[Horizontal red lines indicate tiers]
1. Clemson (last week: 52-10 W vs Charlotte)
Previous Rankings: 1, 1, 1
Clemson football: still really good. As expected, this game was a cakewalk for the Tigers. Trevor Lawrence was only in the game long enough to attempt 9 passes (he completed 7 of them for 94 yards and 2 TDs, though). I mean, did Clemson even try in this game? Did it matter? Clemson heads to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina this week.
2. Wake Forest (last week: 49-7 W vs Elon)
Previous Rankings: 5, 3, 3
The Deacs are legit. They’re 4-0 now with an offense that Dave Clawson has clicking at a high level. Jamie Newman may well end up being the 1st Team All-ACC QB this year over Trevor Lawrence, and the running game averaged 5.1 yards/carry in this one, so they can hold their own, too. Wake goes to Boston College this weekend before starting a three-game homestand over four weeks (they have a bye the last week in October).
3. Pittsburgh (last week: 35-34 W vs UCF)
Previous Rankings: 12, 9, 7
After the close loss at Penn State the week prior, you kinda had to figure that Pitt would either use that as motivation and take down a very good UCF team or they would just fall apart and get trampled. The result was the former, and Pitt may not be falling off as much as people (myself included) expected. Kenny Pickett is a good QB, but Pitt isn’t a team that should have a 51:37 pass-to-rush ratio. The Panthers host Delaware of the FCS this week and should be 3-2 heading into a road contest at Duke in early October.
4. Duke (last week: BYE)
Previous Rankings: 13, 8, 5
The Blue Devils had a bye last week and move up a spot because, well, these rankings are all made up anyways and they looked good their last two games. Duke goes to Blacksburg this weekend.
5. Virginia (last week: 28-17 W vs Old Dominion)
Previous Rankings: 3, 2, 2
The Wahoos had to make a 2nd half comeback to take down a very bad ODU squad in a home game. To UVa’s credit, the Old Dominion defense isn’t nearly as bad as the offense, but the Cavaliers should be able to move the ball better than they did. There’s cause for concern, sure, but in a weak ACC - and an even weaker Coastal Division - Virginia is in very good shape moving forward. Don’t lose <— that’s the name of the game in the Coastal. Charles Snowden had 15 tackles, 3.5 TFL, and 2.0 sacks for Virginia. Next up: at Notre Dame.
6. Syracuse (last week: 52-33 W vs Western Michigan)
Previous Ranking: 6, 14, 12
Now that’s the Syracuse that we all expected to see this year. Yes, Western Michigan scored 33, but that’s a really good offensive football team in WMU, so no shame there. The Syracuse offensive performance is one that may springboard the team going forward. Tommy DeVito was impressive going 27-of-35 for 287 yards and 4 TDs and - most importantly - 0 turnovers. Trishton Jackson hauled in six of those passes for 141 yards and 2 TDs, while Moe Neal ran for 123 yards and 2 TDs on 26 carries. DeVito also ran nine times for 85 yards and a TD. The Orange get a layup against FCS Holy Cross before heading to NC State for a primetime Thursday night game.
7. Florida State (last week: 35-24 W vs Louisville)
Previous Rankings: 10, 12, 9
The Seminoles jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead, then watched Louisville take control of the middle of the game to fall behind 21-24, and finally used a couple late TDs to bring home the win. Florida State’s defense did what you’d expect it to against this Louisville team: play to stop the run and make Malik Cunningham and the passing attack beat you through the air. Well, Cunningham and the Cards almost did, but FSU did bottle up the Louisville ground attack (2.6 yards/carry on 47 carries; 11 TFL) while also sacking Cunningham six times. Wisconsin grad transfer Alex Hornibrook came in for an injured James Blackman and looked really sharp (15-of-20, 255 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT). The Seminoles offense against rode Cam Akers hard (29 carries, 112 yards, 3 TDs), and you have to start wondering the toll that 98 carries in a four-game stretch will take on the junior. Next up for FSU is a home game with...
8. NC State (last week: 34-23 W vs Ball State)
Previous Rankings: 2, 4, 8
Maaaaaan, are there some serious questions surrounding this Wolfpack team right now. The offense has some very real second half woes, and the play calling and QB situation are not helping things. The air attack only managed just 185 yards against a porous Ball State defense, although at least they went with a more run-heavy attack this time (41 carries vs 34 pass attempts). Next up is the ACC opener on the road at a talented Florida State club.
9. North Carolina (last week: 31-34 L vs Appalachian State)
Previous Rankings: 8, 6, 4
ELI DRINKWIIIIIIIIIIIITZ!!!!!!!!! App State took down their first P5 opponent since shocking Michigan back in 2007, blocking a last-second Tar Heels FG attempt to secure the win. After starting out with a couple lucked-into wins to begin the year, the Tar Heels have dropped a couple close games the last two weeks to fall to .500 on the year. Give them credit for playing close in all their games - we all know they weren’t doing that under Fedora - but the UNC coaching staff still doesn’t know how to run the offense. Good for all of us, Mack and crew decided to put the ball in freshman Sam Howell’s hands 52 times (he turned the ball over three times) in the game while RB Javonte Williams ran for 94 yards on just 16 carries. UNC gets Clemson at home this weekend.
10. Boston College (last week: 30-16 W @ Rutgers)
Previous Rankings: 4, 5, 13
Hey, it may be Rutgers, but it’s a road P5 win and that’s more than a lot of ACC schools can say right now. Plus, Boston College knows its team identity (61 rush attempts, 26 pass attempts), even if they might be better served by being a bit more balanced from time-to-time. A.J. Dillon ran 32 times for 150 yards and 2 TDs in the game (remember what I said about Cam Akers above? Same is true for Dillon and his 99 carries in four games). The big issue for the Eagles is that on 34 drop backs for passes by Rutgers on the day, BC managed 0 sacks and 0 QB hurries. That ain’t gonna cut it, especially not with a match-up against Wake coming next.
11. Louisville (last week 24:35 L @ Florida State)
Previous Rankings: 11, 7, 10
Scott Satterfield continues to be a dang good coach. The rebuild in Louisville might not be as daunting as expected. With their backup QB in, the Cardinals offense racked up 410 yards on Florida State and had the lead as late as midway through the 4th quarter. Dez Fitzpatrick had 7 receptions for 133 yards and a TD in the game. The Cards get an off week before hosting Boston College to kick off October.
12. Virginia Tech (last week: BYE)
Previous Rankings: 7, 11, 11
Justin Fuente spent the off week meeting with realtors and general contractors to look at getting his house ready to hit the market in Blacksburg, while his team will get ready to host Duke this weekend.
13. Miami (last week: 17-12 W vs Central Michigan)
Previous Rankings: 9, 10, 6
Yeesh. That was a, uhh, football game. In a game that never really felt like Miami was in risk of losing, they also struggled to put away a bad Central Michigan team at home. The running game was surprisingly awful, averaging just 1.5 yards/carry on 34 carries. Jarren Williams at least looked good (17-of-24, 250 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT), but the Hurricanes couldn’t hardly get the ball in the end zone. The defense played well (as it should have against this Chippewas team), tallying 9 TFL, 4 sacks, and 7 PDs. The Hurricanes get a bye week before they get a bye weekcontinue their five-game homestand with the Commonwealth coming to visit over the next two games: Virginia Tech and then Virginia.
14. Georgia Tech (last week: BYE)
Previous Ranking: 14, 13, 14
GT gets a much needed week off after losing to The Citadel, and now heads north to take on Temple in Philadelphia. Temple, as you may remember, beat Maryland two weeks ago... and then got pantsed by Buffalo last week, so...???