The season’s four weeks old, and surprisingly, the ACC‘s still got a good deal of unbeaten teams within its ranks. Perhaps the league’s rebounded in a big way? Or maybe they just figured out how to schedule better from a PR standpoint? I’d bet a little bit of both. As always, the poll includes all 14 current ACC members, plus future member Louisville. Feel like I’m totally right or completely off-base? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
ACC Football Power Rankings 2013 (Week 5)
1. Clemson Tigers (3-0) (1-0) (Last: 1): Clemson almost became the latest high-ranked victim of Raleigh, N.C. But due to a questionable out-of-bounds call and a fantastic effort by the Tigers’ defense, they manged to escape and remain in the national title conversation. Also worth noting: Tajh Boyd has sort of entered a bizarre realm in which nothing he does impresses us anymore. Throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns in a win should still be an accomplishment, even if you are the league’s most consistently excellent passer.
2. Florida State Seminoles (3-0) (1-0) (Last: 2): Jameis Winston isn’t perfect! Or so we’ve discovered… The Florida State passer completed just 10 of 19 passes for 148 yards and two scores, and was one of many FSU players who had a less-than-stellar game against the team’s worst competition to-date. So is this a case of State just looking ahead to the rest of the slate, or an opportunity to cast some doubt on the ‘Noles? They’ve yet to be tested at this point, but they’ve also looked less impressive in each successive game. Time will tell, I suppose…
3. Louisville Cardinals (4-0) (0-0) (Last: 3): Like most, I’d love to get to the bottom of this running clock situation from Saturday, as it makes the Cardinals’ blowout of FIU even more impressive. But already four games in to this schedule to forget, it’s already gotten a bit sad, no? Of course, Teddy Bridgewater‘s numbers should not be discounted as a result, but we’re all starting to see the issues brought to light in preseason. Louisville’s playing through a 12-team disaster movie and just as a cinematic monster should, they’re plowing through everything in their path. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean they’ll be rewarded for doing so, even if it’s not their fault they have such a poor schedule anyway.
4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (3-0) (0-0) (Last: 4): Miami, just like their rivals up in Tallahassee, sleep-walked through this week — or as much as you can sleep walk through a 77-7 victory. They had a bit of an excuse after Stephen Morris‘s injury, but nonetheless, what’s been most alarming about the ‘Canes start (in a bad way), is the lack of play-making by its top offensive weapons. So long as Morris is back and healthy, we’ll get a real glimpse at what they’re capable of soon.
5. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-0) (2-0) (Last: 5): Tech’s got a leg-up on everyone else in the Coastal, possessing a sterling 2-0 record against divisional opponents. And at this point, they show no signs of slowing down. Last year’s biggest issue — the defense — is vastly improved under Ted Roof’s 4-3 scheme, and the offense is firing just fine with Vad Lee at the helm. At this point, the Wreck is a genuine contender for the division title, conference championship and maybe even more down the road.
6. Maryland Terrapins (4-0) (0-0) (Last: 6): Sure, Maryland’s played a weak schedule, but they’re 4-0 against those teams and have beaten them all in fairly dominant fashion. Saturday’s victory over West Virginia may have been the most impressive of all too, as the defense and special teams caused six turnovers en route to a shutout while the offense was simply average. Their first real test is two weeks from now against Florida State, when we really find out whether the Terps are a true contender or not.
7. Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) (0-0) (Last: 7): This defense can’t just carry Virginia Tech forever, and as we ended up seeing against Marshall, they do indeed have a breaking point. Logan Thomas might have been able to bail the team out this time around, but that can’t and won’t always be the case. It’s not as if he didn’t commit his own turnovers and errors to get them in that situation, either. They’ve been very lucky for the past two weeks. The real tests start this Thursday against Georgia Tech.
8. NC State Wolfpack (2-1) (0-1) (Last: 10): It’s still unclear what to make of NC State following last Thursday’s loss. There’s no guarantees they win that matchup had the call stood, but they certainly would’ve been in better shape to do so. It’s clear they have the playmakers to contend on both offense and defense at this point, though the quarterback position remains a major question mark with Pete Thomas under center. If Thomas can’t up his game (he still hasn’t throw an TD pass), perhaps the job is passed on to Bryant Shirreffs.
9. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-2) (0-1) (Last: 8): What is going on with this offense? What was supposed to be the strength of this North Carolina team has completely hit a roadblock, due in no specific part to any one player or position either. The offensive line can’t block like last year’s, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only reason for the scoring struggles. Bryn Renner‘s been far less accurate than year’s past, and the running game is a shadow of what it used to be. Obviously they can’t just replace the O-line, but they have to figure something out if they want to right this season in a hurry.
10. Boston College Eagles (2-1) (1-0) (Last: 11): Is Boston College ready for this Saturday’s matchup with Florida State? Based on their performance against USC, it’s not looking promising, but miracles can happen. The Eagles’ defense has been the highlight of their first three games, and based on the offense’s steps back game-by-game, that may need to be the case every single weekend.
11. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-1) (1-1) (Last: 12): Where did that offensive explosion versus Duke come from? The Blue Devils are obviously liable in their own right, but Pitt still went off in a huge way the other day and has possibly changed the outlook of the rest of their season. After getting smoked by FSU to start the year, things looked incredibly negative for the Panthers, and now that same team just got done putting up 58 points in a conference game — with the same player (Tom Savage) at quarterback. What will they do for an encore now?
12. Duke Blue Devils (2-2) (0-2) (Last: 9): This defense… They’re not the only culprits of last week’s 58-55 implosion, but it’s hard for any team to put up that many points on you without at least a few defensive lapses. On top of not being able to stop anyone on D, QB Brandon Connette has also turned himself into a turnover machine. It’s not to deride his excellent offensive effort (has has accounted for 12 TDs), but if they’re matched by mistakes, those scores often end up negated by game’s end.
13. Virginia Cavaliers (2-1) (0-0) (Last: 13): Virginia did what they were supposed to do versus VMI — win big. Most notably, they won using a long-dormant run game as their primary weapon, which is a huge relief for those wondering when the running backs, led by Kevin Parks, would return to a primary role in the offense. It’s not the best news that David Watford‘s still behind in terms of his development at QB, but if the Hoos can start running the ball well again, that can at least mask the fact until the passing game gets sorted out.
14. Syracuse Orange (2-2) (0-0) (Last: 14): Syracuse’s two big wins over lesser opponents have things looking up in Central New York, though they still have yet to be truly tested with Terrel Hunt at quarterback. The redshirt sophomore has shown himself to be a smart, explosive playmaker and a dual-threat as well. I’m not saying SU has much of a chance versus Clemson in a couple weeks (they don’t), but Hunt’s running ability could potentially give the Tigers fits for at least a little while. No matter what happens for the rest of the year, at least the Orange will be a very fun and dynamic team to watch over the final eight games.
15. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-2) (0-1) (Last: 15): Is this offense ever going to wake up? Because the defense can’t simply carry things forever. No Wake opponent has scored more than 24 points, yet Wake has also failed to top 20 points in two of their games (both losses), and their season high is just 31. Whether it’s Tanner Price throwing the ball, or Josh Harris running, the Deacon just need to determine what’s going to get the ball in the end zone. It’s been a mystery for at least 16 straight games now, and it has Wake Forest looking at yet another losing season.