[Horizontal red lines indicate tiers]
1. Clemson (last week: 45-10 W @ Louisville)
Previous Rankings: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1
In case you forgot, Travis Etienne is very fast and very good at the whole “hold this ball, run, and don’t let people tackle you” thing. Etienne had 192 yards and a TD on 14 carries, while hauling in 4 passes for another 35 yards. The Clemson defense, meanwhile, remains very good at the “tackle the guy with the football” thing. The Tigers tallied 6 sacks, 3 turnovers, and held what had been a very productive Louisville offense to a hair over 4 yards per play in the game. Next up for Clemson: Boston College.
2. Wake Forest (last week: 22-20 W vs Florida State)
Previous Rankings: 5, 3, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3
Had Wake been able to punch the ball into the end zone early in the game instead of settling for three field goals of 25 yards or less - and subsequently, just a 9-0 lead at the time - this game could have been put away much earlier. As was, the Deacs had to put together a little comeback by kicking a go-ahead field goal (of course they did) with 4:18 to play and then letting Florida State self-destruct down the stretch. Sage Surratt is basically the entire Wake offense right now, hauling in 7 passes for 170 yards. Nick Sciba was 5-for-5 on FGs.
3. Pittsburgh (last week: 27-20 W @ Syracuse)
Previous Rankings: 12, 9, 7, 3, 10, 7, 8
Pitt jumped out to an 18-point halftime lead and then held on for the road win. The Panthers might be 5-2, but they cannot win pretty. Still, there’s something to be said for putting notches in the Win column. A.J. Davis had 103 yards and a TD on 16 carries, while Kenny Pickett completed 18-of-33 passes for 232 yards and 2 TDs, with 92 of those yards and one of those TDs going to Mr. Ffrench.
4. Virginia (last week: 48-14 W vs Duke)
Previous Rankings: 3, 2, 2, 5, 5, 3, 13
Who really knows what’s up with Virginia. I know what you’re thinking. “A 48-14 beat-down of Duke? Looks like Bryce Perkins and that offense finally hit its stride.” Wrong. The offense as a whole barely topped 300 total yards while coughing it up twice, and Perkins completed just 13-of-26 passes for 141 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT. The Wahoos feasted on five (5!!!) Duke turnovers to set up the offense with short fields, and the special teams unit chipped in a kickoff return TD to the point total, too. The Cavaliers hit the road to take on Louisville this weekend.
5. Florida State (last week: 20-22 L @ Wake Forest)
Previous Rankings: 10, 12, 9, 7, 9, 5, 4
Cam Akers really deserves better. The junior running back touched the ball 34 times in the game, turning those touches into 199 yards and 2 total TDs. The rest of the team really didn’t do much, and that’s a shame. The Seminoles defense did force the Wake offense to settle for a bunch of field goals, so that’s cool and all, I guess. FSU has a chance to get things going again this week as they take on a struggling Syracuse squad at home.
6. Louisville (last week: 10-45 L vs Clemson)
Previous Rankings: 11, 7, 10, 11, 11, 6, 2
I feel like I should just copy the same thing for every team Clemson plays, but here we go again... No shame in losing to Clemson, and it’s hard to glean anything useful from getting over-matched by the Tigers. Freshman Javian Hawkins ran for 129 yards and a TD on 26 carries, and the defense picked off two Trevor Lawrence passes, so there are definitely positives. The Cardinals take on Virginia next.
7. Boston College (last week: 45-24 W vs NC State)
Previous Rankings: 4, 5, 13, 10, 8, 11, 7
The Eagles are a tough team to beat when they get out in front and are allowed to play into their preferred style of one-dimensional, run-all-the-time football. BC ran the ball 60 times for 429 yards and 5 TDs on what had been one of the ACC’s best run defenses. A.J. Dillon, a very good running back you’ve probably never heard of, accounted for 223 of those yards and 3 of those TDs, while his understudy David Bailey accounted for 181 yards and 2 TDs. The Eagles more than likely won’t be able to play that same brand of ball - and certainly not to that same level of success - next week when they take on Clemson.
8. Virginia Tech (last week: 43-41 W vs North Carolina)
Previous Rankings: 7, 11, 11, 12, 13, 12, 10
I’ll gladly admit that I was ready to not only write off the 2019 Virginia Tech season just a few weeks ago, but also the entire Justin Fuente era in Blacksburg. With VT now sitting at 5-2 overall and 2-2 in ACC play, the 2019 season can’t be written off anymore, even if there are still questions around the long-term feasibility of Fuente as the Hokies head man. Heading into a bye week with games still left against the two Coastal Division teams ahead of them in the standings (Virginia, Pittsburgh), the Hokies hold their destiny in their hands (yes, they’ll also need Duke to drop another game). VT is now 3-0 with Herndon Hooker as the starting QB.
9. Duke (last week: 14-48 L @ Virginia)
Previous Rankings: 13, 8, 5, 4, 2, 8, 11
The Blue Devils have been the ACC’s most Jekyll-and-Hyde team so far. They have four dominant wins and three absolutely awful losses (don’t let the 30-33 loss to Pitt fool you, Duke played like hot garbage in that one). When you attempt six 4th down conversions in a game, you’re either super aggressive or playing from way behind. Duke was just 2-of-14 on 3rd downs in the game and had just 250 total yards, so it’s not hard to figure out the reason for going for it on 4th down that many times. This week would be a great time to bounce back to their dominant ways as Duke plays...
10. North Carolina (last week: 41-43 L @ Virginia Tech)
Previous Rankings: 8, 6, 4, 9, 4, 4, 9
Yes, UNC has a good young QB on their roster, but let’s just continue laughing that Mack is Back (TM) and crew still don’t understand that their best feature on offense is the rushing attack. The Tar Heels coaching staff put the ball in the hands of Sam Howell for 59 plays while handing the ball off to their trio of running backs just 28 times (where they averaged 5.36 yards/carry). They went on to lose in the first six overtime game of the 2019 season. The ugly blues host the other ugly blues this week.
11. NC State (last week: 24-48 L @ Boston College)
Previous Rankings: 2, 4, 8, 8, 12, 10, 5
The good news? It looks like the Wolfpack finally have found a young QB on their roster to build around. The bad news? Literally everything else that happened in this game. Injuries and poor play at key positions are costing NC State big time right now. Thankfully, there’s a bye week to be had before the team gets to see what Devin Leary can do in his first collegiate start.
12. Syracuse (last week: 20-27 L vs Pittsburgh)
Previous Ranking: 6, 14, 12, 6, 7, 9, 6
Down 24-6 early in the 2nd half and with starting QB Tommy DeVito getting knocked out, the Orange about made a comeback, but this game really wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Syracuse has some serious issues, and if DeVito is out for any extended time, those issues get another one added to them. A road trip to Florida State is up next, and while there are no sure-thing losses left on the schedule, there are even fewer sure-thing (or even probable) wins there, too. That 10-win 2018 season feels forever ago now.
13. Georgia Tech (last week: 28-21 W @ Miami)
Previous Ranking: 14, 13, 14, 14, 14, 14, 14
And look at that! Georgia Tech is finally on the board with their first ACC win of 2019, and all nervous NC State fans are thanking...
14. Miami (last week: 21-28 L vs Georgia Tech)
Previous Rankings: 9, 10, 6, 13, 6, 13, 12
Is Miami really the worst team in the conference? No, probably not, but they keep on losing and - well - you rack up enough of those losses and the shoe starts to fit. Miami probably could/should be 6-1 right now - heck, all four losses on the year are by 7 points or fewer - however, things are going a bit rough in the one-score game department (2-4) for first-year coach Manny Diaz.