After this week's games I've identified 4 tiers of the ACC: Florida State, Clemson, and then two clusters of teams. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea how big each of those clusters are and which teams belong in them. This week was a bad one for the ACC. We saw an embarrassing loss by Virginia Tech (who was supposed to be our third best team) and non-conference losses by Maryland, North Carolina, and Boston College. After the jump, I'll attempt to rank these teams as best I can. I'm sure we'll have some disagreements, so as always, please feel free to comment what you think the rankings should be.
1. Florida State (W 52-0 vs. Wake Forest) (3-0, 1-0) LW 1
Next Week: Clemson
The Seminoles were nothing short of dominant in their 52-0 victory over the Deacs on Saturday. Chris Thompson was special as he finished finished with 197 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on just 9 carries. Florida State takes on the #9 Clemson Tigers next Saurday at 8 pm on ABC. Clemson's offense has been very explosive so far this season, but they are facing an entirely different animal in the Florida State defense. Look for Florida State's defense to make the Clemson offense look somewhat pedestrian. On the other side of the ball, expect Chris Thompson to continue finding the end zone. Clemson gave up 252 rushing yards to Ball State, just imagine what Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr., and EJ Manuel will do.
2. Clemson (W 41-7 vs. Furman) (3-0, 0-0) LW 2
Next Week: at Florida State
It's time to see what this Clemson offense can really do. In hindsight, the win over Auburn now only looks somewhat impressive. It's one thing to rack up points over Ball State and Furman, but can they do it in Tallahassee against one of the 5 best defenses in the country? Next week we'll know A LOT more about both teams.
3. Georgia Tech (W 56-20 vs. Virginia) (2-1, 1-1) LW 4
Next Week: Miami
This team is clicking on offense right now. Giving up that late touchdown drive on Labor Day against Virginia Tech is probably going to be the reason this team doesn't represent the Coastal in the ACC Championship. After Virginia Tech's loss to Pittsburgh, you have to question how legitimate this Georgia Tech team is, but in the meantime you can only reward them for their impressive offensive outputs as of late.
4. North Carolina State (W 31-7 vs. South Alabama) (2-1, 0-0) LW 7
Next Week: Citadel
Mike Glennon was very solid in this game as he tossed 3 touchdowns and had 0 interceptions. State took care of business in the first half by going up 28-0 before chewing clock for the majority of the second half. It is troubling that they only beat Connecticut by 3 points, but it was on the road and they did get the win. Next week the Wolfpack takes on the Citadel so we won't leran much, but their trip to Miami will be telling.
5. Virginia Tech (L 35-17 at Pittsburgh) (2-1, 1-0) LW 3
Next Week: Bowling Green
I don't actually think N.C. State is better than Virginia Tech, but I must penalize Virginia Tech for losing to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh? Seriously? Pittsburgh lost to Youngstown State by 2 touchdowns and got crushed by Cincinnati. It is definitely a rebuilding year for the Hokies' offense, but this loss is still unacceptable. That sound you hear is Logan Thomas' draft stock plummet. Because they hold the tie-breaker over Georgia Tech, they will probably still win the Coastal, but don't look for it to be a very competitive championship game.
6. North Carolina (L 39-34 at Louisville) (1-2, 0-1) LW 6
Next Week: East Carolina
Their game against Louisville started out pretty ugly, and only got worse. It was 35-7 at halftime, but North Carolina came storming back and even had a chance to win it with under a minute to go. I give North Carolina credit for being resilient and not quitting in this game. Ultimately, though, Teddy Bridgewater and company were just too much for the Tar Heels.
7. Wake Forest (L 52-0 at Florida State) (2-1, 1-1) LW 5
Next Week: Army
Last week was beyond ugly. Florida State was clearly seeking revenge from last year and they proved what a great advantage it is to have vastly superior size and athleticism. For Wake, they just have to forget about it and focus on Army. If we are to take one positive thing out of this game, I think it's the fact that we didn't turn the ball over against Florida State. In competitive ball games, those extra possessions will be absolutely critical. The upcoming stretch of their schedule includes home games against Army and Duke, followed by road games at Maryland and Virginia. Wake should definitely go 3-1 in those 4 games, and if they do, all things look very promising for a bowl berth come December.
8. Miami (W 38-10 vs. Bethune-Cookman) (2-1, 1-0) LW 11
Next Week: at Georgia Tech
Duke Johnson was back at it again against Bethune-Cookman. The freshman sensation had 246 all-purpose yards and 4 touchdowns, unfortunately for him, Miami fans were nowhere to be found. The announced attendance was 39,345, but there is no way on Earth that many fans were in attendance on Saturday. This was a good bounce back win for the Canes, but next week is a big reality check when they travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech.
9. Virginia (L 56-20 at Georgia Tech) (2-1, 0-1) LW 8
Next Week: at TCU
Last week's narrow escape over Penn State was a strong indicator that this team simply isn't that good, and their game at Georgia Tech proved it. Virginia allowed Georgia Tech to accumulate 594 yards of total offense. Next week this team travels to Texas to take on #17 TCU. In all likelihood Virginia will be returning fro m their trip with a 2-2 record.
10. Duke (W 54-17 vs. North Carolina Central) (2-1, 0-0) LW 12
Next Week: Memphis
I guess it's possible to say their loss last week at Stanford doesn't look as bad now, but it's still not like it was a competitive game. Next week Duke finishes up the cupcake portion of their schedule. After that they travel to Winston-Salem to take on the Deacs, a team they have lost to the last 12 times they've played.
11. Boston College (L 22-13 at Northwestern) (1-2, 0-1) LW 10
Next Week: BYE
Boston College only lost this game by 9, but they got outgained by more than 240 yards, and lost the time of possession battle by 10 minutes. That is not a winning formula. They have a bye week before facing Clemson on the 29th. I'm not entirely sure that bye week is going to help them that much. Their next winnable game appears to be at Army on October 6th. With the Patriots loss yesterday, I wouldn't want to be a football fan in the northeast right now.
12. Maryland (L 24-21 vs. Connecticut) (2-1, 0-0) LW 9
Next Week: at West Virginia
This one could get very ugly next week. I expect Geno Smith and the Mountaineers to roll all over Maryland. Maryland started playing BCS schools again, and it was back to reality for them. Maryland fans perhaps put it best when they started cheering "Take him back" in reference to their head coach Randy Edsall, who was the former head coach at Connecticut.