1. Clemson (Last Week: 27-7 W @ Boston College)
Previous Rankings: 1 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 1
Just cake-walking through this season now with Trevor Lawrence (29-of-40, 295 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) at QB. The Clemson defense racked up 4 sacks on 28 dropbacks and held AJ Dillon to just 2.4 yards/carry. Clemson has Duke and South Carolina left in the regular season, plus the ACC Championship Game against most likely Pittsburgh. Enjoy another College Football Playoff appearance, Tigers fans!
2. Syracuse (Last Week: 54-23 W vs Louisville)
Previous Rankings: 13 / 10 / 8 / 6 / 4 / 10 / 8 / 6 / 4 / 2
The Syracuse offense continued to do what it’s been doing: put up crazy amounts of yards (518 at 6.3 per play) and points (54). The Orange have now scored 40+ points in seven of their ten games this year, while being held under 30 points just once (23 points @ Clemson). That ‘Cuse defense still sucks, though, as they allowed 5.9 yards/play (including 5.2 yards/carry) to a Louisville team that has basically been mailing it in since the calendar hit October. This dream Syracuse season could come to a hard stop, though, as they finish up with Notre Dame and Boston College.
3. Pittsburgh (Last Week: 52-22 W vs Virginia Tech)
Previous Rankings: 8 / 13 / 10 / 12 / JV-NR / 9 / 13 / 12 / 9 / 5
Well, I tried to call a Pitt loss and I was flat out wrong. The Panthers averaged 13.91 yards/play (!!!!!!!) against the Hokies, just absolutely destroying everything that Bud Foster holds dear. Pitt ran for 492 yards and 6 TDs as they are now just one win away from clinching the Coastal Division title with trips to Wake Forest and Miami remaining. Quadree Ollison ran 16 times for 235 yards and 3 TDs, while backfield mate Darrin Hall ran 7 times for 186 yards and a TD.
4. Boston College (Last Week: 7-27 L vs Clemson)
Previous Rankings: 3 / 3 / 2 / 7 / 7 / 6 / 6 / 5 / 3 / 4
Boston College WITH AJ Dillon was held to just 1.98 yards/play; however, that’s not all fair as BC lost starting QB Anthony Brown way early in the game, which made the already fairly one-dimensional Eagles even more one-dimensional. BC has a date with Florida State next before a showdown with Syracuse to end the regular season, a game that will decide 2nd place in the ACC Atlantic Division.
5. Virginia (Last Week: 45-24 W vs Liberty)
Previous Rankings: 7 / 8 / 9 / 5 / 8 / 7 / 5 / 3 / 2 / 7
The Cavaliers played the Liberty Flames (yes, they’re D1-A/FBS now) in a non-conference game. Bryce Perkins wasn’t sharp, but he still accounted for 257 total yards and 4 total TDs. Jordan Ellis ran for 106 yards and a TD on 25 carries and also had 2 receptions for 39 yards. Of concern for Wahoo fans would be the UVa defense surrendering 205 yards and 3 TDs at a 4.7 yards/carry clip to a Liberty team that has struggled to run the ball all year. Virginia has to beat Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech to keep any hope alive of an ACC Championship Game appearance.
6. Duke (Last Week: 42-35 W vs North Carolina)
Previous Rankings: 4 / 4 / 5 / 2 / 6 / 5 / 3 / 8 / 10 / 8
Daniel Jones had himself a game! Jones threw for 361 yards and 3 TDs and also rushed for 186 yards and another TD as he led an overall Duke offense that averaged 7.07 yards/play against UNC-CH. He did get away with several iffy passes, but - hey - if the defense doesn’t take advantage, then it just looks like an incompletion in the scorebook!
7. Georgia Tech (Last Week: 27-21 W vs Miami)
Previous Rankings: 5 / 9 / 12 / 10 / 10 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 7 / 6
And just like that, a GT team that started off the season 1-3 is now bowl eligible. Georgia Tech only had a 40.6% post-game win expectancy in this one, but that’s just what Paul Johnson does: he finds ways to win games he shouldn’t, make bowl games, and continue coaching. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if Paul Johnson actually hates Georgia Tech and is just trying to punish them with barely-good-enough teams.
