Week 5 ACC Power Rankings
Week 5 ACC Power Rankings
We’re four weeks into the college football season and the ACC, like most conferences, is on the verge of jumping into conference play full time. We’ve seen a few intra-conference matchups in the ACC, but starting next weekm we’ll see almost nothing but conference games, which means it’s a good time to take a look at the ACC power rankings now that the non-conference schedule is all but behind us.
The non-conference part of the schedule has been all about gaining respect for members of the ACC, as they hope to prove that they too can be a power conference not just in basketball, but in football as well. Thus far, the ACC has had a few marquee wins, with the Clemson Tigers beating the Georgia Bulldogs and the Miami Hurricanes knocking off the Florida Gators. But outside of those two games, the conference hasn’t really been able to make many positive headlines.
But now the focus shifts to conference play, as all 14 teams start working towards their goal of winning a conference championship. There are obviously some favorites, but that doesn’t mean teams should be eliminated from contention before the conference season begins.
Our power rankings of the ACC reflect what has happened during the season so far, and not necessarily how we think things will play out. Frankly, the conference appears to be deeper than expected. Trying to figure out where teams belong in relation to other teams in the conference is quite a difficult task. Nevertheless, here are the ACC power rankings after four weeks, with full time conference play about to get under way.
14. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
The Demon Deacons have not looked good this season, including a home loss to Louisiana-Monroe, a team that’s been absolutely thrashed by a pair of ranked opponents. Even in their wins against Presbyterian and Army, they haven’t looked that impressive. Wake Forest needs more out of senior quarterback Tanner Price, especially with the Clemson Tigers looming this week.
13. Duke Blue Devils
Duke has given up 96 points over the past two games, both against conference opponents, which doesn’t speak well about their chances of competing in the ACC this season. The Blue Devils nearly completed the come back against Pittsburgh and put plenty of points on the board, but they are nowhere close to being the team they were last season, and they have a lot of work to do defensively if they’re going to win more than one or two conference games this season.
12. North Carolina State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack gave a good account of themselves Thursday night against Clemson, and that game could have ended differently if a call or two had gone their way, but it’s hard to get past the fact that they barely beat FCS Richmond and that their only other win of the season is against Louisiana Tech, a team that could be one of the worst in FBS in this season. It’s hard to imagine N.C. State being the 12th best team in the ACC when all is said and done, but right now, that’s where they belong.
11. Boston College Eagles
The Eagles get a little credit for being 1-0 in the conference at this stage in the season, but home wins over Villanova and Wake Forest are nothing to be too excited about. They appear to have enough to talent to at least be in the mix for a bowl bid by season’s end, but they haven’t been all that impressive just yet. We’ll learn a lot about them this week when they host Florida State.
10. Syracuse Orange
A lot of teams would be 2-2 if they played Syracuse’s schedule, as the Orange opened up with a neutral site game against Penn State and a road date with Northwestern. Syracuse seems to have sorted out its quarterback controversy and looked real impressive offensively in its two wins, albeit against weak teams. It’s still tough to get a good read on the Orange, but they look like a team that will be competitive all season, and we’ll find out a lot about them when they play their first ever ACC game against the Clemson Tigers in two weeks.
9. Pittsburgh Panthers
The Panthers have had no trouble scoring points in their last two games, with quarterback Tom Savage looking sharp after a shaky season opener against Florida State. Of course, other than the Monday night opener against the Seminoles, Pitt hasn’t really been challenged, and they also gave up 55 points to Duke, which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in their defense. The Panthers are about to hit the heart of their ACC schedule, which will tell us whether they’re for real or not.
8. Virginia Tech Hokies
We won’t hold their loss to Alabama against them, but the Hokies needed triple overtime to beat Marshall and only beat East Carolina by five points, which just won’t cut it for a team that wants to compete for a spot in the ACC Championship Game. Virginia Tech’s defense is good, but Logan Thomas continues to be painfully inconsistent and far too often he does more harm than good. Until that changes, the Hokies will stay in the bottom half of the ACC power rankings.
7. North Carolina Tar Heels
Don’t let the 1-2 record fool you; the Tar Heels are a solid football team. Beating South Carolina on the road to open the season would have been a lot to ask, while Georgia Tech is a bad matchup for them and a team that’s had their number, so it’s tough to punish the Tar Heels too much for their two losses. At least for now, North Carolina will get the benefit of the doubt and not fall too far in the conference power rankings, despite a losing record.
6. Virginia Cavaliers
You can throw away the Oregon game because the Ducks are going to end up beating most of the teams they play by an absurd margin. Outside of that, the Cavaliers have taken care of business against VMI and scratched out a close win against a real good BYU Cougars team. Virginia still has plenty to prove once conference play starts, but for now they deserve some recognition for a promising start to the season.
5. Maryland Terrapins
Things got a little ugly for the Terrapins last year, but they have had a phenomenal month of September this year, opening the season 4-0. Say what you will about the state of West Virginia’s football program, but a 37-0 thumping is nothing to balk at, especially in a rivalry game. Maryland has also taken care of business against three inferior opponents. Things will be different when Maryland begins ACC conference play for the final time with a road game against Florida State in a couple weeks, but there’s no way the Terrapins could have been any more impressive than they’ve been the first four weeks of the season.
4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Two conference wins early in the season has given the Yellow Jackets a big leg up in the Coastal Division. Early in the season, Georgia Tech is doing what they do best, which is running the ball, but they’ve also played solid defense in their first three games, and so far they look like a team that could once again make an appearance in the ACC Championship Game.
3. Miami Hurricanes
Of Miami’s three games, two have been complete jokes against lesser teams, but their win over the Florida Gators is enough to give them the No. 3 spot in the ACC, at least for now. We don’t yet know whether the Hurricanes are back to being “The U” once again, but they have a quality quarterback, a great running back, and a sturdy defense, and that’s enough to make us think the Canes could be back and ready to compete atop the ACC.
2. Florida State Seminoles
Any time the Seminoles are ready to play a quality opponent, we’d be happy to watch, and right now that’s what’s keeping them at No. 2. That being said, there’s no denying how incredible Jameis Winston has been as a redshirt freshman, and he will ensure that Florida State is once again in position to compete for a conference and national championship. But until they beat a quality opponent (no Pitt doesn’t count) the Seminoles won’t climb any higher than No. 2 in the ACC power rankings.
1. Clemson Tigers
A Week 1 win over the Georgia Bulldogs catapulted the Tigers into contention for a national title, and until something drastic happens, there’s no doubt that Clemson is the top team in the ACC. The Tigers need to make sure they don’t get upset by a lesser opponent along the way, especially after a mediocre performance against N.C. State, but they have the talent on both sides of the ball that’s capable of winning the conference and playing for a BCS Title.