[Horizontal red lines indicate tiers]
1. Clemson (last week: 59-14 W vs Wofford); season record: 9-0 (6-0)
Previous Rankings: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1
The Fightin’ Dabos stepped outside of conference (and FBS) play to take on in-state foe Wofford. Clemson ended the Terriers five-game win streak by opening up a 42-0 halftime lead and cruising to an easy victory. Travis Etienne ran for 212 yards and 2 TDs on just 9 carries. For all of the talk about Trevor Lawrence struggling early this year, he’s gone 28-of-35 for 493 yards, 6 TDs, and 0 INTs over his last two games, while also rushing for 75 yards and another TD. The Tigers take on NC State in Raleigh this week.
2. Wake Forest (last week: 44-10 W vs NC State); season record: 7-1 (3-1)
Previous Rankings: 5, 3, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 2
Wake Forest won a football game and we really don’t need to talk about it. The Deacs maintain their hold as the second-best team in the ACC this year. They head to Virginia Tech this week.
3. Louisville (last week: Bye); season record: 5-3 (3-2)
Previous Rankings: 11, 7, 10, 11, 11, 6, 2, 6, 4
The Cardinals got an opportunity to rest up last week and will now take on Miami in Coral Gables this week.
4. Virginia Tech (last week: 20-21 L @ Notre Dame); season record: 5-3 (2-2)
Previous Rankings: 7, 11, 11, 12, 13, 12, 10, 8, 6
The Hokies played a pretty awful game offensively (240 total yards, 4-of-16 on 3rd downs), but the defense kept them in a position to win it until Notre Dame put together a long 18-play, 87-yard TD drive to snatch away the victory with less than a half a minute to play in the game. I’m still not sold on VT, but this team looks much different - and much better - over their last four games. Now they host Wake in another test.
5. Miami (last week: 27-10 W @ Florida State); season record: 5-4 (3-3)
Previous Rankings: 9, 10, 6, 13, 6, 13, 12, 14, 7
Back-to-back ACC wins - watch out now! You know, if you take away his atrocious 4-of-7, 3 INT game against VT, Jarren Williams actually sorta kinda looks like he knows what he’s doing at QB. Hokies nightmare aside, Williams is 111-of-165 for 1,402 yards, 10 TDs, and 0 INTs. Not bad! Freshman DE Gregory Rousseau registered 4.0 sacks and 5.0 TFL among his 8 total tackles in the game. He now has 12.0 sacks on the season, including 7.0 in the last two games. The Hurricanes host Louisville next.
6. Virginia (last week: 38-31 W @ North Carolina); season record: 6-3 (4-2)
Previous Rankings: 3, 2, 2, 5, 5, 3, 13, 4, 5
Now THAT was the Bryce Perkins we expected to see all year! The guy who was getting some preseason Heisman hype went 30-of-39 passing for 378 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs, while also rushing 24 times for 112 yards and 2 more TDs. Dude can be absolutely electric. The Wahoos just need to beat Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech to secure their place in the ACC Championship Game.
7. Boston College (last week: 58-27 W @ Syracuse); season record: 5-4 (3-3)
Previous Rankings: 4, 5, 13, 10, 8, 11, 7, 7, 11
Lose your starting QB, go on to win two out of three. Just like they drew it up! If you had told BC fans before the season started that they’d go 2-1 in the three game stretch of an NC State team coming off a 9-win season, defending national champion Clemson, and a Syracuse team coming off a 10-win season, I’m pretty sure every single BC fan (all eight of them) would have taken it. As is, those BC fans that want to get rid of Steve Addazio (four of the eight) might not get their wish as he inches closer to his yearly 7 wins.
8. Pittsburgh (last week: 20-10 W @ Georgia Tech); season record: 6-3 (3-2)
Previous Rankings: 12, 9, 7, 3, 10, 7, 8, 3, 8
Have a friend you really don’t like but need to get a Christmas gift for anyways? Get them a copy of Pitt’s win over GT. The Panthers are legit on defense, and legitimately bad on offense. Pitt’s going to win the Coastal again, aren’t they? Guh...
9. Florida State (last week: 10-27 L vs Miami); season record: 4-5 (3-4)
Previous Rankings: 10, 12, 9, 7, 9, 5, 4, 5, 3
And there’s the truth of it all. At a program like Florida State, there is no time given to “rebuild”. With the history, money, and talent that the Seminoles have, the wins better come quickly. They didn’t for Willie Taggart, and now he’s off to search for a new job. FSU will actually be an interesting team to watch over their last three regular season games, with their next one coming on the road against Boston College.
10. North Carolina (last week: 31-38 L vs Virginia); season record: 4-5 (3-3)
Previous Rankings: 8, 6, 4, 9, 4, 4, 9, 10, 9
Tied at half, the Tar Heels gave up a 65 yard TD run just 35 seconds into the 2nd half and were never able to catch back up to the Cavaliers from there on out, including getting shut out in the 4th quarter. The offense put up a ton of big plays without committing any turnovers, while the defense was... well, mostly optional. Once Virginia stopped giving up the big play, the North Carolina offense struggled to find the scoreboard. Virginia should have known, you just gotta stand perfectly still.
11. Duke (last weeK: Bye); season record: 4-4 (2-3)
Previous Rankings: 13, 8, 5, 4, 2, 8, 11, 9, 10
Guess who gets to take on Notre Dame this weeeeeeeeeeeek!
12. NC State (last week: 10-44 L @ Wake Forest); season record: 4-4 (1-3)
Previous Rankings: 2, 4, 8, 8, 12, 10, 5, 11, 12
Holding Wake Forest to 418 total yards is decently impressive... but gaining only 265 is horrendously awful, especially against this Wake defense. The bye week to break in Devin Leary as the new starting QB and get the team ready for a finishing kick didn’t really seem to go so well. Now the merciless killing machine known as Clemson strolls into town to surely make things better.
13. Georgia Tech (last week: 10-20 L vs Pittsburgh); season record: 2-6 (1-4)
Previous Ranking: 14, 13, 14, 14, 14, 14, 14, 13, 13
Despite only gaining 194 total yards (as a team!), the Stripey Ouchies still had themselves in a position to tie the game late in the 3rd, but fumbled away the ball on the Pitt 4-yardline and never could come close again. GT takes on Virginia next.
14. Syracuse (last week: 27-58 L vs Boston College) season record: 3-6 (0-5)
Previous Ranking: 6, 14, 12, 6, 7, 9, 6, 12, 14
The Orange were actually up 17-10 at the end of the 1st quarter, if only the game could have stopped then for them. The offense kinda took the next quarter and a half off while the defense got gashed by A.J. Dillon, David Bailey, and ... Dennis Grosel?!?! Geez, man...