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#GoACC Power Rankings: Week 5

Another #GoACC week is in the books, and it’s great to see Clemson returning to top form by blowing a potential upset against Florida State in true Clemson fashion. In regards to the rest of the league, it’s getting really hard to find space to fit the bottom five or six teams — I’m considering just consolidating all of their mediocrity into one last place ranking and to make more room for the league’s more competent (less embarrassing) members.

1. No. 1 Florida State (no change)

Record: 3-0, 1-0 ACC

Last Week: 23-17 W (OT) vs. No. 22 Clemson

This Week: @ NC State

With Jameis Winston suspended the entire game, it looked as if Clemson might deal the ‘Noles their first loss since 2012. But as Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast!” Florida State was playing Clemson, and Clemson was bound to Clemson the game away when it mattered most.

Just two plays after picking off Florida State backup quarterback Sean Maguire, the Tigers managed to turn the ball over inside the Seminoles’ red zone with the game tied, eventually falling in overtime. Despite Jameis’ shellfish actions,* the ‘Noles pulled it out and continue on their so-far shaky march to repeat as national champions.

*Disclaimer: I can’t take credit for the Jameis crab pun, I saw it on a College Gameday sign.

2. Clemson (no change)

Record: 1-2, 0-1 ACC

Last Week: 23-17 L (OT) @ No. 1 Florida State

This Week: vs. North Carolina

This was your shot, Clemson!

You win this game, you virtually have the ACC locked up if you can get by Louisville. But Clemson fans, rest easy — at least now you know your College Football Playoff dreams are most likely dead and you no longer have to live in constant fear of your team imploding in crunch time and ruining your season.

Also, how do you like that two-quarterback system? Proceed with great caution; you may be on on a slippery slope to gradually transforming into the mess that was the 2012 Virginia offense.

3. Duke (no change)

Record: 4-0, 0-0 ACC

Last Week: 47-13 W vs. Tulane

This Week: @ Miami

Finally, Duke begins ACC play. Now we’ll really get to see how the Blue Devils perform against (semi-)competent opponents, rather than a bunch of teams that let them hang 40 points every game.

I’m sorry, did I say semi-competent? I guess I forgot they open their conference schedule with Miami. It might be another week or two before Duke plays a team that will actually give them a game. Until then, I’ll be patiently waiting to see if the Devils are for real.

4. Louisville (no change)

Record: 3-1, 1-1 ACC

Last Week: 34-3 W @ Florida International

This Week: vs. Wake Forest

Another week, another pair of Will Gardner fumbles. It didn’t hurt the Cardinals this week as they cruised past Florida International, but Gardner is now responsible for five of his team’s six lost fumbles on the season, in addition to two interceptions.

The sophomore quarterback looks like Don Billingsley from Friday Night Lights, but without Tim McGraw to play his football-obsessed father and duck tape the ball to his hands so he can finally hold onto it. In all fairness to Gardner, his offensive line hasn’t been doing him any favors, but leadership starts under center and he needs to limit the turnovers if his team is going to achieve anything close to its potential this season.

5. Virginia (no change)

Record: 2-2, 1-0 ACC

Last Week: 41-33 L @ No. 21 Brigham Young

This Week: vs. Kent State

By beating Virginia, Brigham Young took another important step in its quest to run the table and maybe make some noise in the College Football Playoff debate. For Virginia’s part, the team played hard in a very tough environment, with the offense looking better than I’ve seen it look since at least 2011. Both quarterbacks Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns looked skillful and even daring at times — an adjective usually not used to describe the Cavalier offense.

But the real story was junior placekicker Ian Frye, whose father had a heart attack in the first half of the game and was taken to a Provo area hospital. Frye, who found out near halftime, remained at the game and drilled a 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to keep his team within one score. He was 4-for-4 on the day.

6. Pittsburgh (up 1)

Record: 3-1, 1-0 ACC

Last Week: 24-20 L vs. Iowa

This Week: vs. Akron

Again, James Conner — the FBS leader in rushing yards (699) and rushing touchdowns (9) — carried Pitt against the Hawkeyes, racking up 155 yards and a touchdown, but sophomore quarterback Chad Voytik was unable to put the ball in the endzone through the air, despite throwing for 250 yards.

Voytik ended the game with an interception in Iowa territory, though the Panthers began the drive with 25 seconds to go 80 yards, so the comeback attempt was highly unlikely from the get-go. I have to believe that moving forward, Voytik and his receivers will need to develop into greater scoring threats to take some of the pressure off of Conners.

7. Virginia Tech (down 1)

Record: 2-2, 0-1 ACC

Last Week: 27-24 L vs. Georgia Tech

This Week: vs. Western Michigan

Lane Stadium ain’t what it used to be. Always touted as one of the toughest places to play in college football, that fact seems to ring true today, but in regards to the Hokies. The team lost its second consecutive game at home, this week to a Georgia Tech team that barely slipped by Southern Georgia a week prior.

