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ACC Power Rankings - Week 5

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Sizing up the ACC football family

North Carolina v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

1. Clemson (Last Week: 27-23 W vs Syracuse)

Previous Rankings: 1 / 1 / 1 / 1

The QB that led your team to a playoff appearance last year transfers out mid-week, then you lose your star stud shampoo commercial-starring freshman QB to a concussion before half time against a fiesty team that beat you last year, and yet you still notch the come-from-behind victory? Yeah, Dabo pulled some more magic out of his rear end (although Clemson played the better game overall), but that’s an impressive win given the circumstances. The Clemson offense became one-dimensional once Trevor Lawrence went out, but Travis Etienne (203 yards and 3 TDs) and the running game kept the Tigers in it while Chase Brice (7-of-13, 83 yards, 1 INT) did just enough passing the ball when thrust into duty to keep the team unbeaten.

2. Miami (Last Week: 47-10 W vs North Carolina)

Previous Rankings: 9 / 7 / 8 / 4

That LSU loss seems like a distant memory now with how the Hurricanes are playing, but there are some questions on that offense that the defense (led by former NC State assistant coach Manny Diaz) is covering for. The Turnover Chains notched a buttload of... uhh... turnovers in this game against a hapless UNC-CH squad, including a trio of defensive touchdowns. Miami averaged 7.7 yards per play in the game and outgained UNC-CH 354-to-329 despite running 29 fewer plays. RBs DJ Dallas and Travis Homer are really friggin good, combining for 202 yards on 25 carries.

3. NC State (Last Week: 35-21 W vs Virginia)

Previous Rankings: 6 / 5 / 4 / 3

One of only two teams that can legitimately make a claim to this spot, the Wolfpack are playing very well right now, with everything but kickoff coverage clicking. There’s potentially an answer at hand for the running game woes (hello, Ricky Person, Jr.), and that makes the State offense even more dynamic. Virginia isn’t a killer this year, but this is the best UVa team in a long time, which makes that a very solid win by the Wolfpack.

4. Syracuse (Last Week: 23-27 L @ Clemson)

Previous Rankings: 13 / 10 / 8 / 6

Syracuse almost pulled off an upset of Clemson for the second straight year, this time in Death Valley; however, with Clemson down to essentially their 3rd string QB, Syracuse couldn’t hold off the Fightin’ Dabos and they let the big win get away. That Syracuse defense still has some issues, as a one-dimensional Clemson offense still racked up a 6.6 yards per carry average (sack adjusted) on the ground. To their credit, though, the ‘Cuse defensive line, led by Junior DE Kendall Coleman (7.0 Tackles, 2.0 Sacks) was able to generate pressure in the passing game. The Orangemen look like - at worst - the 3rd best team in the Atlantic this year. Babers is starting to get that program moving.

5. Virginia Tech (Last Week: 31-14 W @ Duke)

Previous Rankings: 2 / 2 / 3 / 13

That was an impressive bounce-back from that hilariously awful Old Dominion loss last week. That loss to ODU will hang over VT’s head for the remainder of the year (and probably longer - especially if ODU continues to lose), but more wins like the one this past week over a strong Duke team will help the team get over it in the eyes of the voters. Junior Kansas transfer QB Ryan Willis, in his first start filling in for injured starter Josh Jackson, looked solid, passing for 332 yards and 3 TDs on a Duke defense that hadn’t previously allowed a 300-yard passer or more than 1 passing TD in a game this year. The Hokies are now 2-0 in the ACC and on a likely collision course with Miami for a mid-November defacto Coastal Division Championship match-up with Miami.

6. Duke (Last Week: 14-31 L vs Virginia Tech)

Previous Rankings: 4 / 4 / 5 / 2

Maybe David Cutcliffe should have followed the ODU game plan? Look, there’s no shame in losing to Virginia Tech and getting your offense shut down by a Bud Foster defense, but you would think that Duke could have put up a few more points given the vulnerabilities of the VT defense revealed the previous week. Daniel Jones (23-of-35, 226 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) returned from injury earlier than expected and looked decent enough, but the running game wasn’t there to support him and - let’s face it - Bud Foster ain’t gonna get beat the same way twice.

