohm won his Louisville debut while erasing a 28-13 halftime deficit. That’s worth something.
5. Miami (Last Week: 38-3 W vs Miami (OH))
The Hurricanes did a slow cakewalk of a win over the RedHawks. Tyler Van Dyke looked more like his 2021 self than his 2022 self, which is encouraging for Year 2 under Mario Cristobal. Miami - the one from Ohio, that is - isn’t all that good, though, so there’s only so much you can learn.
6. Pittsburgh (Last Week: 45-7 W vs Wofford)
Are we supposed to have learned something here? A Pat Narduzzi coached team suffocated a lower tier opponent in an early season game. Isn’t that like an annual right of passage now?
7. Syracuse (Last Week: 65-0 W vs Colgate)
Destroyed a completely overmatched Colgate team. They held the Fighting Toothpastes to 106 total yards. Is there something to learn there? No.
8. Wake Forest (Last Week: 37-17 W vs Elon)
The Demon Deacons were up 24-0 at half and Elon didn’t get on the board until midway through the 3rd quarter. Wake’s defense did the job, including holding the Phoenix to just 2-of-16 on 3rd down conversions, although Elon was able to go 3-for-3 on 4th down conversions to keep this game from being even worse.
9. NC State (Last Week: 24-14 W @ UConn)
It wasn’t the most impressive win, and there are certainly some questions remaining after the game, but the Wolfpack went on the road and won to open the season. State didn’t throttle UConn like they did a year ago, but they also didn’t pull a Baylor or Texas Tech, and for that we should all be thankful. We’ll know more about this Pack team by Saturday night.
10. Virginia Tech (Last Week: 36-17 W vs Old Dominion)
This was a one score game until late in the 3rd quarter, and then Virginia Tech added a little breathing room in the 4th with a pair of field goals. Settling for those short field goals, though, is a little concerning. Grant Wells looked much more like his Marshall version than his 2022 VT version, which is promising. Impressive stat: VT held ODU to less than 100 yards passing, although not-so-impressively 2 of the Monarchs 13 completions went for TDs.
11. Georgia Tech (Last Week: 34-39 L vs Louisville)
The Yellow Jackets looked great in the 1st half, jumping out to a 28-13 halftime lead on Louisville before wilting away in the 2nd half. It was nonetheless an encouraging effort to the start of the first full season under Brent Key, but blowing a 15-point halftime lead at home is going to cost you in the power rankings.
12. Clemson (Last Week: 7-28 L @ Duke)
This is probably way too low considering Duke needed two Clemson fumbles from inside the 10 yard line to pull this one out. If Clemson cashes in on those two back-to-back drives, they’re up 21-13 late in the 3rd and this is likely a different outcome. Cade Klubnik looked entirely pedestrian in this one and the offense was basically just Will Shipley. Even the one Tigers touchdown was set up via an unforced Duke error. Garrett Riley’s honeymoon in Clemson is over.
13. Virginia (Last Week: 13-49 L @ Tennessee)
There is absolutely no shame in losing on the road to Tennessee. There is shame in being held to 201 total yards of offense, especially when you had the ball for almost 33 minutes of game time. If the Cavaliers offense is going to be so - apologies now for this pun - cavalier about putting points on the board, this is going to be another rough year under Tony Elliott. Next up is James Madison, Maryland, and NC State before getting to their two most winnable games of the year: Boston College and William & Mary.
14. Boston College (Last Week: 24-27 L vs Northern Illinois)
Northern Illinois went 9-5 in 2021, winning the MAC Championship. Outside of that outlier season, the Huskies are 12-22 under Thomas Hammock, including a 3-9 record a year ago. This was a bad loss for BC, but Jeff Hafley and crew have a get-right game next week against Holy Cross... and they need it.