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#GoACC Power Rankings: Week 7

I’d like to start this week by apologizing for a dearth of #GoACC coverage last week, I had a few prior commitments and I hope nobody’s week was not too negatively affected. That being said, it’s great to be back and let’s get on to the rankings:

1. No. 1 Florida State (no change)

Record: 5-0, 3-0 ACC

Last Week: 43-3 W vs. Wake Forest

This Week: @ Syracuse

In a contest ESPN broadcaster Cassidy Hubbarth termed “down to the wire” — does anyone know if the Worldwide Leader is hiring? — the champs rolled by Wake Forest, to nobody’s surprise.

Jameis Winston hasn’t looked spectacular so far, already tossing five interceptions compared to just eight touchdowns through five games — the Heisman Trophy winner threw 40 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions all of last year. Still, Jaboo has another week of mediocre ACC competition before Florida State faces its toughest test of the season, when Notre Dame heads down to Tallahassee.

2. Clemson (no change)

Record: 3-2, 2-1 ACC

Last Week: 41-0 W vs. NC State

This Week: vs. Louisville

After starting in place of senior quarterback Cole Stoudt against the Tar Heels last week and throwing a school-record six touchdown passes, true freshman Deshaun Watson threw for two touchdowns and ran for an additional two Saturday against the Wolfpack.

Yes, North Carolina and NC State aren’t exactly ACC powerhouses, but Watson’s first two starts under center have already drawn comparisons to Jameis Winston. Who knows, if Watson had developed just a few games earlier, maybe he would’ve even beaten the Winston-less Seminoles. But seeing as it’s Clemson, the Tigers still would’ve found a way to Clemson the game away.

3. No. 22 Georgia Tech (up 6)

Record: 5-0, 2-0 ACC

Last Week: 28-17 W vs. Miami

This Week: vs. Duke

What’s more impressive than the Ramblin’ Wreck beating the ‘Canes for the first time in six years — because wins against Miami aren’t exactly impossible to come by this year — was that the Yellow Jackets did it by throwing the ball just seven times. Georgia Tech ran the ball 65 times Saturday, 16 more times than the team’s average carries per game entering the contest. It’s slightly baffling to me that such an unbalanced approach works in college football, but then again, we’re talking about the ACC here.

And I can’t say I condone students rushing the field after beating a 3-2 Miami team, but who am I to tell students what wins they can and can’t enjoy.

4. Virginia (up 1)

Record: 4-2, 3-0 ACC

Last Week: 24-19 W vs. Pittsburgh

This Week: Bye

Whiteout or not, Virginia students turned out in force for the first game under the Scott Stadium lights in two years. After another magnificent first half on both sides of the ball, the Cavaliers allowed the Panthers to claw their way back into contention, but ultimately notched their fourth win of the year behind a career night from Kevin Parks.

With Duke, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech still on the schedule, the Hoos might very well — no guarantees, I will not take the blame for any potential jinx — go bowling for the first time in three years this season.

5. Louisville (down 1)

Record: 5-1, 3-1 ACC

Last Week: 28-6 W @ Syracuse

This Week: @ Clemson

Freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon performed admirably against Syracuse in the second-straight week he was called upon to start in place of an injured Will Gardner. It also doesn’t hurt to have a running back like Brandon Radcliff step up with consecutive 100-yard games to take a large burden off of the quarterback after two subpar rushing performances from Cardinal backs.

Now the team travels to Clemson, and it will be interesting to see if Bobby Petrino returns to his more experienced starter, Gardner, coming off an ankle injury, or sticks with the true freshman quarterback against the Tigers with games versus Florida State and Notre Dame still on the schedule.

6. Virginia Tech (up 1)

Record: 4-2, 1-1 ACC

Last Week: 34-17 W @ North Carolina

This Week: vs. Bye

This game was much closer than the final score indicated, with the Tarheels driving toward the end of the first half, down 17-3. The lone Fuller left in Blacksburg, sophomore cornerback Kendall had other designs though, jumping a route to snag a Marquise Williams pass and take it to the house. Fuller’s play took away all of the momentum North Carolina had struggled to build up after fumbling the game’s opening snap, which the Hokies converted for a touchdown as well.

Now Virginia Tech has a week off before two consecutive Thursday night games at Pittsburgh and home against Miami — two games that could decidedly shape the ACC Coastal race.

