1. Clemson (Last week: 24-10 W vs Texas A&M)
Previous Ranking: 1
In case you were concerned, Clemson is still good at football. They faced a stiff test from a very good Texas A&M squad and confidently and smoothly won. The offense put up a 17-point 2nd quarter, and the defense did the rest from there. Travis Etienne (16 car, 53 yds; 4 rec, 52 yds) looked human, but there are a lot of weapons on this Tigers team, including a QB who’s somewhat good, I guess. Clemson heads to Syracuse next week.
2. Virginia (Last week: 52-17 W vs William & Mary)
Previous Ranking: 3
The Cavaliers scored in all three phases of the game in a complete dismantling of FCS folk-singing duo Bill & Mary, putting the game away by the end of the 1st quarter. Bryce Perkins was electric (16-of-26, 192 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT; 7 car, 68 yds, 1 TD), although one of his two INTs went back the other way for a score. Mike Hollins (11 car, 78 yds, 2 TD) also had a heck of a good game. It’s hard to get a feel for any team when they play an FCS team, but Virginia is looking good thus far. The Wahoos get Florida State in Charlottesville this weekend.
3. Wake Forest (Last week: 41-21 W @ Rice)
Previous Ranking: 5
It was a 14-14 game at the end of the 1st quarter, but Wake dominated from there, outscoring the Owls 27-7 the rest of the way. The defense (which ranks 88th in SP+) might be the weak link for this Deacons team. The offense, though, is legit. Scotty Washington hauled in 7 passes for 158 yards and 2 TD. After a 21-of-27, 312 yard, 3 TD, 0 INT performance, Wake QB Jamie Newman has now completed 55-of-74 passes (74.3%) for 713 yards, 6 TD, and 0 INT on the year, and he’s also rushed for 65 yards and another TD. Wake gets a non-conference game (that still seems weird) this Friday against UNC-CH. This will be Wake’s third consecutive Friday game to start the season (even weirder).
4. NC State (Last week: 41-0 W vs Western Carolina)
Previous Ranking: 2
It’s difficult to nit-pick a 41-0 win, but State’s offense took a while to get going in the first half, missed on some could-have-been big plays for the second straight week, and left some Wolfpack fans with a disappointing feeling. The running game went for over 300 yards on the ground and 4 TDs, and QB Matt McKay played another clean game. The defense is the real story, though, holding the Catamounts to 106 total yards for the game. Next up for State is a trip to West Virginia to take on a Mountaineers team that suddenly looks to be in a bit of a rebuild.
5. Boston College (Last week: 45-13 W vs Richmond)
Previous Ranking: 4
The BC offense rolled without much effort and the defense held the Spiders to just 13 points, but they did allow 364 yards of offense to the FCS squad - that’s a bit of a cause for concern. They did notch 13 TFL and picked off a pair of passes, so it’s not all negative there. The Eagles running game went for 346 yards and 3 TDs on a 6.9 yards/carry average, while BC QB Anthony Brown threw 3 TDs on just 14 pass attempts. The next two weeks for BC feature games against the two worst P5 programs in Kansas and Rutgers, so it’ll be an easy 4-0 start to the year for the Eagles.
6. North Carolina (Last week: 28-25 W vs Miami)
Previous Ranking: 8
The Tar Heels jumped out to a quick 17-3 lead over Miami, scoring on their first three possessions of the game. The offense went almost entirely dormant from there until mounting a game-winning drive down 5 with under 5 minutes to play in the game. The Tar Heels were out-gained by 99 yards, didn’t force a turnover, and were aided heavily by a pair of missed Miami field goal attempts (including a 26-yard attempt) and only being called for one penalty (5 yards) in the game. North Carolina has a couple nice names in their win column, but has been very lucky to eek out those W’s. 2-0 is 2-0, though. The Heels travel to Winston-Salem Friday night for a non-conference game with the Demon Deacons.
