Will Clemson be running away with the ACC this season?
In these, the first conference rankings, I list the ACC teams, one through 14, as if Pitt and Syracusewere already in the league. Yes, adding the additional teams may seem pointless now, but wait until they officially join. Then it’ll seem like old news and we can get past that initial awkwardness. No, I won’t reconsider. On to this week’s rankings!
1. Clemson Tigers (5-0) (2-0): The Tigers have already beaten the two teams everyone thought would be the class of the league this year (Florida State and Virginia Tech), so I think it should be obvious they occupy this spot. Also among Clemson’s victims this season include those “other” Tigers from Auburn, who won won a National Title last season (at least until the NCAA says otherwise) and the Sun Belt‘s likely champs, Troy. Also, just two ranked teams left on the schedule, so I like their chances to represent the ACC in the Orange Bowl.
2. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-0) (2-0): This team’s put up 45 or more points in four of their five contests thus far, and currently lead the nation in rushing yards per game (with a staggering 378.2!). While the defense has been mildly suspect, the ‘Wreck are 5-0 for the first time since the 1990, when they won it all as the last team to take home a national championship with a tie in their record. Like Clemson, just two ranked teams remain on the docket — though one of those are the Tigers on October 29.
3. Florida State Seminoles (2-2) (0-1): No, FSU is not rated this highly for its dominant victories over “powerhouses” Charleston Southern and UL-Monroe. Rather, it’s their two close losses to top-10 programs Clemson and Oklahoma that have the Seminoles looking a bit better than most 2-2 teams would at this juncture. Saturday’s game against Wake Forest should be a better barometer of what we’ll see from the team going forward.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies (4-1) (0-1): I won’t even deny it — I considered dropping the Hokies even further after Saturday’s listless effort against the Tigers. Admittedly, part of me has never dropped the grudge against VPI from their Big East days, but still — just a field goal at home?! For shame, Hokies. Good thing ECU‘s not joining the ACC anytime soon.
5. North Carolina Tar Heels (4-1) (1-1): Scandal aside, this is an immensely talented UNC squad that is tough to beat when they’re firing on all cylinders. On the minus side, turnovers have killed them at times as well, specifically during the Rutgers game, which should have never been close to begin with.
6. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-2) (0-0): The Panthers fail to play any ACC competition this season, so their conference record remains blank for 2011. If they were in the league this year, though? I’d bet they’d battle it out for fourth with UNC — especially if they perform anywhere near how they did against USF last Thursday. Ray Graham is an absolute terror. And I still say South Florida wins 8 or 9 games this season, just to further support how impressive a win Pitt had against them.
7. Syracuse Orange (3-2) (1-0): Cardiac ‘Cuse is trying to kill me this season. Five games. Three go into overtime. Another, against a FCS school, goes down to the wire. And I won’t even talk about Saturday’s horrendous effort against Rutgers. Say what you want about any and all of our tainted wins (injuring Wake’s QB to rally, the Toledo XP), but wins are wins and we face another potential one in Tulane this weekend.
8. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-1) (2-1): Their first real test will be against FSU this weekend, but if not for some real luck on the part of my alma mater in week one, the Demon Deacons could very well have been 4-0 right now with a 3*-0 conference record (obviously for our purposes here, SU is being counted as a conference game). While I don’t like their chances against the ‘Noles, I will say that when you can pass the ball like that (314 ypg), you’ll at least entertain.
9. Virginia Cavaliers (3-2) (0-1): This is where it gets a bit ugly/muddled for the ACC. Virginia’s resume includes an OT win over Idaho and a three-point victory over Indiana. So needless to say, some real work to be done here in terms of quality wins. Chances are the party won’t be starting against Georgia Tech this weekend, as the Cavs may get run right off the field to the tune of 50+ points scored by Tech.
10. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (2-2) (0-1): Should we give them a break for having so many suspended players for the first game against Maryland? But then what of the poor play when they were at full strength? Also, when discounting the value of the Ohio State win (really not a lot going on in Columbus this season), it’s tough to see this team as any more than a 7-5 squad (at absolute best).
11. Maryland Terrapins (2-2) (1-0): Maryland sits at #11 for several reasons. Besides the aforementioned win over a ravaged-by-suspensions Miami team, Maryland also got SMOKED by Temple two weeks ago. Plus, those uniforms are horrendous. For everyone’s sake, let’s leave those on the drawing board from now on.
12. Duke Blue Devils (3-2) (1-0): Normally, losing to a FCS squad would be an automatic trip to the basement of completely subjective, arbitrary rankings like these. Lucky for Duke, they’re the only school of the bottom three with wins over FBS schools, so they get the nod. It seems the Blue Devils are doing just enough right to get by thus far, but can they get three more wins out of that strategy? I simply don’t think so.
13. North Carolina State Wolfpack (2-3) (0-2): The Wolfpack got absolutely shelled by Cincinnati, a team that frankly, won’t win more than six games this season. On the other hand, they hung tight with both Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, so there’s potential. Still, with both victories over FCS schools, it’s tough to put them ahead of many teams.
14. Boston College Eagles (1-4) (0-2): Apologies in advance to Mike, who’ll surely have something to say about this later in the week, but BC has been terrible this year. Unfortunately for them, three more ranked opponents and a potentially hungry Notre Dame squad await them. Might as well put this one in the books already.