For all the accolades bestowed upon junior transfer quarterback Michael Brewer after wins against William & Mary and Ohio State, Hokie fans might be starting to wonder if he’s really their man. Brewer tossed three interceptions and zero touchdowns Saturday, despite throwing for almost 300 yards. Virginia Tech, a program with a recent history of producing NFL-caliber running backs, also didn’t have a player rush for more than 51 yards against Georgia Tech. Odd times in Blacksburg.

8. Boston College (up 2)

Record: 3-1, 0-1 ACC

Last Week: 40-10 W vs. Maine

This Week: vs. Colorado State

After a shocking upset of Southern California, the Eagles ran for more than 400 yards for the second consecutive game as they flew by Maine. Boston College remains an enigma in the conference, capable of upsetting the Trojans and possessing a high-powered running attack, but then losing to Pitt by two scores and gaining 276 yards on offense.

9. Georgia Tech (up 2)

Record: 4-0, 1-0 ACC

Last Week: 27-24 W @ Virginia Tech

This Week: vs. Miami

I haven’t completely bought into the Ramblin’ Wreck yet. I thought about moving them higher up in these rankings, but last-minute wins against Georgia Southern and Virginia Tech don’t have me convinced that the Yellow Jackets are a force to be reckoned with in the ACC.

10. Miami (down 2)

Record: 2-2, 0-1 ACC

Last Week: 41-31 L @ No. 24 Nebraska

This Week: vs. Duke

How bad have times gotten for Miami? The once fabled program just lost a top-200 recruit who had committed in early August in four-star tight end Bowman Archibald. That’s understandable if say a bigger program — or an SEC program — came after him. But the kicker? The Hurricanes lost their man to Wake Forest. WAKE FOREST.

The good news — “good” used loosely here — is that the ‘Canes hung around with the Cornhuskers last weekend in Lincoln, with freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya and junior running back Duke Johnson putting up some hefty numbers on the offensive end, minus two interceptions for Kaaya.

11. North Carolina (down 2)

Record: 2-1, 0-0 ACC

Last Week: 70-41 L @ East Carolina

This Week: @ Clemson

Sheeeeeeeeesh, where to even begin on this one? The Tar Heels played East Carolina close for about 20 minutes, then all hell broke loose. There’s no doubt seniors Shane Carden and Breon Allen are big-time playmakers for the Pirates, but to lose to an in-state team that you’ve historically dominated, 70-41? Your defense needs to show a little more pride than that.

East Carolina is on the rise in the state, and you can bet in-state recruits were watching this game with interest. The Pirates just jumped to the American Athletic Conference this year and though it isn’t a Power 5 Conference, it is a large improvement from Conference USA. North Carolina appears to be headed for big trouble; with a win at Duke unlikely and the Wolfpack looking like they might not be complete pushovers, the Heels might go 0-3 versus teams from their home state.

12. Syracuse (no change)

Record: 2-1, 0-0 ACC

Last Week: 34-20 L vs. Maryland

This Week: vs. No. 8 Notre Dame

Syracuse was the ACC’s only chance at beating conference-deserter Maryland in football this year, and they, too, blew it. It’s scary to think what will happen to the Orange when they play the Irish this week if they lost to Maryland by a pair of touchdowns. Syracuse should call in sick and see if they could play Notre Dame in basketball instead, where the team might stand a fighting chance. It’s too bad, because the Orange were off to such a hot start with wins against Villanova and Central Michigan.

13. NC State (no change)

Record: 4-0, 0-0 ACC

Last Week: 42-0 W vs. Presbyterian

This Week: vs. No. 1 Florida State

Ah, two undefeated powerhouses of the ACC will finally meet this week when Florida State travels to Raleigh. The winner of this game will likely win the ACC Atlantic, and I say that with confidence because there is no chance N.C. State wins this game. I will wear a wolf snout to all of my classes Monday if that happens by some divine miracle.

It’s going to be a rough couple of weeks for the Wolfpack with the Seminoles, Clemson, Boston College and Louisville all back-to-back, but once they get through that, they’ll still only need a maximum of two wins for bowl eligibility with Syracuse, Wake Forest and North Carolina remaining on the schedule. I don’t hate those odds if I’m an N.C. State fan.

14. Wake Forest (no change)

Record: 2-2, 0-0 ACC

Last Week: 24-21 W vs. Army

This Week: @ Louisville

As I mentioned earlier, Wake Forest did steal a top recruit from Miami, and they notched a win — which will likely be hard to come by from here on out — so this was a pretty good week for the Deacs. Unfortunately, now they start ACC play, so this upcoming week will probably not be so good. But hey, if Virginia can beat Louisville, I suppose anything is possible.

15. No. 8 Notre Dame (no change)

Record: 3-0

Last Week: Bye

This Week: vs. Syracuse

Notre Dame will remain in last place on this list until the Irish just join the conference already. Ball’s in your court, Swarbrick.