1. Clemson (3-0, won at Louisville 20-17
Somebody has to be number one, so why not Clemson, who edged Louisville out on Thursday night. Clemson’s defense held Louisville to just ten points (the other seven were scored on a kickoff return), but had to hang on to leave Louisville with a W. They slide into the top spot in an ACC race that looks increasingly wide open.
2. Florida State (3-0, won at Boston College 14-0)
Florida State’s performance in Chestnut Hill wasn’t particularly impressive, but they found a way to get the job done, which is something the Noles have become known for. Their defense completely stifled an unimpressive BC offense, holding them under 200 yards. The problem for FSU if that their offense wasn’t much better.
3. Georgia Tech (2-1, lost at Notre Dame 22-30)
Georgia Tech scored 15 points in 26 seconds during the final minute of the game, but the other 59 minutes were controlled by the Irish. The Jackets averaged less than five yards per rush as they scored a meager seven points through the first 59 minutes of the game. Georgia Tech is still a major player in the ACC race, but they cannot afford to lose again if they want a shot at the playoff.
4. NC State (3-0, won at Old Dominion 38-14)
State took care of business in what many viewed as a trap game for the Wolfpack. The young defensive line played very well and the offense’s potential is evident. There’s no denying that the Pack have things that need fixing, but they might be the best bet for the dark horse title contender role to this point.
5. Duke (2-1, lost to Northwestern)
It’s tough to drop Duke down a spot after a loss to a ranked opponent, but they didn’t do a lot to help themselves this weekend. Sirk averaged an impressively small 3.8 yards per pass attempt and the Blue Devils had three giveaways. We’ll see what kind of shot they have at the Coastal when they meet the Yellow Jackets next weekend.
6. Virginia Tech (2-1, won at Purdue 51-24)
Virginia Tech holds steady at number six after they went on the road and took care of an inferior opponent. Motley threw two touchdowns and ran another as he seems to be doing well in replacement of the injured Brewer. The defense played better than those 24 points indicate, as Purdue’s touchdowns came on a fumble return and in garbage time.
7. Miami (3-0, won over Nebraska 36-33)
Putting some faith in Miami by moving them up here. They thoroughly dominated Nebraska for three quarters, but unfortunately forgot that there was a fourth quarter. Yes this was an epic meltdown and yes they were lucky to pull off the win, but If the first three quarters Miami is the real Miami team then they might finally be getting somewhere.
8. North Carolina (2-1, won over Illinois 48-14)
UNC dispatched of Illinois fairly easily. The defense held the Illini to only seven meaningful points while Illinois did less than nothing to help their cause. UNC let them hang around for a while before blowing the game open in the second half, and they are neck and neck with Miami right now.
9. Pitt (2-1, lost at Iowa 24-27)
Pitt holds onto the ninth spot after losing to Iowa on a game winning field goal. The game would’ve gone to overtime had Pat Narduzzi not called a timeout to ice the kicker, who promptly missed his practice kick before drilling the one that counted. Their ACC slate begins in two weeks when they travel to Blacksburg.
10a. Boston College (2-1, lost to Florida State 0-14)
BC steals Virginia’s spot in the tie for tenth this week after they hung in with FSU for nearly sixty minutes on Friday. Their defense was outstanding and it actually provided the eagles with by far their best chance to score, when they nearly sack Golson for a safety. The problem for BC going forward will obviously be the offense, who technically scored negative seven points in the game. Now they’ll be dealing with a backup quarterback as well, but have faith in Steve Addazio and his dudes.
10b. Louisville (0-3, lost to Clemson 17-20)
It’s still probably true that Louisville is a better team than this ranking, but at some point they need to win a game. They hung in with Clemson right until the end but came up just short. They’ll go to 1-3 next week against Samford.
12. Virginia (1-2, won over William & Mary 35-29)
Virginia, you make no sense. One week after coming so so close to knocking off top 15 Notre Dame, the Cavaliers beat FCS William & Mary by six. They didn’t open a double digit lead until the third quarter when a punt return made it 35-20, and then they failed to score a point the rest of the game. Expect to have no idea what to expect when the Hoos take on Boise State next week.
13. Syracuse (3-0, won over Central Michigan 30-27)
Syracuse looked they might handle Central Michigan and cruise to 3-0 after they took a 24-10 lead into the half. They ended up gutting out an overtime victory to get to 3-0. A bowl game may not be impossible for Syracuse, but being 4-0 will be. They play LSU next week.
14. Wake Forest (2-1, won at Army 17-14)
Freshman quarterback Kendall Hinton added something of a spark to the offense with his legs as he rushed for over 100 yards. His two interceptions helped Army keep their chances alive but the Deacs eventually pulled it out at the buzzer with a field goal.