1. Florida State (last week: 27-20 W vs Miami)
It wasn’t the most impressive win, but Florida State remained undefeated. FSU jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but gave up four runs of 18+ yards to allow Miami to take an 13-10 lead early in the 2nd half. The Noles quickly regained the lead and led 20-13 before the game became a punting battle. Keon Coleman pushed the lead to 14, which was important since FSU would give up an 85-yard TD pass midway through the 4th quarter. It was tight from there on, but the Seminoles got the W in their closest game since September and finish 8-0 in ACC play. Next up is an absurdly scheduled game against North Alabama before finishing up at Florida and then heading to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game.
2. Virginia Tech (last week: 48-22 W @ Boston College)
Despite picking off Boston College on two of the Eagles first three possessions, Virginia Tech fell behind 7-3 early... and then started pouring it on. The Hokies led 31-7 at the half and then scored touchdowns on each of their first two second half possessions. Again, for a team that looked dreadful over the first month of the season, this was a complete pantsing of a BC team that was on a five-game winning streak. Quite the impressive win. The Hokies will finish their season at rival Virginia, but first is their home finale against...
3. NC State (last week: 26-6 W @ Wake Forest)
The Wolfpack put it together to trounce the Demon Deacons in a game that was never even close. State led 21-0 at the half and the 2nd half was all but meaningless with the stout Pack defense smothering Wake - the Deacs ended the game with just 163 total yards of offense. If there was a blemish for State, it was a few ball security concerns and a pair of missed field goals, although the coaches clearly still have full confidence in Brayden Narveson. One more win would mark the fifth time in the last seven years that State has reached five or more ACC wins, a feat the program has not accomplished since the 1960’s.
4. Clemson (last week: 42-21 W vs Georgia Tech)
Clemson had an ill-advised fake punt deep in their own territory in the first quarter that led to a Georgia Tech touchdown, but the Tigers scored the next 42 points in the game - including 21 in the second quarter - to make this a very non-competitive affair. The two late window dressing GT TDs covered 142 of the 254 yards the Yellow Jackets had in the game. So, yes, Clemson’s defense was great again until the subs entered. The best news for the Tigers is that Cade Klubnik played his game in a long time and Will Shipley returned to action, posting another 100+ scrimmage yard game. Clemson hosts North Carolina on Saturday.
5. Louisville (last week: 31-24 W vs Virginia)
The Cardinals led 14-0 at the half thanks to a strong defensive performance and a blocked punt for a TD. It seemed that two score lead would carry Louisville to the win, but then Virginia reeled off three TDs in a little over three minutes of game time late in the third quarter. After trading field goals, the Cards tied the game on a 52 yard blown coverage TD pass and then took the lead with just over three minutes remaining on a 73 yard TD run. It was a crazy second half to a game that might have put you to sleep in the first half. A win at Miami on Saturday will secure Louisville’s spot in the ACC title game opposite Florida State.
6. Miami (last week: 27-20 L @ Florida State)
The Hurricanes kept close with FSU, but simply didn’t have the QB play that would give them an opportunity to steal the win against their hated rivals. For Miami, that’s now four losses in their last six games with Louisville and Boston College remaining. The bright spot for the Canes is that the defense held FSU to 322 yards and just 3-of-12 on 3rd downs, which is going to be enough to win most games. Donald Chaney Jr. is also showing exactly why he was a Top 5 RB coming out of high school.
7. Duke (last week: 45-47 L @ North Carolina)
2023 Duke feels a lot like 2022 NC State. A great defense carrying a team that’s had a lot of bad injury luck and is down to a true freshman starting. The Blue Devils got robbed in Chapel Hill. Taking a 3-point lead with 5:21 to go, UNC drove into the Duke red zone before a Drake Maye pass on 3rd & 14 was caught by Bryson Nesbit; however, the ball was pulled from Nesbit’s hands before he was down and secured by a Duke defensive back. The official, though, called it a catch and then refused to review the play. UNC scores a few plays later and then it’s a back-and-forth affair before UNC wins in double OT - on another missed call (ineligible man downfield) - instead of Duke icing the game away. As bruised and beaten as the Blue Devils are, they finish up with Virginia and Pitt, a pair of winnable games that should they win will put Duke at back-to-back 5-3 ACC seasons.
8. Virginia (last week: 24-31 L @ Louisville)
You have to give the Cavaliers credit for fighting back and taking that third quarter lead. If a few calls don’t go in Louisville's favor late, Virginia may well have come away with the W. The Wahoos are just 2-8 on the year, but five of those losses have been by one score including four losses by a field goal or less. That’s tough, but there’s clear progress in Year 2 under Tony Elliott, even if their final record won’t show it.
9. Syracuse (last week: 28-13 W vs Pittsburgh)
Cuse finally ended their five game skid, and with it pushed to within a game of bowl eligibility. A road trip to Georgia Tech is next with a home game against Wake Forest after that, so despite that horrendous losing streak, Dino Babers may well still lead the Orange to a bowl game. Syracuse outgained Pitt 399-to-269 and forced four turnovers, including three fumbles, in the game. All but 17 of those 399 yards came on the ground, and even if that was by design
10. Georgia Tech (last week: 21-42 L @ Clemson)
The Yellow Jackets aren’t the first team to get bludgeoned in Death Valley and they won’t be the last, but that was a horrific effort against a team that had played four straight one possession games. Four interceptions didn’t help the cause, but this was just a game where very little went right for GT. Sitting at 5-5 overall, bowl eligibility is probably riding on next week’s game against Syracuse, because after that is the showdown with Georgia and that might look a lot like last week.
11. Boston College (last week: 22-48 L vs Virginia Tech)
Oof. What a way to have a nice winning streak snapped. The Eagles managed only 262 yards of offense while surrendering an even 600 to VT on the way to being routed at home. The good news for BC is that there’s a winnable game at Pitt next followed by a a home tilt with a Miami team that has QB issues.
12. Wake Forest (last week: 6-26 L vs NC State)
The Deacs lackluster offense has them sitting at 1-6 in conference and needing to beat both Notre Dame and Syracuse on the road over the next two weeks to reach bowl eligibility. Wake’s offensive issues are going to make that difficult in South Bend next week, considering there is instability at the QB position and the running game couldn’t do a thing against the Wolfpack.
13. Pittsburgh (last week: 13-28 L @ Syracuse)
Losing to Syracuse is never a good look. Doing so when the Orange only attempt eight passes is even more embarrassing. Pitt’s AD gave the public “vote of confidence” for head coach Pat Narduzzi after the loss, which is rarely if ever a good thing for a coach’s long-term job stability. While Narduzzi will be back next year, expect a ton of roster and coaching turnover for the Panthers this offseason. Pitt hosts Boston College next before finishing up at Duke.
14. North Carolina (47-45 W vs Duke)
When you need the conference to step in and make one of the most egregious calls, and then not even review said call, to help you win the game, you deserve to be ranked last. If anyone ever wondered whether the ACC bias towards the Tar Heels extends beyond the obvious bounds of the hardwood, well, there you have it. Should that “catch” have correctly been reviewed and ruled a Duke interception, then the Blue Devils win. However, the ACC just couldn’t help trying to give UNC one more shot at the ACC title game. For shame.