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The ACC in SP+, Week 2: Maybe the league only has one top-25 team?

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NC State climbed another spot, but like everyone not named Clemson, remains outside of the top 25.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Western Carolina at NC State Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Through two weeks, the results for the ACC are about what you’d expect: Clemson is doing its usual dominant things, and everybody else is clambering for notice. There is no doubt that the Tigers are the class of the league, but the ACC has gotten some pleasant surprises from teams like NC State, Louisville, and yes, UNC.

But SP+ isn’t buying anybody but the Tigers as a top-25 team at this early stage. Below are the league standings sorted by SP+ overall rating, with each team’s offensive and defensive SP+ ranks included as well.

ACC Standings by SP+

Team SP+ Rtg (Rank) Offense Rank Defense Rank
Team SP+ Rtg (Rank) Offense Rank Defense Rank
Clemson 30.9 (2) 15 4
Miami 11.5 (29) 43 38
NC State 11.0 (30) 58 31
Virginia 11.0 (31) 72 19
Virginia Tech 6.4 (45) 40 66
Florida State 4.7 (46) 9 109
Boston College 4.4 (48) 23 93
Wake Forest 3.9 (50) 32 88
UNC 3.7 (56) 41 79
Duke 1.5 (64) 73 53
Syracuse 0.1 (70) 85 52
Louisville -0.9 (75) 82 56
Pitt -3.1 (82) 105 42
Georgia Tech -5.5 (89) 107 51

(SP+ gives you a clean guess at the scoring margin between any two teams: take the difference between their SP+ ratings, give 2.5 points to the home team, and there is your expected scoring margin. Syracuse hosts Clemson this week for example. Take Clemson’s rating (30.8), subtract Syracuse’s (0.1+2.5HFA=2.6) and you get Clemson by 28.2. The Vegas line is currently Clemson by 27.5.)

NC State has moved up more than a dozen spots since the season began and is in the ACC’s second tier along with Virginia and Miami. SP+ sees essentially no difference between these three teams based on their early-season performance.

Florida State and Syracuse have been moving in the wrong direction since the football started, and the Orange were sent off a cliff by Maryland this past weekend. Syracuse probably isn’t this bad. FSU had been propped up in the system a bit by recruiting ranking, but the ratings better reflect where that program’s at right now.

The Noles represent the largest land of contrasts: the ACC best offense and its worst defense. The offense’s effectiveness is a great sign given how bad that team’s offensive line was last year, but the defense is attempting to prevent anyone from noticing.

UNC is off to a great start, but SP+ isn’t buying the Tar Heels just yet. Louisville has done well just to have a pulse early on, and the Cardinals might be good enough to eek out six wins and go bowling. That’s be a fine first year for Scott Satterfield.

Boston College is looking surprisingly robust at this juncture, while Pittsburgh is, well, ... is Pitt this bad? If the Panthers’ offense doesn’t pick it up, then they are in big trouble regardless, because they have Penn State and UCF coming up back-to-back, followed by a start to league play at Duke and at Syracuse.

I wish a stumbling point for Clemson were obvious already, but alas, it’s just not working out that way. Clemson is great, yes, but Clemson is fortunate, too. The Tigers exist alone as a heavyweight in the ACC—and maybe there’s not even another top-30 team in this league.