While the top few slots in the ACC pecking order are becoming clear, the middle of the league continues shuffling on a week-to-week basis.
After a great win over North Carolina, Florida State quickly returned to its losing ways in blowout fashion. UNC, on the other hand, turned the page from its upset loss to the Seminoles, destroying N.C. State.
Virginia fans saw their team push a top-15 Miami team to the brink, but come up just short. On the bright side for UVa fans, Virginia Tech stumbled on the road against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons find themselves climbing the ACC standings after three consecutive victories, including two in conference play.
Notre Dame finally started looking the part of a College Football Playoff contender, making the next few weeks of the ACC title chase more entertaining.
1. Clemson (6-0, 5-0 ACC, No. 1 last week): What a surprise! Clemson remains at No. 1. The Tigers weren’t perfect in their 47-21 victory over Syracuse, but they still won by 26. When asked about the stretches of sloppiness in his postgame press conference, Dabo Swinney shot back with some sass. Even when Clemson plays poorly, it wins by 26. The team’s baseline standard exceeds that of just about every other team in the country. Up next: vs. Boston College, Saturday, noon
2. Notre Dame (5-0, 4-0 ACC, No. 2 last week): There’s the Notre Dame that can keep pace with Clemson. The Fighting Irish showed why many consider them the ACC squad best suited to beat the Tigers, thrashing Pitt 45-3 in a complete team performance. Notre Dame needs increased consistency to hang with Clemson in two weeks, but playing at home should help the cause. Up next: at Georgia Tech, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
3. Miami (5-1, 4-1 ACC, No. 4 last week): D’Eriq King played well Saturday, but the Hurricanes struggled to turn good drives into touchdowns. UVa’s defense bent but didn’t break in Miami’s 19-14 home victory. Regardless of the margin of victory, there’s something to be said for being undefeated against teams other than Clemson. Up next: Bye
4. North Carolina (4-1, 4-1 ACC, No. 5 last week): The Tar Heels took advantage of an N.C. State team without its starting quarterback. The Wolfpack couldn’t keep up with UNC’s high-powered offense. Quarterback Sam Howell draw’s plenty of headlines, but the rushing attack led the way with 326 yards and five touchdowns in the Tar Heels' 48-21 victory. Javonte Williams found the end zone three times Saturday. Up next: at Virginia, Saturday, 8 p.m.
5. Virginia Tech (3-2, 3-2 ACC, No. 3 last week): It’s too soon to jump completely off the Virginia Tech bandwagon. The Hokies' 23-16 loss at Wake Forest came as a bit of a shock, but Tech still holds the pieces needed to finish the season strong. Finding a passing attack, especially on plays when the defense expects a pass, will be paramount the rest of the way. Winnable games against Louisville and Liberty sit next on the schedule. Up next: at Louisville, Saturday, 4 p.m.
6. Boston College (4-2, 3-2 ACC, No. 7 last week): Jeff Hafley sits squarely in the ACC Coach of the Year race after leading his team to a 4-2 start this fall. The Eagles made easy work of Georgia Tech, winning 48-27 after scoring the first 24 points of the game. Up next: at Clemson, Saturday, noon
7. N.C. State (4-2, 4-2 ACC, No. 6 last week): Playing without starting quarterback Devin Leary hurts, but the defense also struggled in the Wolfpack’s 48-21 loss to North Carolina. UNC rushed for over 300 yards on the afternoon, turning the rivalry game into a blowout. Up next: Bye
8. Wake Forest (3-2, 2-2 ACC, No. 9 last week): The Demon Deacons took down Virginia Tech 23-16 a week after running past UVa 40-23. Wake Forest moved through the ACC teams from the commonwealth, and it turns its attention toward a winnable road game. The Demon Deacons look promising after their 0-2 start. Up next: at Syracuse, Saturday, noon
9. Pittsburgh (3-4, 2-4 ACC, No. 8 last week): Remember when Pitt felt like a potential ACC contender through three games? Feels like years ago. The injury to starting quarterback Kenny Pickett doesn’t help, but not much went well in any phase in the team’s 45-3 loss to Notre Dame. Maybe the Panthers will piece things together next year. Up next: Bye
10. Louisville (2-4, 1-4 ACC, No. 13 last week): Saturday’s 48-16 win over Florida State likely brought a sigh of relief out of many Louisville fans. Finally, fans saw the team they expected entering this fall. The Cardinals possess plenty of firepower, and it delivered in the 32-point smashing of the Seminoles. Next: vs. Virginia Tech, Saturday, 4 p.m.
11. Virginia (1-4, 1-4 ACC, No. 12 last week): UVa doesn’t believe it’s a bad team, despite what the record says. Saturday’s performance indicated the Cavaliers deserve more respect. They kept the game close in a 19-14 loss to Miami, and linebacker Charles Snowden played his best game this fall. In the end, however, wins matter most, and the Cavaliers once again failed to achieve their desired outcome. Up next: vs. North Carolina, Saturday, 8 p.m.
12. Georgia Tech (2-4, 2-3 ACC, No. 10 last week): The Yellow Jackets fell to Boston College 48-27 a week after losing to Clemson 73-7. That’s horrendous, and it may get worse this weekend. Up next: vs. Notre Dame, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
13. Florida State (2-4, 1-4 ACC, No. 11 last week): A massive upset win over North Carolina was followed by a 48-16 loss to Louisville in which Florida State completed just 14 of its 41 passes. Such is life for a rebuilding program. Up next: Bye
14. Duke (1-5, 1-5 ACC, No. 14 last week): Duke returns from its bye week with a game it should win. The Blue Devils are favored by about 10 points against Charlotte. Up next: vs. Charlotte, Saturday, 7 p.m.
15. Syracuse (1-5, 1-4 ACC, No. 15 last week): The Orange covered the spread against Clemson, only losing 47-21 and looking respectable for stretches. That’s not bad given the state of the Syracuse program. Up next: at Wake Forest, Saturday, noon
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