7. Duke (down 4)

Record: 4-1, 0-1 ACC

Last Week: Bye

This Week: @ No. 22 Georgia Tech

The Blue Devils were off last week, but are about to play two of their three most difficult remaining games in the next two weeks. In their last game, the team’s first loss of the season against Miami, senior quarterback Anthony Boone looked like he and true freshman Brad Kaaya of Miami traded places. Kaaya threw two touchdowns and completed his first game without an interception, while Boone completed just 43 percent of his passes and tossed two picks.

Along with senior receiver Jamison Crowder, Boone needs to step up and take charge of a passing game which was supposed to be one of the team’s biggest strengths this year. Scoring 10 points against Miami’s defense just won’t cut it, especially in a Power 5 Conference.

8. Pittsburgh (down 2)

Record: 3-3, 1-1 ACC

Last Week: 24-19 L @ Virginia

This Week: Bye

Most people understood the Panthers were a relatively one-dimensional offense, riding James Conner as long as he could carry them. Averaging 158 yards per game entering the night, Conner was held to just 83 yards by the Virginia defense, clearly demonstrating that quarterback Chad Voytik could not shoulder the load when an opposing defense limits Conner’s effectiveness.

9. Miami (up 1)

Record: 3-3, 1-2 ACC

Last Week: 28-17 L @ Georgia Tech

This Week: vs. Cincinnati

Rough times in Coral Gables. Duke Johnson breaks 100 yards for just the second time this season, but freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya goes back to his interception-throwing ways and the defense gives up 318 yards on the ground after holding Duke to just 264 total yards the week before. To top it off, tickets for this weekend’s game against Cincinnati could be found as cheap as 88 cents as of Sunday:

10. Boston College (down 2)

Record: 3-2, 0-1 ACC

Last Week: Bye

This Week: @ NC State

After beating Southern California, the Eagles looked like they might surprise some people around the ACC. Well, they sure surprised me by turning around and losing to Colorado State two weeks later. With three wins already and three winnable games left in NC State, Wake Forest and Syracuse, Boston College could still make it to a bowl game, but the margin for error is razor-thin.

The Eagles will now play five straight weeks without a bye, a stretch which includes Clemson, Virginia Tech and Louisville. I hope they got their rest in this last week, because they’ll need it.

11. North Carolina State (up 2)

Record: 4-2, 0-2 ACC

Last Week: 41-0 L @ Clemson

This Week: vs. Boston College

The good news for the Wolfpack is that after playing Florida State close and getting obliterated by Clemson, the rest of their opponents should look much less intimidating while they run through the Pack. But in reality, with Boston College, Syracuse, Wake Forest and North Carolina still on the schedule, NC State could finish the season as one of the worst 8-4 teams I’ve ever seen. #GoACC

12. Syracuse (no change)

Record: 2-3, 0-1 ACC

Last Week: 28-6 L vs. Louisville

This Week: vs. No. 1 Florida State

Things are going to get worse for ‘Cuse before they get better. The Orange host Florida State this weekend and after the Seminoles-Wolfpack game I’ll admit they have a chance, though that chance would seem extremely slim after their last three double-digit losses to Maryland, Notre Dame and Louisville. At least Nike gave them some flashy new uniforms this year so the team can look good as the school’s fans desperately await basketball season.

13. North Carolina (down 2)

Record: 2-3, 0-2 ACC

Last Week: 34-17 L vs. Virginia Tech

This Week: @ No. 6 Notre Dame

Things keep getting worse for the Tar Heels. Carolina shot themselves in the proverbial Tarheel, tallying three turnovers at the most inopportune times: fumbling the opening snap, an interception right before halftime while driving and a fumbled punt return at their own 10, down 10 points with three-and-a-half minutes left in the game. All three turnovers eventually led to Hokie touchdowns.

Though this makes me very optimistic for when the Tar Heel offense visits Charlottesville in three weeks, I have to imagine the team’s own fans can’t feel too good about heading to South Bend this weekend to face Notre Dame.

14. Wake Forest (no change)

Record: 2-4, 0-2 ACC

Last Week: 43-3 L @ No. 1 Florida State

This Week: vs. Syracuse

If Florida State “struggled” against the Demon Deacons last Saturday, as Sportscenter suggested at one point, I’d hate to see what the ‘Noles would’ve done to Wake Forest on a good or even an average day. This is one of the only scenarios in which I encourage looking to European sports models, as I really think relegating Wake Forest to an FCS conference for a few years might boost the level of competition within the ACC.

15. No. 6 Notre Dame (no change)

Record: 5-0

Last Week: 17-14 W vs. No. 14 Stanford

This Week: vs. North Carolina

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