#GoACC Power Rankings: Week 6
Because you can’t spell “elite” without #GoACC, each week we will provide conference-wide football power rankings.
Popular culture has experienced a sensational week. Though “sensational” carries positive connotations in sports banter — you might hear Jon Gruden use the word five or six times in a sentence describing Peyton Manning — the word can technically describe anything characteristic of a sensation, any event or entity that fascinates large numbers of people and elicits strong responses. Between Lane Kiffin’s firing, Kanye West’s insane diatribe against Jimmy Kimmel, the “Breaking Bad” series finale and a government shutdown that blindsided many Americans like Demarcus Ware on a third-down blitz, a series of sports and non-sports related phenomena have enthralled the nation and prompted vigorous discussion.
This week’s developments in ACC football did not qualify as such a popular sensation. Such is life when you lag behind the big, bad SEC in exposure and when your nationally-televised showcase for the week — Virginia Tech’s victory against Georgia Tech — was about as exciting as a televised root canal. No cataclysmic upsets, bye weeks galore and a Virginia-Pittsburgh matchup that set offensive football back a few centuries? Not exactly how a conference catches the Twitterverse’s attention.
And week five only prolonged the pattern. Since Clemson edged Georgia and Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston dazzled the nation in Week 1, the ACC has produced no sensations of national magnitude. For those paying close enough attention, however, the conference is plenty fascinating. Aside from the triumvirate of teams at the top hanging around in the national title picture, storylines such as North Carolina’s shocking ineptitude, Maryland’s equally stunning excellence and the uncertainty which characterizes the glut of teams forming the conference’s middle ranks have morphed the ACC into compelling fodder for football junkies.
Starting this Saturday, when Florida State hosts Maryland and Miami welcomes Georgia Tech, the conference’s hierarchy will further materialize and the plot will likely only thicken. Peripheral to national attention at the moment, the drama of the ACC is nevertheless compiling a strong case for our attention.
My advice, then, is to start paying attention before the masses follow suit. National focus will swivel toward the Atlantic Coast only when Clemson hosts Florida State Oct. 19, but intrigue abounds in this conference before then. Don’t wait until you hear about it at the proverbial water cooler.
Without further ado, here are your #GoACC Power Rankings (change from last week in parentheses):
14. Wake Forest (no change)
Record: 2-3, 0-2 ACC
Last Week: L 56-7 at Clemson
This Week: vs. NC State
Star receiver and perpetual silver lining Michael Campanaro deserves far better than what this putrid Wake Forest team can offer him. Watching him is like seeing Daniel Day-Lewis on a soap opera.
13. Syracuse (no change)
Record: 2-2, 0-0 ACC
Last Week: Bye
This Week: vs. No. 3 Clemson
A sneakily feasible opportunity to stun Clemson awaits the Orange, who are coming off a bye, play in an obnoxious dome, and may have found a quarterback in Terrel Hunt while pasting Wagner and Tulane. After all, Hunt completed 31 of 39 passes for 446 yards and 7 touchdowns in the two blowouts and can expose a questionable Tiger defense. No, I’m not drunk!
12. North Carolina (down 6)
Record: 1-3, 0-1 ACC
Last Week: L 55-31 East Carolina
This Week: at Virginia Tech
I never thought North Carolina would beat Duke to the “Is it basketball season yet?” phase of the football season.
11. Duke (up 1)
Record: 3-2, 0-2 ACC
Last Week: W 38-31 vs. Troy
This Week: Bye
The time-space continuum might shatter Oct. 19, when Duke pits its papier-mache defense against a Virginia offense that might average fewer points in ACC-play than Vince Young scored on his Wonderlic test. What happens when an easily stoppable force meets a highly moveable object?
10. Boston College (up 1)
Record: 2-2, 1-1 ACC
Last Week: L 48-34 vs. Florida State
This Week: vs. Army
Props to Boston College for registering our first “Statement Blowout Loss” of the year! Despite a largely hapless defense, I still think the lethal Andre Williams and only occasionally terrible Chase Rettig can propel the Eagles to bowl eligibility, just as they spurred BC to a 17-3 first half lead against Florida State. This is all assuming the government shutdown has ended by this point and the game is actually played.
9. Virginia (down 2)
Record: 2-2, 0-1 ACC
Last Week: Do I have to?
This Week: vs. Ball State
I give Dominique Terrell props for coming to interview room to explain botched punt return. Character is something fans should be proud of.— Jim Daves (@JimDaves) September 29, 2013
Sports Information Director Jim Daves rightly commended wide receiver Dominique Terrell on Twitter for addressing the media after his calamitous performance Saturday. But when a guy explaining his game-altering mistakes in postgame interviews marks the highlight of your road trip, you probably had what we in the industry call a “Josh Freeman” sort of day as a football team.
