Louisville nearly caused a shakeup atop the ACC power poll, but Wake Forest earned a hard-fought home win over the Cardinals to keep the No. 1 spot in the rankings. The Demon Deacons aren’t a unanimous No. 1, though.
Clemson returned to its winning ways with a narrow victory over Boston College, and a couple of our voters aren’t ready to take the Tigers out of the No. 1 spot in the power poll just yet. It’s hard to blame them when Clemson is still favored just about every time it suits up against an ACC foe.
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. Wake Forest (5-0, 3-0 ACC, No. 1 last week, five first-place votes): Louisville pushed Wake Forest, but the Demon Deacons used a 29-yard field goal from Nick Sciba with 22 seconds left to pick up a 37-34 win over the Cardinals. Wake Forest struggled to slow down Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham, but the Demon Deacons’ offense put up over 500 yards of total offense. It’s Wake Forest’s first win this fall by fewer than 20 points. Up next: at Syracuse, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
2. N.C. State (4-1, 1-0 ACC, No. 2 last week): The Wolfpack followed up a win over Clemson with a 34-27 victory over Louisiana Tech. N.C. State, which won the turnover battle 2-0, led by at least a touchdown for the final 25 minutes of the game. Devin Leary threw for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Wolfpack, and the rushing attack averaged five yards per carry. Up next: Bye
3. Pittsburgh (4-1, 1-0 ACC, No. 6 last week): Pittsburgh looked fantastic, especially offensively, in a 52-21 win at Georgia Tech. The Panthers have scored at least 41 points in every game this fall. In fact, Pitt leads the country in scoring offense with an average of 52.4 points scored per game. Up next: Bye
4. Clemson (3-2, 2-1 ACC, No. 4 last week, two first-place votes): Clemson gutted out a 19-13 home win over Boston College last weekend. The offense is still a major work in progress, but the Tigers play defense exceptionally well. As disappointing as the Tigers have looked, they’re still in the ACC title picture thanks to a pair of six-point wins over Georgia Tech and Boston College. Perhaps a bye week will help the offense’s woes. Up next: Bye
5. Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC, No. 5 last week): While Pitt wins by lighting up the scoreboard, the Hokies rely on their stout defense. Virginia Tech has only scored 94 points through four games, but the defense has yielded just 61. Virginia Tech’s defense ranks 11th nationally in points allowed per contest. Will the bye week help the offense show up against Notre Dame this weekend? Up next: Notre Dame, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
6. Louisville (3-2, 1-1 ACC, No. 7 last week): Malik Cunningham threw for over 300 yards and ran for 46 more against the Demon Deacons, but his efforts weren’t enough in the team’s 37-34 loss to Wake Forest. The Cardinals aren’t a top-tier defensive team, but the group’s offense is dangerous. Cunningham and company should be excited about this weekend’s opponent, which has struggled on defense. Up next: Virginia, Saturday, 3 p.m.
7. Boston College (4-1, 0-1 ACC, No. 3 last week): The Eagles had the ball at Clemson’s 11-yard line in the final minute of Saturday’s game. Trailing by six, the stars were aligning for a potential one-point win over an ACC juggernaut. Instead, Boston College turned the ball over and lost 19-13. It’s a disheartening blow, but the Eagles have still performed well through five games this season. Up next: Bye
8. North Carolina (3-2, 2-2 ACC, No. 8 last week): UNC has three wins this fall. They’ve all come by at least 20 points. The Tar Heels demolished Duke 38-7 last weekend, but earlier losses to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will make it tough for UNC to win the Coastal. Mack Brown is 0-10 against Florida State, but UNC is a 17-point favorite this weekend. Up next: Florida State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
9. Virginia (3-2, 1-2 ACC, No. 11 last week): Miami missed a 33-yard field goal as time expired last Thursday, giving UVa a 30-28 victory. The Cavaliers looked decent offensively, and the defense showed some improvement. Miami only scored seven first-half points, and the Virginia defense recorded a safety in the win. It was a much-needed victory for a program trying to keep its hopes of winning the Coastal alive. Up next: at Louisville, Saturday, 3 p.m.
10. Georgia Tech (2-3, 1-2 ACC, No. 9 last week): The Yellow Jackets followed up a blowout win over UNC with a blowout loss to Pitt. Consistency is a major issue for Georgia Tech, which nearly beat Clemson on the road but also has a home loss to Northern Illinois. Up next: at Duke, Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
11. Miami (2-3, 0-1 ACC, No. 10 last week): The Hurricanes were outplayed by UVa for much of last Thursday’s game, but they still came close to pulling out a home win. Instead, a missed field goal as time expired handed UVa the 30-28 victory. The Hurricanes’ two wins are over Appalachian State and Central Connecticut State. Miami is 0-3 against Power Five competition. Up next: Bye
12. Florida State (1-4, 1-2 ACC, No. 14 last week): The Seminoles won a game! Florida State defeated Syracuse 33-30, finally getting into the win column. Quarterback Jordan Travis ran for over 100 yards for the Seminoles in the victory. Ryan Fitzgerald made a 34-yard field goal as time expired to put FSU on top. Florida State still earned one last-place vote in our poll. Up next: at North Carolina, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
13. Syracuse (3-2, 0-1 ACC, No. 12 last week): Beating Florida State would’ve gone a long way toward reaching six wins and making a bowl game. The Orange lost by three to the Seminoles, but they’ve been reasonably competitive for a team with no expectations entering the season. Syracuse, which earned two last-place votes in our poll, hosts a ranked team this weekend. Up next: Wake Forest, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
14. Duke (3-2, 0-1 ACC, No. 13 last week): Duke wasn’t competitive against UNC last weekend, losing 38-7. The Blue Devils did well to beat up on Northwestern and Kansas, but ACC competition is a step above those two Power Five teams. It could be a long conference season for Duke, which received four last-place votes. Up next: Georgia Tech, Saturday, 12:30 p.m.