[Horizontal red lines indicate tiers]
1. Clemson (last week: 21-20 W @ North Carolina)
Previous Rankings: 1, 1, 1, 1
The Tigers played incredibly conservative offensively in Chapel Hill and almost got saddled with a loss because of it. Not sure why the offensive gameplan was so bland - almost like Dabo tied a hand behind his team’s back just to make it more difficult. Wins are wins, though, and considering that’s all this team has done in ACC play for a long time now, they maintain their #1 spot. Clemson gets a week off before hosting Florida State.
2. Duke (last week: 45-10 W @ Virginia Tech)
Previous Rankings: 13, 8, 5, 4
After getting off to a sluggish offensive start in Blacksburg, Duke turned it on and throttled the Hokies the rest of the way. Quentin Harris was 20-of-27 passing for 163 yards and 2 TDs while also running 17 times for 100 yards and another TD, all while not turning the ball over once. The Blue Devils host Pitt this week.
3. Wake Forest (last week: 27-24 W @ Boston College)
Previous Rankings: 5, 3, 3, 2
The Deacs jumped out to an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter and then played like total dog doo-doo the rest of the way, but did manage to still pull out the win. Wake was outgained by 93 yards and over 2.0 yards/play in the game... and still won. Jamie Newman threw for 243 yards and 2 TDs (and 1 INT) while running for 102 yards. He’s still a very good QB. The Deacons D has some issues, though. Wake is off this week before hosting Louisville.
4. North Carolina (last week: 20-21 L vs Clemson)
Previous Rankings: 8, 6, 4, 9
UNC came thiiiiiiis close to pulling off a massive upset, but their failed two-point conversion doomed them back into the ‘L’ column for the third straight week. The Tar Heels offense was rather weak in this one, averaging just 4.6 yards/play, but they scored a TD on every drive they got into scoring position, so that’s how they nearly managed the upset. Thankfully, Mack Brown still doesn’t know how to run an offense. The UNC RBs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams averaged 5.69 yards every time they were handed the ball (26 carries total), but Brown & Co. kept the game in the hands of a true freshman QB who averaged less than 5.00 yards every time the play was in his hands (27 passes, 5 rushes). The Tar Heels head to Atlanta to take on the 2019 ACC bottom-feeder.
5. Virginia (last week: 20-35 L @ Notre Dame)
Previous Rankings: 3, 2, 2, 5
Virginia went on the road to face Notre Dame in South Bend and actually held a 17-14 halftime lead, but the Irish pulled away in the 2nd half to cruise to the win. There’s certainly no shame in losing to a solid ND program, but - man - how is the Cavaliers offense this bad with such a dynamic QB at their disposal?! UVa has the 90th ranked offense according to SP+. Offensive line woes (the lack of a running attack and the inability to keep the QB from getting knocked around) are the main culprit. The Wahoos have a bye to regroup this week and then head to Miami for a Friday night showdown.
6. Miami (last week: BYE)
Previous Rankings: 9, 10, 6, 13
Time heals all wounds... and helps forget about shamefully poor performances against weak Central Michigan teams. Struggles of other conference foes help that as well. A visit this week from the dumpster fire that is Virginia Tech should also help to put that memory in the past.
7. Syracuse (last week: 41-3 W vs Holy Cross)
Previous Ranking: 6, 14, 12, 6
Whether or not Syracuse has actually put their Week 2 and 3 embarrassments behind them is yet to be seen, but the Orange have looked pretty good the last two weeks, even if it has been against less-than-competitive... errr... competition. Over those two games, Tommy DeVito has thrown for 556 yards, 8 TDs, and just 1 INT. More importantly for Syracuse is that the defense was all over the field in this one, registering 10 TFL, 5 sacks, and breaking up 8 passes. A prime-time Thursday night game in Raleigh awaits the Orange after their bye this week.
8. Boston College (last week: 24-27 L vs Wake Forest)
Previous Rankings: 4, 5, 13, 10
Dang if the Eagles didn’t deserve that win... but then again, there are no moral victories, so have another ‘L’, BC. A.J. Dillon ran for 159 yards and hauled in one pass for another 33 yards, but he can’t do it all for this team. Scoring only 24 points while gaining 533 yards is impressive in the bad way. Anthony Brown’s overall numbers look good (21-of-29, 265 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs), but when you look at his passing downs numbers (8-of-13, 75 yards, 1 INT) it becomes a little more clear why the Eagles struggled to put the ball in the end zone. Boston College heads to Louisville for what should be a good match-up this weekend.
9. Florida State (last week: 31-13 W vs NC State)
Previous Rankings: 10, 12, 9, 7
FSU slowly pulled away from NC State last week, using a big 3rd quarter from both sides of the ball to put the game away. The offensive line has some serious pass protection issues (8 sacks allowed), and aside from one 41-yard Cam Akers run, the running backs only managed 54 yards on 20 carries. Still, though, FSU is sitting at 2-1 in the conference and above .500 overall - there’s something to be said for that, I guess. The Seminoles, like damn near half the conference, are on a bye this week. They head to Clemson the following week.
10. Pittsburgh (last week: 17-14 W vs Delaware)
Previous Rankings: 12, 9, 7, 3
After playing two weeks of really good, solid football, Pitt apparently had enough of that and decided to almost lost to an FCS team. I mean, this game shouldn’t have been that close. Pitt out-gained Delaware 443-to-170, but - like walks and errors in baseball - penalties (13 for 115 yards) and turnovers (2) kill. The Panthers will be in Durham this week to take on one of the two remaining Coastal Division unbeatens.
11. Louisville (last week: BYE)
Previous Rankings: 11, 7, 10, 11
I know that trying to use the Transitive Property in sports is a fools errand, but Louisville gets the #11 spot this week since their last game was an 11-point loss at Florida State and...
12. NC State (last week: 13-31 L @ Florida State)
Previous Rankings: 2, 4, 8, 8
Talk about your well-timed bye weeks. The Wolfpack need a week to rest, get healthy, and get back to the basics (throw the ball, catch the ball, tackle the guy with the ball). Finding a QB would also be a welcomed development. After the off week, NC State will host Syracuse in a Thursday night game.
13. Virginia Tech (last week: 10-45 L vs Duke)
Previous Rankings: 7, 11, 11, 12
VT has issues all over the field, but the most important item lacking for this team might just be heart. Justin Fuente’s going to be looking for a new job before the season ends. The Hokies are at Miami this week.
14. Georgia Tech (last week: 2-24 L @ Temple)
Previous Ranking: 14, 13, 14, 14
In the spot they shall occupy until they actually capture a win and look like a real, live college football team. GT’s offense is super bad, being held out of the end zone and to just 5.0 yards/pass and 3.7 yards/rush by Temple. The GT D wasn’t bad, but it’s got to be depressing when you give up a TD and know that you’ve lost the game. The Yellow Jackets host North Carolina this week, and - hey, GT, now would be a great time to put it all together for a win!