8. Miami (Last Week: 21-27 L @ Georgia Tech)
Previous Rankings: 9 / 7 / 8 / 4 / 2 / 2 / 7 / 4 / 5 / 9
Mark Richt still can’t decide on a QB and his team is still dropping games it shouldn’t (that’s four games in a row now, three of which Miami had a post-game win expectancy of >58%). Miami finishes up with Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh, and they’ll need to win one of those two to make a bowl game. We may well end up with a year in which Miami, Florida State, and Virginia Tech all fail to make a bowl game.
9. Wake Forest (Last Week: 27-23 W @ NC State)
Previous Rankings: 12 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 12 / 11 / 13 / 13 / 13
The Demon Deacons went into Raleigh with a backup QB making his first ever start and still managed to do enough to come away with the win despite holding a lead for only 30 seconds of the game (but the 30 seconds that counted the most). Jamie Newman completed 22-of-33 passes for 297 yards and 3 TDs, looking like a 1st Team All-ACC QB against a porous NC State pass defense. The Wake offense averaged 6.13 yards/play and had a success rate of 46%. The Deacs will need a win over either Pittsburgh or Duke to make a bowl game.
10. NC State (Last Week: 23-27 L vs Wake Forest)
Previous Rankings: 6 / 5 / 4 / 3 / 3 / 3 / 2 / 2 / 6 / 3
The Wolfpack’s inability to convert scoring opportunities into touchdowns finally caught up with them, as they squandered opportunity after opportunity in the worst loss under Dave Doeren. NC State enjoyed a +14 yard advantage in average starting field position in the game, but still couldn’t get it done. The offense is typically not the culprit for NC State losses, but this time it sure was. The run game averaged just 2.0 yards/carry (adjusting out the one sack) for the game. Ugh. There’s not enough alcohol to get past that horribleness.
11. North Carolina (Last Week: 35-42 L @ Duke)
Previous Rankings: 14 / JV-NR / JV-NR / 11 / JV-1 / JV-1 / 12 / 11 / 12 / 11
North Carolina averaged 6.62 yards/play against Duke, coming up just short of notching their second win of the season. Michael Carter led the way with 18 carries for 148 yards and a TD to go along with 8 receptions for 32 yards. The Tarheels haven’t lost by more than 10 points in the five games since their bye week, but they’re still 0-5 in that stretch. North Carolina plays Western Carolina next. Go Catamounts!
12. Virginia Tech (Last Week: 22-52 L @ Pittsburgh)
Previous Rankings: 2 / 2 / 3 / 13 / 5 / 4 / 4 / 7 / 8 / 10
Ryan Willis completed 22-of-34 passes for 231 yards and 3 TDs while running 16 times for 65 yards... and the team still lost by 30 points. I mean... what happened?! The Hokies ran 39 more plays than Pittsburgh and had a +1 advantage in the turnovers. How on earth does a VT defense give up 13.91 yards/play?!?! Yeesh. Bud Foster might get fired, y’all.
13. Florida State (Last Week: 13-42 L @ Notre Dame)
Previous Rankings: 10 / 12 / JV-1 / 9 / 11 / 11 / 10 / 9 / 11 / 12
Phew! Year One for Willie Taggart is definitely not going to be one to he’ll want to remember. Florida State struggled to take advantage of the scoring opportunities available to them (2.33 points per scoring opportunity on 6 opportunities), but it wouldn’t have mattered anyways as the Notre Dame offense smashed right through the Florida State defense, even without starting freshman QB sensation Ian Book. Cam Akers at least looked good, though, rushing 12 times for 63 yards and 2 TDs. Florida State now has to beat Boston College and Florida in back-to-back weeks if they hope to continue their bowl streak.
14. Louisville (Last Week: 23-54 L @ Syracuse)
Previous Rankings: 11 / 11 / 12 / 14 / 12 / JV-2 / 14 / 14 / 14 / 14