Another week of ACC play gives the Lee Enterprises sports team another data point in an attempt to figure out the unpredictable conference.
Virginia and Pittsburgh both looked strong in wins over Power Five opponents. The same can’t be said for N.C. State, which sputtered at Mississippi State. The Wolfpack tumbled down this week’s power poll.
The most disappointing result of the weekend came from Florida State, which gave up 14 points in the final five minutes to lose by three to Jacksonville State, an FCS program. A few injuries to ACC standouts may also shift the landscape of the conference.
This week’s ACC power poll includes votes from seven members of the Lee Enterprises sports team.
Voters: Bennett Conlin and John Shifflett (Charlottesville Daily Progress), Mike Barber and David Teel (Richmond Times-Dispatch), Aaron McFarling and Michael Niziolek (Roanoke Times) and Ethan Joyce (Winston-Salem Journal).
1. Clemson (1-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 1 last week, seven first-place votes): The Tigers manhandled South Carolina State last weekend, winning 49-3. The Tigers gained 504 yards, and talented young running back Will Shipley performed well. He ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, spearheading a rushing attack that amassed 242 yards and five touchdowns. Clemson still wants to see more consistent production from its passing game after the team’s quarterback room tossed a pair of interceptions. Up next: Georgia Tech, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
2. Virginia Tech (2-0, 1-0 ACC, No. 2 last week): Justin Fuente’s team started relatively slowly against Middle Tennessee State, only leading 14-7 at halftime. The Hokies scored 21 unanswered points to start the second half, pulling away from the Blue Raiders and winning 35-14. It’s easy to be excited about the team’s defense through two weeks after Virginia Tech held Sam Howell and North Carolina to 10 points in Week 1. Losing tight end James Mitchell for the season with injury is a tough blow for the offense. Up next: at West Virginia, Saturday, noon
3. North Carolina (1-1, 0-1 ACC, No. 4 last week): Sam Howell looked the part of an elite quarterback in the team’s 59-17 thrashing of Georgia State. The NFL Draft prospect threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns. He added 104 yards and two touchdowns as a runner as well, showcasing impressive mobility. The team hosts UVa this weekend in a critically important ACC Coastal Division matchup. Up next: Virginia, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
4. Virginia (2-0, 0-0 ACC, No. 6 last week): My goodness, the Cavaliers look strong through two games. Sure, William & Mary and Illinois aren’t overly impressive, but two wins by a combined score of 85-14 is nothing to brush aside. Virginia beat Illinois 42-14, scoring two touchdowns in the first five minutes and never relinquishing its lead. The Cavaliers are the only team to rank in the top three in the ACC in scoring offense and defense. Up next: at North Carolina, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
5. Pittsburgh (2-0, 0-0 ACC, No. 7 last week): Pitt won a shootout against Tennessee 41-34. The road victory is a solid one for the Panthers, who leaned heavily on Kenny Pickett and the passing attack. The team threw for 301 yards and three touchdowns, with Pickett accounting for 285 of the yards and two of the touchdowns. Pitt outscored Tennessee, which played Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker at quarterback quite a bit, 41-24 in the final three quarters. Up next: Western Michigan, Saturday, noon
6. Miami (1-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 5 last week): The Hurricanes escaped an upset bid by Appalachian State. The Mountaineers led 23-22 in the final five minutes, but a 43-yard field goal from Andres Borregales with 2:04 left handed Miami a 25-23 victory. One of our power-poll voters gave the Hurricanes a second-place vote, while another put the Hurricanes at No. 8. Miami is a tough team to figure out. Up next: Michigan State, Saturday, noon
7. Wake Forest (2-0, 0-0 ACC, No. 10 last week): Through two weeks, the Demon Deacons haven’t been tested. They cruised by Norfolk State 41-16, giving up a garbage time touchdown to make the final score seem more respectable. Wake Forest scored 34 of its points in the second and third quarters, pulling away in the middle of the game. ACC play begins for Wake Forest this week, and we should begin to learn more about this team’s ceiling. Up next: Florida State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
8. Boston College (2-0, 0-0 ACC, No. 8 last week): A 45-28 victory over UMass featured a few defensive lapses, but the most notable storyline from the game is the injury to Phil Jurkovec. Boston College’s starting quarterback injured his wrist in the contest, and he could miss the rest of the season. Fortunately for the Eagles, backup Dennis Grosel has thrown 229 career passes. He’s recorded 16 touchdowns to just six interceptions, and he’s a steady replacement. Up next: at Temple, Saturday, noon
9. North Carolina State (1-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 3 last week): After a dominant Week 1 win, the Wolfpack laid an egg in Week 2. They lost 24-10 to Mississippi State, giving up a kickoff return touchdown on the game’s opening play and using a garbage time touchdown in the final 70 seconds to make the score seem more respectable than it was. N.C. State has time to rebound, but the loss was disappointing. Star linebacker Payton Wilson suffered a season-ending injury in the game. Up next: Furman, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
10. Louisville (1-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 11 last week): We don’t have any life-altering takeaways from the team’s 30-3 win over Eastern Kentucky. The Cardinals led 20-3 at halftime and the outcome was never in doubt. Beating Eastern Kentucky isn’t the bar for Louisville, though. Louisville can wash its poor Week 1 showing against Ole Miss away this Friday when it gets a shot against future Big 12 member UCF. Up next: UCF, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
11. Georgia Tech (1-1, 0-0, No. 13 last week): Georgia Tech led Kennesaw State 24-3 at halftime, ultimately winning 45-17. The Yellow Jackets went to Jordan Yates at quarterback, and he delivered a gem. He completed 17 of his 23 passes for 254 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately for Georgia Tech, the schedule the rest of the season is brutal. Up next: at Clemson, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
12. Syracuse (1-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 12 last week): Rutgers defeated Syracuse 17-7 in a game that wasn’t pretty. Neither team scored in the first half before Rutgers pulled away in the final 30 minutes. A game against Albany this weekend gives Syracuse a great chance to improve to 2-1. Up next: Albany, Saturday, noon
13. Florida State (0-2, 0-0 ACC, No. 9 last week): Not all three-point losses are created equal. The Seminoles fell to Notre Dame 41-38 in Week 1, drawing praise for a raucous home crowd and a gritty performance. Jacksonville State used a 59-yard touchdown on the final play of the game to defeat Florida State 20-17 in Week 2, and everyone is wondering what’s wrong with the program. The Seminoles need to bounce back quickly. A loss to an FCS foe doesn’t look good for what used to be a college football powerhouse. Up next: at Wake Forest, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
14. Duke (1-1, 0-0 ACC, No. 14 last week): Duke took down NC A&T 45-17 last week for its first win of the season. Home games against Northwestern and Kansas in the next two weeks offer rare opportunities for this team to grab Power Five victories. Up next: Northwestern, Saturday, 4 p.m.