After months of arbitrary offseason shuffling, we finally have some actual games to base these rankings off of. All 14 ACC squads were in action last week, and while many performed admirably, several manged to disappoint as well. Check out the list below, and weigh in down in the comments if you disagree.
1. Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1): The Seminoles did a commendable job pummeling Murray State on Saturday. And that defense — just as impressive as they’ve ever been. Unfortunately, however, the big win came with a steep price. Star defensive end Brandon Jenkins injured his foot, and is now out for the remainder of the season. We won’t know how much the loss affects FSU this week, but once the real slate starts, it’ll be all too apparent.
2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Everything about Saturday’s win over Auburn was exceptional. Andre Ellington‘s ground game. Tajh Boyd‘s ability to make plays work through the air and on the ground. The offensive line’s maturity right in front of our eyes. And of course, the defense quickly showing they’d learned a thing or two from new coordinator Brent Venables.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels (LW: 6): Everyone worried about how Giovani Bernard would fit into Larry Fedora’s offense. After the 62-0 drubbing they handed Elon, I think he’ll fit in just fine. Three TDs on just 12 touches will do that sort of thing. Obviously there’s more difficult opponents out there, but the big win appears to be an appetizer for what’s in store for this offense.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): Another slow start for the Hokies, though this year, they manage to win the opener. If Virginia Tech gave the game ball to anyone on Monday night, it should’ve been handed right over to their opponent’s QB. Aside from their late drive for the game-tying field goal, the offense appeared listless and the O-line issues are real.
5. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (LW: 5): The Ramblin’ Wreck played a hell of a game on defense, getting after Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas and disrupting the entire flow of their offense. But when it came down to stopping them late in the fourth, they just couldn’t get it done. Oh, and then there’s Tevin Washington‘s little mishap. If he continues making those sorts of decisions, he won’t be under center much longer.
6. Virginia Cavaliers (LW: 7): Fresh off winning the starting QB job, Michael Rocco did just fine in his season debut, throwing for over 300 yards, with a touchdown too. With a surprisingly high-powered offense, the Hoos put this one away early and gave off the poise of a team ready to prove last year was no fluke.
7. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (LW: 11): The ‘Canes defense may still need some help, but as long as freshman running back Duke Johnson is carrying the ball, Miami may end up much better than advertised (by me, at least). It’s a young group, so experience will come with more games. But for now, they’re looking like a team that could put a scare into some folks.
8. NC State Wolfpack (LW: 5): The myth’s been busted. Star corner David Amerson is not bulletproof, but rather, has found himself in particularly advantageous positions when it comes to interceptions. The young man’s not a fraud, of course. But it’ll be interesting to see if other teams decide to attack him the same way Tennessee did last Friday. If so, it’ll end up defining his football career (for better or worse).
9. Syracuse Orange (LW: 9): After this weekend’s brutal 42-41 loss, there’s little you can do as a team but collectively regroup and learn from your mistakes. As has been a consistent issue, the mental errors and crunch-time defense lacked the Orange once again. In newer developments, SU currently has the country’s best passing offense, with some truly horrifying possibilities for opposing defenses.
10. Duke Blue Devils (LW: 13): For the first time in a long time, there may be something to believe in at Duke. Sure, it’s only been one game, but many suddenly have a sneaky suspicion about the Blue Devils’ chances against Stanford next week. With that lights-out passing game, and a few lucky breaks on defense, believe that the big upset can absolutely happen in Palo Alto, Calif.
11. Boston College Eagles (LW: 12): This team looks like it’s been born anew, and I’ll readily admit this ranking probably doesn’t seem fair considering the effort the Eagles put in on Saturday. Last year’s squad was tepid, boring and uneventful. This year, no matter the record, it appears we’ll be watching a fun, exciting BC team led by the throwing arm of former mortal Chase Rettig.
12. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (LW: 10): I wasn’t aware rain gave FCS teams superpowers, Wake Forest. The Deacons were outplayed badly this weekend, yet managed to eek out a disaster-averting 20-17 victory over Liberty. Among many other things, they’ll need to work on rushing the passer, pass protection and now, the running game too after losing RB Josh Harris (again).
13. Pittsburgh Panthers (LW: 8): I’m not sure we can use the six pre-game suspensions to explain away Pitt’s embarrassing two-TD loss to Youngstown State. But from what we saw on the field, it’s obvious there’s plenty more work to do for the Panthers to begin their rebuilding process. The vaunted rushing game was a non-factor, and their defense — another supposed strong point — appeared weak in comparison to a FCS school. Not a great start for new head coach Paul Chryst.
14. Maryland Terrapins (LW: 14): We can all agree that a 7-6 win over William & Mary is pretty much the same thing as a 7-6 loss to them, no? There’s opportunities to build over the course of the season, and I have no doubt that QB Perry Hills will improve his game over time. That said, if you’re going to be held to single-digit scoring by a CAA team, then you’re probably headed for a very difficult season.