Last week was one ACC football fans might want to forget.
Clemson fell to Georgia in a competitive showdown of top teams, Miami was run off the field by Alabama, Duke fell to Charlotte, Georgia Tech was stunned by Northern Illinois and Louisville lost by 19 to Ole Miss in a prime-time game on ESPN.
Virginia Tech and Florida State represented the conference well in marquee games, salvaging an otherwise lackluster weekend.
Despite the disappointing showings, Virginia Tech joined Clemson, Miami and North Carolina in the latest AP top 25 poll. Teams like Pittsburgh and N.C. State could soon join their conference peers in the rankings, as Week 2 features plenty of opportunities for the ACC to take down Power Five foes in nonconference showings.
After a full slate of games, this week’s ACC power poll saw some noticeable shifts.
We also added to the power poll voting panel, which now consists of six members of the Lee Enterprises sports team. The Voters: Bennett Conlin and John Shifflett (Charlottesville Daily Progress), Mike Barber and David Teel (Richmond Times-Dispatch), and Aaron McFarling and Michael Niziolek (Roanoke Times).
1. Clemson (0-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 1 last week, six first-place votes): When including sacks, Clemson averaged just 0.1 yards per rush in its 10-3 loss to Georgia. The passing attack wasn’t much better, averaging 4.8 yards per pass attempt. While the offense sputtered in Week 1, the defense was elite. A Georgia interception return for a touchdown was the difference, as both teams failed to generate offensive consistency. Clemson should be favored in every game the rest of the regular season. Up next: South Carolina State, Saturday, 5 p.m.
2. Virginia Tech (1-0, 1-0 ACC, No. 5 last week): Justin Fuente likely needs a good season to retain his job. His team is off to a hot start. A 17-10 win over No. 10 North Carolina puts the Hokies in a superb position to contend for the ACC Coastal Division championship. A full crowd in Lane Stadium made a seismic impact. Up next: Middle Tennessee State, Saturday, 2 p.m.
3. N.C. State (1-0, 0-0 ACC, No. 4 last week): All offseason, media members pegged the Wolfpack as a team to watch in the ACC. A 45-0 blowout win over South Florida showcased why people believe in N.C. State. Devin Leary performed admirably at quarterback, and the team’s 1-2 running back punch of Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person Jr. combined for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, the Wolfpack were the only ACC team to shut out an FBS team in Week 1. Up next: at Mississippi State, Saturday, 7 p.m.
4. North Carolina (0-1, 0-1 ACC, No. 2 last week): Virginia Tech’s defense reminded fans and media members just how much the Tar Heels lost at the offensive skill positions. The Hokies largely shut down Sam Howell and company, forcing three interceptions in their 17-10 win. On the plus side for UNC, the season-opening road trip to Blacksburg is followed by six consecutive home games. The first five come against unranked teams. Up next: Georgia State, Saturday, 7 p.m.
5. Miami (0-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 3 last week): Miami looked lost against No. 1 Alabama. In the Hurricanes’ defense, a lot of teams look lost against the Crimson Tide. The Hurricanes are far from a national title contender, but the loss doesn’t hurt the team’s chances of winning the Coastal. A home game against Appalachian State is no gimme, and Miami needs a strong showing to avoid a dreaded 0-2 start. Up next: Appalachian State, Saturday, 7 p.m.
6. Virginia (1-0, 0-0 ACC, No. 6 last week): A slow start turned into a blowout win over William & Mary. The Cavaliers posted their first shutout since the 2018 Belk Bowl, defeating the Tribe 43-0. Brennan Armstrong earned ACC Co-Quarterback of the Week honors for his 339-yard passing performance. He finished the game with four total touchdowns. Up next: Illinois, Saturday, 11 a.m.
7. Pittsburgh (1-0, 0-0 ACC, No. 8 last week): Kenny Pickett and company took care of business against UMass, cruising to a 51-7 win. The Panthers’ quarterback threw for 272 yards and pair of touchdowns in the team’s victory. After a disappointing Week 1 for the ACC, Pitt has a chance to provide a minor boost to the conference’s perception this weekend against an SEC opponent. Up next: at Tennessee, Saturday, noon
8. Boston College (1-0, 0-0 ACC, No. 7 last week): Colgate is a lower-tier FCS program, and the Eagles made sure to take advantage of a winnable matchup. Boston College won 51-0, playing good defense and airing the ball out. ACC Co-Quarterback of the Week Phil Jurkovec threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns. He was efficient running as well, racking up 61 yards on five carries. Up next: at UMass, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
9. Florida State (0-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 11 last week): A decent first half was followed by a shaky third quarter, but the Seminoles fought back to push Notre Dame to overtime. Florida State lost 41-38 in the first overtime after failing to score, but quarterbacks Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton both showed promise. Milton starred late, leading the team’s comeback in his first game action since suffering a severe leg injury in 2018 while a member of UCF’s team. FSU was a polarizing team in our poll, being selected as high as sixth and as low as 11th. Up next: Jacksonville State, Saturday, 8 p.m.
10. Wake Forest (1-0, 0-0 ACC, No. 10 last week): The Demon Deacons opened their season with a dominant 42-10 triumph over Old Dominion. Christian Beal-Smith shined, running for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Ja’Sir Taylor added a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown and an interception. Up next: Norfolk State, Saturday, noon
11. Louisville (0-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 9 last week): Scott Satterfield’s group struggled mightily in the first half against Ole Miss, ultimately falling 43-24. The Cardinals were never really in the game, with the outcome seemingly decided after the opening half. The Rebels led 26-0 after 30 minutes. A home game with Eastern Kentucky gives the team a chance to bounce back. Up next: Eastern Kentucky, Saturday, 7 p.m.
12. Syracuse (1-0, 0-0 ACC, No. 13 last week): The Orange went on the road and picked up a 29-9 victory over what’s expected to be a respectable Ohio team. Beating a MAC school isn’t astounding, but it’s a good start to the season for a program with minimal expectations this fall. Upsetting Rutgers would go a long way toward avoiding a subpar season. Up next: Rutgers, Saturday, 2 p.m.
13. Georgia Tech (0-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 12 last week): Entering the season, there was optimism that the Yellow Jackets would take a step forward. A daunting schedule seemed like the biggest obstacle facing Georgia Tech, but a Northern Illinois team that went 0-6 a season ago tripped up the Yellow Jackets in Week 1. That’s a bad loss. Up next: Kennesaw State, Saturday, noon
14. Duke (0-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 14 last week): Duke’s claim to fame this fall might be its battle to avoid being considered the worst Power Five football program. A loss to Charlotte, which was the 49ers’ first win over a Power Five team in program history, doesn’t help the cause. Upcoming games with Northwestern and Kansas offer winnable matchups against lackluster Power Five foes. Up next: North Carolina A&T, Friday, 8 p.m.