1. Florida State (last week: 41-16 W @ Wake Forest)
Another week results in another win for the Seminoles. To this point of the season, FSU has looked far and away like the best team in the ACC. Their kicker did miss his first FG of the year, a 29-yard attempt at that, so at least that gives the FSU fans something to fret about, as meaningless as it is. Jordan Travis is going to start getting some serious Heisman pub. He’s on pace for almost 3,700 yards passing, 32 passing TDs, 4 INTs, over 350 yards rushing, and 11 rushing TDs. The Noles head to Pitt next and should take serious note of what happened to a then-undefeated Louisville when they played there earlier this year.
2. Louisville (last week: 23-0 W vs Duke)
The Cardinals own the most impressive ACC win of the week by shutting out a Duke team that had Riley Leonard playing, even if severely hobbled. Louisville held Duke to 202 yards of offense and a combined 2-of-14 on third- and fourth-down conversion attempts. Jawhar Jordan (21 car, 163 yds, 2 TD) and Jamari Thrash (7 rec, 73 yards) accounted for 2⁄3 of the Louisville offense on the day. NC State is the only team to hold Thrash to under 70 yards receiving (he had 44 against the Pack) and the only team to hold Jordan under 95 yards rushing (32 yards on 16 carries against State). Next up for Louisville is a home game against...
3. Virginia Tech (last week: 38-10 W vs Syracuse)
Louisville had the most impressive ACC win of the week, but VT had the second most-impressive, even if it was against a Syracuse team that is way off the rails. The Hokies held Cuse to just 137 yards of offense, including exactly 0 net rushing yards. That rushing number for the Orange was 38 yards after adjusting for sacks, but the Hokies still tallied an exceptional 8 in the game. That defensive effort was supplemented by a 528-yard offensive outburst, allowing for VT to dominate the game with a time of possession advantage of over 23 minutes. Absurd. Win on Saturday at Louisville, and the Hokies will have a clear path to the ACC title game and a rematch with Florida State. That, too, is an absurd statement if you watched VT over the first four weeks of the season.
4. NC State (last week: 24-17 W vs Clemson)
K.C. Concepcion came up with all the big plays the Wolfpack needed on offense, while Payton Wilson delivered the biggest defensive play of the day on his pick six. The Wolfpack defense was able to deliver the final stop of the game to let NC State hold on to the big win at home despite being outgained by 162 yards in the game. The Pack’s WRs are still having issues with drops, but the offense as a unit played a clean game (0 turnovers, 0 penalties) which is typically all that’s needed with State’s defense doing its thing. Coming to Raleigh on Saturday night is...
5. Miami (last week: 29-26 W vs Virginia)
For the fourth straight week, the Hurricanes struggled, but for the second straight week, they still found a way to win. Down 3 with 4:20 to play, Miami put together a good enough drive to set up Andres Borregales with a 48-yard field goal to tie it up and send the game to OT, where the Canes eventually prevailed. Borregales also hit a 47-yarder and a 50-yarder in the game, just in case you were looking for Miami’s game MVP. It’s a good thing Borregales brought his A-game as it bailed out an offense that managed just 276 yards and turned the ball over twice.
6. Clemson (last week: 17-24 L @ NC State)
The Tigers couldn’t get out of their own way in suffering their fourth loss of the season - all of the conference variety. There was some bad luck in this one, with Will Shipley getting knocked out of the game in the first half and NC State having a tipped pass fall perfectly into the hands of Payton Wilson for a touchdown. Cade Klubnik still had too many bad throws - including another interception aside from Wilson’s TD - and the kicking game remains a hindrance. Klubnik should not be throwing 50 passes in a game, though. No rest for the Tigers as they host Notre Dame on Saturday.
7. Georgia Tech (last week: 46-42 W vs North Carolina)
Perseverance and an offensive play-calling adjustment pulled the Yellow Jackets through this one, overcoming an 11-point deficit entering the 4th quarter to trounce the Tar Heels. After punting with 4:26 to play in the 3rd quarter, GT went heavy with the run (15 running plays to 2 passing plays) to score TDs on three straight drives and turn that 11-point deficit into a 4-point lead and an eventual victory over UNC. The Jackets totaled an impressive 635 yards of offense on the day. With the win, GT kept alive their alternative wins and losses on the year. Next up is a road trip to...
8. Virginia (last week: 26-29 L @ Miami)
Virginia has looked much improved over the last three weeks, and almost pulled off their third straight win. The Cavaliers outgained the Hurricanes by over 100 yards and committed 0 penalties in the game. Unfortunately, Virginia had to settle for four field goals, including two from inside of 23 yards, and their one turnover in the game was returned for a touchdown. The good news for the Wahoos is that Georgia Tech is coming off a win, and as previously mentioned, that guarantees a loss for the Yellow Jackets this week.
9. Duke (last week: 0-23 L @ Louisville)
With Riley Leonard back under center, this looked like it was going to be a great game. Instead, the Blue Devils got done to them what they did to NC State a few weeks ago. The Duke offense struggled all night to move the ball and sustain drives, and it showed by Louisville owning an almost 14 minute advantage in time of possession. The good news for Duke is that they host a struggling Wake team next week.
10. Boston College (last week: 21-14 W vs UConn)
Not exactly a confidence builder, but BC slowly pulled away from UConn and then salted the game away on a 13-play drive that covered the last 6:44 of the game. The Huskies never really threatened the Eagles after BC took the lead in the 2nd quarter. The Eagles can run their win streak to 5 - and reach bowl eligibility - this Friday at Syracuse.
11. North Carolina (last week: 42-46 L @ Georgia Tech)
For the second straight week, the Tar Heels took a double-digit 2nd half lead and turned it into a tally in the Loss column. In both of those instances, UNC’s opponent has exposed the Heels’ run defense during those 2nd half come-from-behind wins and secured the game on a late turnover. That UNC defense has allowed 1,071 yards over the last two weeks, including 576 yards on the ground. Next up in Chapel Hill is a late-season layup against FCS Campbell before finishing up against Duke, Clemson, and NC State.
12. Wake Forest (last week: 16-41 L vs Florida State)
The Deacs have some serious issues, and FSU is a team that is going to magnify those to an extreme. Wake was held to 210 yards of offense and converted just 3-of-14 third down attempts. Their three scoring drives covered 224 yards, so I’ll leave you to figure out what they did with their other 11 drives in the game. Meanwhile the defense gave up 508 yards and allowed FSU to convert third downs at a 50% rate. It’s a short turnaround as the Deacs head to Durham on Thursday to take on Duke.
13. Pittsburgh (last week: 7-58 L @ Notre Dame)
The Panthers got absolutely pummeled in South Bend. They kept it relatively close in the 1st half, trailing 17-0 at the half, before wilting in the 2nd half. The Irish defense scored more points (14) in the 3rd quarter than Pitt did in the entire game. Heck, the Irish special teams scored as many points as the Pitt offense did in the game. Thankfully for Pat Narduzzi, he gets to reprise his favorite role of “ruiner of all good things for others” this weekend against Florida State. Unfortunately for Narduzzi, that game is on the road where he has not had that same level of “awful team beating an undefeated team” magic.
14. Syracuse (last week: 10-38 L @ Virginia Tech)