7. Louisville (Last week: 42-0 W vs Eastern Kentucky)
Previous Ranking: 11
The Cardinals absolutely dominated from start to finish in this one. Jawon Pass (12/19, 196 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT; 4 rush, 37 yds) and Javian Hawkins (11 rush, 123 yds) led the way on offense while the defense held EKU to just 172 total yards and tallied 5 sacks and 10 TFL. Performances like this provide optimism to Cardinals fans that the rebuild under Scott Satterfield may be much quicker than anticipated. Next up: a home game vs Western Kentucky.
8. Duke (Last week: 45-13 W vs NC A&T)
Previous Ranking: 13
Life’s easier when you’re not playing a team like Alabama. Against A&T, which is no slouch FCS program, the Blue Devils looked much better. Quentin Harris was 30-of-42 for 345 yards and 4 TDs (to 0 INT), with 13 carries for 83 yards and another TD. Jalon Calhoun had 8 receptions for 105 yards and 2 TDs. The defense held the Aggies to 249 yards and 10 first downs. The Blue Devils head to Murfreesboro, TN, this week to take on Middle Tennessee State.
9. Pittsburgh (Last week: 20-10 W vs Ohio)
Previous Ranking: 12
Ohio’s not a bad team by any stretch, but they’re also not that good either. The Pitt offense was efficient, with Kenny Pickett (26/37, 321 yds, 1 TD) and Maurice Fffffrench (10 rec, 138 yds, 1 TD) having very good performances. The real story is the defense holding what is typically a really good Ohio offense to just 10 points. Jaylen Twyman registered 3 sacks on his own on the day, while the defense as a whole racked up 6 sacks, 10 TFL, and 6 pass deflections on the day. Next up for Pitt is a trip to Penn State on Saturday.
10. Miami (Last week: 25-28 L @ UNC-CH)
Previous Ranking: 9
Miami just can’t get out of their own way. Despite not turning the ball over in the game, the offense couldn’t capitalize on opportunities in the game, settling for a bunch of field goal attempts when the team was unable to punch the ball into the end zone. The offense did put up 488 yards of offense, so things are moving in the right direction over there... now they just need to learn how to get points. After getting punched in the mouth early, the defense rebounded to play a good game... well, you know, until allowing a game-winning touchdown pass. The Hurricanes take on Bethune-Cookman next.
11. Virginia Tech (Last week: 31-17 W vs Old Dominion)
Previous Ranking: 7
The Hokies got some revenge for last year’s embarrassing loss to the Monarchs, but the performance wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring. The good news is that after a week in which five turnovers lost them the game against Boston College, VT put forth a two turnover effort. Then again, the Hokies still coughed the ball up twice and took all four quarters to put away an Old Dominion team that’s supposed to be one of the worst at the FBS level. Next up is another home game versus FCS Furman.
12. Florida State (Last week: 45-44 W vs Louisiana-Monroe)
Previous Ranking: 10
Cam Akers is the only reason why Florida State is not 0-2 right now. The senior RB ran 36 times for 193 yards and 3 TDs, while also hauling in 5 passes for 55 yards and another TD. It took a missed extra point by the Warhawks for the Seminoles to escape with the W, but despite some offensive staffing changes and personnel moves on the roster, there are still plenty of issues with this team in Year 2 of the Willie Taggart era. Next up, the Noles travel to Coastal Division favorite Virginia to open ACC play.
13. Georgia Tech (Last week: 14-10 W vs South Florida)
Previous Ranking: 14
The offense might be a mess - and probably will be for some time - but this Tech defense is going to keep them in some games. It really is a shame that it’s going to be wasted in a true transition year, but it’s a solid group. Charlie Thomas had 9 tackles and 2 sacks for the Yellow Jackets, while on offense, Jordan Mason ran 20 times for 99 yards and a TD. Next up is FCS Citadel.
14. Syracuse (Last week: 20-63 L @ Maryland)
Previous Ranking: 6
Uhhhhhhh... what?! I thought Syracuse was supposed to be pretty good on defense. Ouch! The ‘Cuse offense was far from perfect in turning the ball over twice, allowing four sacks, and only putting up 20 points on the board, but they at least looked good at times with Trishton Jackson catching 7 passes for 157 yards and 2 TDs. That total performance, though, quickly makes all those “this will be back-to-back 10-win season” predictions look foolish. Next up things should get - oh no... oh, no no no... Clemson’s coming to town.