8. NC State (no change)
Record: 3-1, 0-1 ACC
Last Week: W 48-14 vs. Central Michigan
This Week: at Wake Forest
After the narrow loss to Clemson and three wins against inferior opponents, NC State’s prospects for a decent bowl bid appear sweeter than you might initially think. A visit to Florida State represents the only unwinnable game on the Wolfpack’s schedule, which otherwise features Maryland, East Carolina and a slew of the ACC’s lesser teams.
7. Pittsburgh (up 3)
Record: 3-1, 2-1 ACC
Last Week: W 14-3 vs. Virginia
This Week: Bye
In true Pitt fashion, the Panthers have proven in these past two weeks that they can win in several different ways — a 58-55 shootout against Duke and last weekend’s atrocity — and still look pretty awful no matter what. With North Carolina continuing to disappoint and Georgia Tech a few weeks away from its inevitable annual swoon, Pittsburgh’s visit to Virginia Tech Oct. 12 could decide the Coastal’s second-best team. Amazingly.
6. Georgia Tech (down 2)
Record: 3-1, 2-1 ACC
Last Week: L 17-10 vs. Virginia Tech
This Week: at No. 14 Miami
Questions are starting to plague quarterback Vad Lee, whose 46.0 completion percentage, 3.1 yards per carry average and inability to discern the correct read on options hardly scream competence. Yet for all the concerns about the offense, Georgia Tech’s defense has exceeded expectations so far this season — ranking third in the conference by allowing just 275.5 yards per game and holding the fast-paced Duke and North Carolina offenses under 20 points.
5. Virginia Tech (up 4)
Record: 4-1, 1-0 ACC
Last Week: W 17-10 at Georgia Tech
This Week: vs. North Carolina
Rock solid win for the Hokies last week, Tech’s defense stood like a stone wall, et cetera, et cetera. As much as we enjoyed guffawing at Virginia Tech’s resemblance to a squadron of Geodudes from the neck-up Thursday night, that 17-10 road victory did present a sobering prospect for Cavaliers fans. With Jack Tyler anchoring a stout defense, the Hokies need nothing more than nondescript play from Logan Thomas for eight wins or even a puncher’s chance at the ACC title game.
4. No. 25 Maryland (up 1)
Record: 4-0, 0-0 ACC
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at No. 8 Florida State
Considering only maybe five or six teams in the country could beat this Florida State team on the road, Maryland’s sojourn into the top 25 will probably last a mere week. No matter how Saturday plays out, though, coach Randy Edsall has to remain among the front-runners for ACC Coach of the Year for molding an unheralded Terrapin roster into the explosive (498.5 yards per game), opportunistic (plus-five turnover ratio) squad that demolished West Virginia 37-0 two weeks ago. The Mountaineers, in turn, upended then-No. 11 Oklahoma State Saturday.
3. No. 14 Miami (no change)
Record: 4-0, 0-0 ACC
Last Week: W, 49-21 at South Florida
This Week: vs. Georgia Tech
Concerns about quarterback Stephen Morris’ ankle aside, a lingering question still dogs Miami’s season: when is the NCAA going to notify the Hurricanes of any additional sanctions, or lack thereof, stemming from the Nevin Shapiro scandal? My best guess is, instead of implementing postseason bans, Mark Emmert waited for Lane Kiffin to be fired so the NCAA could force Miami to hire him as the ultimate form of punishment.
2. No. 8 Florida State (no change)
Record: 4-0, 2-0 ACC
Last Result: W 48-34 at Boston College
This Week: vs. No. 25 Maryland
Given the success of Karlos Williams — the Seminoles’ dynamic safety-turned-running back averaging more than 9 yards a carry with 4 touchdowns — I reckon Virginia might as well play Eli Harold and Anthony Harris at quarterback and running back, or at least on the offensive line. I mean, at this point, why not?
1. No. 3 Clemson (no change)
Record: 2-0, 0-0 ACC
Last Week: W 56-7 vs. Wake Forest
This Week: at Syracuse
While Clemson was thumping Wake Forest Saturday afternoon, Georgia did something that enhanced the Tigers’ profile even more by beating another set of Tigers. By validating themselves as fringe national title contenders thanks to a 44-41 win against LSU, the Bulldogs rendered Clemson’s Week One win against them that much more impressive. Should Clemson be one of three undefeated BCS teams come early December, that victory will loom large in the eyes of voters.