"They are who we thought they were." That's what a lot of national pundits are saying about the Atlantic Coast Conference after this past weekend's slate of games. The ACC saw its teams lose to teams from the Sun Belt, WAC, and Big East conferences. After the jump you'll see my rankings, and I invite you all to help me sort out the mess that is the bottom of the ACC. It's not going to be easy.
1. Florida State (W 30-17 at South Florida) (5-0, 2-0) LW 1
Next Week: at North Carolina State
A somewhat pedestrian effort from the number three team in the nation, but even so, they still cruised to victory over South Florida. Even though it wasn't their best game, the Seminoles still dominated time of possession, the turnover battle, and total yards. That shows just how talented this Florida State team. I expect them to take care of business against North Carolina State. I believe Florida State will establish the run early and then use play action and take advantage of an undisciplined North Carolina secondary.
2. Clemson (W 45-31 at Boston College) (4-1, 1-1) LW 2
Next Week: vs. Georgia Tech
Clemson avoided pulling a Clemson this past Saturday against Boston College. They were able to take care of business without their best receiver in Sammy Watkins on the road against Boston College. Clemson now returns to Death Valley to take on a Georgia Tech team coming off an embarrassing home loss to Middle Tennessee State, before having two weeks to prepare for Virginia Tech. Looking at their schedule, it looks like Clemson could easily be sitting at 10-1 heading into their matchup against in-state rival South Carolina.
3. Miami (W 44-37 vs. North Carolina State) (4-1, 3-0) LW 5
Next Week: at Notre Dame (Solider Field in Chicago)
The Hurricanes proved they were the third best team in the ACC with their victory over the Wolfpack on Saturday. Stephen Morris set a Miami and ACC record with 566 passing yards, including a game-winning 62 yard pass to Phillip Dorsett with 19 seconds remaining. Seriously, what was the North Carolina State secondary doing on that play? Miami is getting better every week, and they could legitimately go 7-1 in the ACC. The 'U' certainly isn't 'back,' but that doesn't mean they can't win the Coastal. I expect them to play the Seminoles in the ACC Championship.
4. North Carolina (W 66-0 vs. Idaho) (3-2, 0-1) LW 6
Next Week: vs. Virginia Tech
Not really much to say here. The Tar Heels scheduled an Idaho team and beat them 66-0. Freshman Marquis Williams proved why he was so heavily recruited as a dual-threat quarterback, and in the future should be one of the better quarterbacks in the ACC. I think they'll start to utilize him in more packages as the season progresses.
5. Duke (W 34-27 at Duke) (4-1, 1-0) LW 9
Next Week: vs. Virginia
Duke may not be the fifth best team in the conference, but I'm putting them here because they are beating the teams on their schedule and no one else in the conference is. Duke is going to make a bowl. This team has strong a strong passing attack behind Sean Renfree and can bring in Anthony Boone to run jet sweep/wildcat formations. I expect this team to beat Virginia this Saturday, and after that they will only need to win one more game to earn a bowl berth.
6. North Carolina State (L 44-37 at Miami) (3-2, 0-1) LW 3
Next Week: vs. Florida State
North Carolina State is undisciplined and that final Miami touchdown is a prime example. The Wolfpack rank 80th nationally in penalty yards/game. They also have a turnover margin of -2, it's -5 if you exclude their FCS games. That lack of discipline will get them killed by Florida State this Saturday. I think it's time to put Tom O'Brien on the hot seat, because this program has the potential to be doing better than they are.
7. Virginia Tech (L 27-24 vs. Cincinnati) (3-2, 1-0) LW 4
Next Week: at North Carolina
Well that loss to Pittsburgh wasn't a fluke, and that win over Georgia Tech wasn't impressive. This is definitely a rebuilding year for Frank Beamer and his staff. This team is still good enough to make a bowl game, but I no longer believe they are good enough to win the Coastal. I don't think they'll be able to put up enough points to beat the Hurricanes on November 1st.
8. Maryland (BYE) (2-2, 0-0) LW 10
Next Week: vs. Wake Forest
After watching West Virginia hang 70 on Baylor this weekend, the fact that Maryland was able to hold the Mountaineers to "just" 31 points is very impressive. If their defense can hold the Mountaineers to 31 points, I expect the Deacs to have a very difficult time to score against Maryland, especially considering the loss of Michael Campanaro. Their next 5 games are all winnable, and fans in Maryland may just yet come to root for Randy Edsall.
9. Boston College (L 45-31 vs. Clemson) (1-3, 0-2) LW 12
Next Week: at Army
Last week I placed Boston College last because I questioned their ability to hang with a top-10 team the way Maryland did. Boston College was able to do just that as they played a strong game against Clemson on Saturday. Boston College's record is not an accurate reflection of their football team. They have lost to Miami, Northwestern, and Clemson, who are a combined 13-2. Boston College should take care of business at Army next week, but their schedule is just too difficult for them to make a bowl.
10. Wake Forest (W 34-27 vs. Duke) (3-2, 1-2) LW 8
Next Week: at Maryland
This is the most disappointed I've been in the Deacs since our 62-14 loss to Maryland in 2010. We were favored to win at home, but instead Duke just flat out outplayed us and proved that they were just better. Our fundamentals were poor. We couldn't tackle and we couldn't catch. I felt terrible for Tanner Price, because time and time again he put the ball in the perfect spot for our receivers only to have it dropped. Without Michael Campanaro we just could not move the ball. The timing could not have been worse as it happened early on during the game and comes in the weeks before games against Maryland and Virginia. We knew Campanaro was extremely valuable before, but it appears that even with all of his accolades he was under appreciated. I no longer expect to make a bowl.
11. Georgia Tech (L 49-28 vs. Middle Tennessee) (2-3, 1-2) LW 7
Next Week: at Clemson
Georgia Tech wins the award for most embarrassing loss of the weekend. The Yellow Jackets were 27 point favorites over Middle Tennessee, but instead lost by 21 at home. They allowed 49 points to Middle Tennessee State, just imagine how many Clemson is going to score in Death Valley. Games at Clemson and Georgia are essentially guaranteed losses, so the Yellow Jackets will need to win 4 of their other 5 remaining games in order to earn a bowl berth.
12. Virginia (L 44-38 vs. Louisiana Tech) (2-3, 0-1) LW 11
Next Week: at Duke
Their game at Duke all of a sudden looks to be pretty difficult. Their 56-20 loss at Georgia Tech now appears to be just pathetic. I believe Mike London should make the permanent switch to Phillip Sims, but I'm not sure he's going to do so. Sims came into the game and threw for 166 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. Their next three games are against Duke, Maryland, and Wake Forest. The results of those three games will go a long way in determining if they become bowl eligible. I believe Phillip Sims gives them the best chance of making one.