ACC Power Rankings
Top 5 Teams in ACC
The ACC has been much improved this season, thanks in large part to some big out of conference wins. Clemson's win over Georgia in week one did a lot for the national perception of the ACC. Clemson solidified itself as a top-5 team in college football, and that win got even better when UGA defeated South Carolina the following week. Miami got a good win against Florida a couple of weeks ago, but that win was somewhat gift-wrapped for the Canes as the Gators turned it over five times in that game and left a lot of points out on the field. Virginia scored an underrated win against BYU, the same BYU team that hammered Texas a couple of weeks ago. However, there are some bad losses that are sprinkled in there as well. Virginia got thumped by Oregon, and Wake Forest lost to Louisiana-Monroe. New ACC members Pittsburgh and Syracuse got off to rough starts with Pitt getting blown out at home at the hands of Florida State on national television and Syracuse starting off 0-2. With that being said, these two teams have won two straight and Pitt secured its first ever ACC victory with a 58-55 win over Duke last weekend.
North Carolina is the most disappointing team so far in the ACC this year. They looked pedestrian against South Carolina and then let Georgia Tech run all over them again as they have stumbled to a 1-2 record out of the gates. Virginia Tech might have the best defense in the country, but because of poor offensive play, they find themselves in an uphill battle this year. Logan Thomas has regressed as a quarterback and his struggles will equal struggles for the Hokies as a whole. North Carolina State's defense looks strong as they did a good job of containing that Clemson offense last Thursday, but they are still searching for playmakers on offense. But enough about the struggling teams, let's get to the top-5 teams in the ACC after four weeks of football.
5. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech is currently the only team in the ACC with a 2-0 record. They have defeated both teams on Tobacco Road with a 38-14 win over Duke and a 28-20 victory over North Carolina this past weekend. Paul Johnson's running attack is as solid as it has ever been in Atlanta, but quarterback Vad Lee is the reason why the Yellow Jackets have gotten off to such a good start. Lee is a big quarterback who reminds me of Josh Nesbitt but with better throwing accuracy. Lee is yielding a 7-1 touchdown to interception ratio and has also run for three scores. He is a workhorse, which was on display last weekend against UNC when he carried the ball 24 times. This Thursday the Jackets welcome Virginia Tech to Bobby Dodd Stadium in a key Coastal division matchup. The winner of this game will have virtually a two-game lead over the loser in the standings, so the importance of this game should not be underplayed.
Most people would have Miami ranked higher than just fourth in the ACC probably because of their win against Florida a couple weeks ago. However, Florida lost that game more than Miami won it. The Gators turned it over five times and left too many points on the field. Miami is now 3-0 and coming off a 77-7 victory over Savannah State, a game that was embarrassing for both schools. Quarterback Stephen Morris injured his ankle in that game, but the x-rays were negative. This week the Canes travel to USF where they will be a heavy favorite. After they deal with the Bulls, Miami will finally open up ACC play when they host Georgia Tech on October 5. This game could be a clash of the two best teams in the Coastal division, so the winner will definitely have the inside track to get to Charlotte for the ACC Championship game. We will learn a lot about the Coastal division over the course of the next two weeks.
Not a lot of people are talking about Maryland, but they should be. Maryland is the most improved team in the ACC and has already tied their win total from a year ago. The Terps are now 4-0 and coming off of a blowout victory over rival West Virginia, 37-0. It took a few years for Randy Edsall to get things going in College Park, but they are rolling now. Two weeks ago they won at Connecticut, Edsall's old school, 32-21 and now have a bye week before they travel to Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles for their ACC opener. Maryland is led by their dual-threat quarterback C.J. Brown, who has passed for 1043 yards with seven touchdowns and only one interception. Brown has also rushed for 283 yards with six rushing touchdowns. He has a dynamic receiver on the outside in Stefon Diggs, who is averaging 100 receiving yards per game. He has also caught three touchdown passes as well. The rest of the ACC needs to take notice, because Maryland has playmakers on offense and an improving defense who just pitched a shut-out against a Dana Holgorsen offense.
2. Florida State
Florida State finds their way in the No. 2 spot based simply on their talent level. The Seminoles have yet to be challenged on the field as they have wins over Pitt, Nevada, and Bethune-Cookman. Their freshman quarterback, Jameis Winston, looks good sporting a 78 percent completion percentage and 8-1 touchdown to interception ratio. However, he has yet to see a good defense and likely won't see one until FSU travels to Death Valley to play Clemson on October 19. Florida State is still loaded with talent on defense and have a running back by committee type philosophy on offense. It is very hard to judge how good this team is due to their schedule, and we likely will not learn much this weekend when they play at Boston College. However, in two weeks the Noles will play host to an undefeated Maryland squad who is hungry for success and want to prove their worth. We will know more about Jimbo Fisher's team in the month of October.
I think it is safe to say that Clemson has earned the No. 1 spot on this list due to their strength of schedule. They beat a top-10 SEC team in Georgia and won at North Carolina State last Thursday night. Tajh Boyd has nine total touchdowns and has yet to turn the ball over this season. Receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant have big-play capabilities every time they are on the field. This week the Tigers host a disappointing Wake Forest team who is clearly outmatched. The Clemson offense should get back into a grove against Jim Grobe's Demon Deacons and put up big numbers. Everyone is circling that October 19 matchup with Florida State, but the good thing for the Tigers is that they are battle-tested and know what kind of team that they have. Florida State will go into that game with a lot of unknowns due to their weak schedule, and that could play a huge factor. Clemson's defense has improved from last season, but more improvements are going to be needed for the Tigers to keep playing at a high level.