ACC Football Power Rankings: Week 4
A couple of middle of the pecking order teams – N.C. State and Georgia Tech – took huge steps forward at the expense of Clemson and North Carolina.
For the ACC, the middle got stronger, while the top suffered fatal blows to making it to the College Football Playoff.
UNC and Clemson, preseason top-10 teams, with losses to the Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack, respectively, relegates ACC Football to content filler the remainder of the year, and we are still in September.
Clemson’s loss to N.C. State has left the conference without a playoff contender for the first time in the College Football Playoff era. No two-loss team has ever found its way to the playoff.
And what about undefeated Wake Forest and Boston College, you may ask? A long shot, a very long shot at best. One team could run the table (both can’t) and still easily find themselves in the Orange Bowl and not in the playoffs.
So, if parity is what the conference wanted, that’s what it’s getting. Unfortunately, it’s more Clemson and Carolina falling on their faces than the rest of the gang getting better.
- Wake Forest (2-0,4-0): Up from No. 2 last week, in which I wrote that the Demon Deacons were well-coached and didn’t beat themselves. They performed to that level Friday evening in Charlottesville, dismantling the Cavaliers, 37-17. Wake held the upper hand against Virginia from the kickoff.
- NC State (1-0,3-1): Gutsy win for the Wolfpack over Clemson Saturday evening in a raucous Carter Finley Stadium (amazing the strength of a home field advantage). N.C. State became the first conference foe not named Notre Dame (2020 only) to defeat the Tigers since 2017. That’s a big deal.
- Clemson (1-1, 2-2): Easy to dissect the Tigers. Clemson has probably the best defense in the league. Offensively, the Tigers are kittens. The post-Trevor Lawrence era in Death Valley is limping out the gate.
- Boston College (0-0, 4-0): BC is taking care of business so far, but Colgate, UMass, Temple and Missouri aren’t striking fear in anyone. That ends soon as the Eagles face Clemson, N.C. State and Louisville in three straight games.
- Louisville (1-0, 3-1): Louisville took out FSU early Saturday. The Cardinals may own the conference’s best non-conference victory, defeating Central Florida last week.
- Syracuse (0-0, 3-1): The Orange defeated Liberty Saturday night in the Carrier Dome, a win that need not be understated. Syracuse faces FSU next in a game that the loser will likely permanently occupy the bottom in the Atlantic power rankings.
- FSU (0-2, 0-4): The Seminoles will have to find a win to attain even one conference win. Saturday’s loss against Louisville showed some hope for FSU, but plenty of despair as well. Head coach Mike Norvell is on a very short leash.
- Virginia Tech (1-0,3-1): Well, someone has to be No. 1 in the Coastal. Tech’s loss at WVU looked a lot better after the Mountaineers pushed Oklahoma to the end Saturday in Norman. The Hokies opening-game win over UNC is losing its luster by the week. This week, Notre Dame travels to Blacksburg for a contest that is huge for Tech as well as the ACC.
- Georgia Tech (1-1, 2-2): The Yellow Jackets manhandled the then-No. 21 Tar Heels, 45-22, Saturday. GT sacked UNC signal-caller Sam Howell eight times and forced three fumbles.
- North Carolina (1-2, 2-2): The Mack Brown honeymoon may be ending. The ACC Coastal darling already has two conference losses. Against GT, the Carolina offensive line simply couldn’t block air, allowing QB Howell plenty of opportunity to view the Mercedes Benz Stadium roof.
- Virginia (0-2, 2-2): Virginia gets the No. 4 nod because, uh, I like Virginia. The Cavalier defense has imploded the last two weeks, surrendering 96 points more than 1,000 yards of turf. Unless the coaching staff can fix the problem, quarterback Brennan Armstrong may need a bionic left arm.
- Pittsburgh (0-0, 3-1): They say records can be deceiving, and in Pitt’s case, they are spot on. The Panthers took care of business against another lesser opponent Saturday. Pitt’s victory over Tennessee in Knoxville is still impressive, but the loss to Western Michigan certainly gives pause.
- Miami (0-0, 2-2): Bears repeating, the blowout loss to Alabama was expected, the clunkers against Michigan State and Appalachian State (a win) are telling. The Hurricanes’ 69-0 win over Central Connecticut was almost embarrassing. Bishop Sycamore must not have been available.
- Duke (0-0,3-1): Duke is 3-1 overall. No typo here. The Blue Devils own wins over two Power 5 conference teams Northwestern and Kansas. Yet the non-conference schedule has been, let’s just say not very challenging.
Story by Scott German