In these conference rankings, I list the ACC teams, one through 14, as if Pitt and Syracuse were already in the league. Yes, adding the additional teams may seem pointless now, but wait until they officially join. Then it’ll seem like old news and we can get past that initial awkwardness. No, I won’t reconsider. On to this week’s rankings!
1. Clemson Tigers (8-0) (5-0) (LW: 1): Bouncing back from an effort versus Maryland that was equal parts impressive and concerning, Clemson never took their foot off the gas on Saturday, en route to a 21-point victory versus UNC that doesn’t even begin to tell the story. The Tar Heels looked horrendous on both sides of the ball and if not for some garbage time points, would’ve been laughed off the field.
2. Virginia Tech Hokies (7-1) (3-1) (LW: 2): Due to Georgia Tech‘s recent collapse, the Hokies now have the inside track to win the ACC’s Coastal Division. While there are no guarantees there, it’s a nice position to be in halfway through league play. Perils await though, specifically since Virginia Tech has a well-chronicled inability to get up for big games. If teams keep losing though, may not be anymore of those left on the schedule.
3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (4-3) (2-2) (LW: 5):Miami has been able to leapfrog from bottom-third to top-quarter of these rankings over the past few weeks due to a penchant for forcing turnovers and exposing the respective weaknesses of their league opponents. There’s not a game left this team can’t conceivably win. And while a division title’s probably out of the question (VPI would need to lose twice), there’s nothing wrong with going 9-3.
4. Florida State Seminoles (4-3) (2-2)) (LW: 6): They’re not out of the woods yet, nor are they out from under expectations that originally placed them among the nation’s top five teams. Still, given the disaster this Seminoles season has had the potential to turn into, you have to like the team’s 4-3 record with at least three wins left on the slate. As is usually the case, everything will come down to whether they can beat in-state rivals Miami and Florida.
5. Syracuse Orange (5-2) (1-0) (LW: 8): Recording its first win over a top-15 program since 2002, Syracuse did tons to help its resume in a 49-23 romp over West Virginia. Executing flawlessly on offense and putting the type of pressure on quarterback Geno Smith that only LSU has really been able to deliver, the Orange are suddenly a contender in the Big East.
6. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-2) (4-1) (LW: 7): No, last week’s win versus Duke was not of the impressive variety, failing to ever truly put away the Blue Devils in a one-point victory. Still, Wake Forest sits at 5-2 through seven games — within one win of bowl eligibility and just a game out of first in the Atlantic Division. So what happens next? The Demon Deacons have struggled for offensive consistency these past few weeks, so it’s a great place to go back to the drawing board.
7. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-2) (3-2) (LW: 3): Georgia Tech’s offense is a shadow of its former self, failing to score more than 21 points in three straight games now. That’s what happens when you’re extremely one-dimensional however. Once you’re figured out, you don’t stand a chance. Ask Navy how that run-exclusive attack is going right now (2-5 record right now). Maybe the Yellow Jackets rethink commemorative tees for blowout victories versus Kansas next time, too.
8. North Carolina Tar Heels (5-3) (1-3) (LW: 4): As always, the Tar Heels struggle against ACC competition, and now sit at a paltry 1-3 against conference foes. After several bystanders (guilty) bought in to the team, we’re now all left wondering what we believed in the first place. Besides an opening weekend FCS romp, the Heels have been less-than-impressive in victory, while increasingly futile in defeat. Future opponents Wake Forest and Virginia Tech aren’t likely to help right the sinking ship either.
9. NC State Wolfpack (4-3) (1-2) (LW: 13): I’ll eat my words leaving the Woflpack up for dead. No, the Virginia Cavaliers aren’t worldbeaters, but at the same time, defeating a fellow conference middling and notching your first notable win all season surely counts for something. Still in need of three wins for bowl eligibility (two of their current Ws are against FCS competition), it’s hard to see them in the postseason, but never say never.
10. Virginia Cavaliers (4-3) (1-2) (LW: 9): The story of this season is still untold for the Cavaliers. After supposedly pulling off a signature victory against Georgia Tech, the team lost to NC State and now has to watch the Yellow Jackets’ freefall continue as well. So which team are they? The apparent defensive powerhouse that shutdown Tech or the offensive joke that couldn’t even hit the 20s on the Wolfpack? To me, the Cavs have 6-6 written all over them.
11. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-4) (0-0) (LW: 11): The problems are going to continue for Pittsburgh, as their key win (versus USF) now means very little and they’re running out of winnable games. In all honesty though, can they win another game on this year’s schedule? Every Big East team has proven themselves formidable at one points or another, making the Panthers’ road to a postseason bowl very much in doubt.
12. Duke Blue Devils (3-4) (1-2) (LW: 12): Not a bad effort by Duke as they managed to keep Wake Forest off-balance all game Saturday and almost pulled off the upset. In the last two games alone, the Blue Devils have made FSU look phenomenal and Wake look pedestrian. Both can’t really be true, so which is the anomaly? We may have to wait for a November 12 matchup with Virginia for a final verdict.
12. Maryland Terrapins (2-5) (1-3) (LW: 10): So much for getting excited about the C.J. Brown era. After exciting fans into thinking he could lead Maryland to a new brand of high-octane football, the young quarterback pulled up a dud against the Seminoles on Saturday. While he gets a learning curve, we can’t necessarily afford one to his coach as well, though. Randy Edsall was supposed to improve upon the Terps’ 8-4 regular season, but now find themselves on the brink of irrelevance and a losing campaign. Prior to Maryland, Edsall coached Connecticut into relevant and a BCS game last year.
14. Boston College Eagles (1-6) (0-4) (LW: 14): Irrelevant and completely unwatchable for the first time in recent memory, the Eagles will be getting a new coach this offseason and a hopeful housecleaning to go with it. Fundamentally, the program’s current crop of players lacks the necessary skill set on offense to compete with the speed of Clemson, Virginia Tech, et al — a problem that can’t continue if BC hopes to remain a factor in the ACC.