7. Boston College (Last Week: 45-35 W vs Temple)

Previous Rankings: 3 / 3 / 2 / 7

Temple isn’t a pushover (although they did lose to cross-town Philadelphia rival and D1-AA/FCS foe Villanova earlier this year), but they’re not a team that Boston College should struggle to put away. But that’s not the biggest concern for BC coming out of this game; that title would belong to the ankle injury suffered by All-Everything RB AJ Dillon (161 yards, 2 TDs before leaving the game). The true extent of the injury hasn’t been revealed yet, but should Dillon miss time, that puts a serious damper in BC’s offense. Granted, QB Anthony Brown (15-of-33, 139, 2 TDs) has the ability to carry the offense from time to time, but a lot of his success to this point has been set up from the running success/threat of Dillon, not to mention that Brown is lacking the running ability he had from his freshman year as he is still getting back to form from his season-ending knee injury suffered in last year’s game against NC State. Dillon’s back-up, JR Ben Glines (a converted WR), looked good in his time running the ball this week (23 carries, 120 yards, 1 TD), but the experience and talent is a significant drop-off (and that’s not intended to be an insult to Glines, but a compliment to Dillon and his incredible abilities).

8. Virginia (Last Week: 21-35 L @ NC State)

Previous Rankings: 7 / 8 / 9 / 5

The Wahoos lost on the road at NC State, but this is a team that should make some noise in the Coastal Division as long as injuries are kept to a minimum. The death knell for this UVa team will be having to play from behind, as their offensive line isn’t built (yet) to allow enough time for QB Bryce Perkins to pick apart a defense. If Virginia can stick within a possession of their opponents, though, then the running game stays in play and this team can hang with anyone on their schedule. This is at least a 7-win (4-win ACC) UVa team.

9. Wake Forest (Last Week: 56-24 W vs Rice)

Previous Rankings: 12 / 6 / 7 / 8

Wake stepped out of conference for a Battle of the Nerds versus Rice. Rice is horrendous at football, but if last week’s Virginia Tech performance taught us anything, it’s that putting away the teams you’re supposed to put away is not a task to be taken for granted. QB Sam Hartman had about as good of a game as you’ll ever see: 15-of-17 for 241 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs. Greg Dortch hauled in all four of those TDs among his 11 catches for 163 yards. Despite the destruction leveled on the Owls, the jury is still out on Wake.

10. Georgia Tech (Last Week: 63-17 W vs Bowling Green)

Previous Rankings: 5 / 9 / 12 / 10

The Yellow Jackets’ offense obliterated a completely over-matched Bowling Green team, posting an absurd 9.5 yards per play and limiting Bowling Green to 4.5 yards per play. Tobias Oliver and Jordan Mason combined for 14 carries, 176 yards, and 4 TDs. This game just serves to show how scary that GT offense can be when it’s truly clicking, but nothing else as Bowling Green is one of the worst D1-A/FBS teams.

11. Florida State (Last Week: 28-24 W @ Louisville)

Previous Rankings: 10 / 12 / JV-1 / 9

Florida State won the conference pillow fight of the week, riding three second half TD passes from Deondre Francois (he had 4 total passing TDs among his 16-of-27, 294 yard effort), with the game winner being a 58-yarder to Nyqwan Murray with 1:13 left in the contest. Cam Akers struggled for the second straight game, averaging just 2.5 yards per carry on 17 totes. That’s probably more of an indictment of the FSU O-line (although they didn’t allow a sack for once!) than it is a statement on Akers abilities.

12. Louisville (Last Week: 24-28 L vs Florida State)

Previous Rankings: 11 / 11 / 12 / 14

The Cardinals didn’t trail Florida State until the last 1:13 of the game, and squandered a 4th quarter 10-point lead to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. How did Louisville manage that? Well, when you average just 3 points per scoring opportunity on eight opportunities while your opponent averages 7 points per scoring opportunity on four opportunities, it doesn’t really take a math major to figure that one out. Louisville has problems. They must, however, be thankful for the...

ACC JV Division

1. North Carolina (Last Week: 10-47 L @ Miami)

Previous Rankings: 14 / JV-NR / JV-NR / 11

It’s either really impressive or really sad when your offense allows as many touchdowns as your defense. In this case, it’s really sad... at least for UNC-CH; for everyone else, it was highly enjoyable. The Tarheels had five scoring opportunities in the game and managed just 10 points from those opportunities. Welp, Heels, it’s back to the ACC JV Division you go, but at least you’re ranked #1 there because...

NR. Pittsburgh (Last Week: 14-45 L @ Central Florida)

Previous Rankings: 8 / 13 / 10 / 12

Pitt... did yall forget how to football? UCF absolutely destroyed the Panthers in every phase of the game. Pitt is currently sitting at 2-2, but it’s becoming really hard to see another win on their schedule.