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#GoACC Power Rankings: Week 9

I’ll keep the opening short this week by letting a Virginia Tech beat writer describe the #GoACC season so far in a tweet.

1. No. 2 Florida State (no change)

Record: 7-0, 4-0 ACC

Last Week: 31-27 W vs. No. 5 Notre Dame

This Week: Bye

In its most tightly contested game since beating Clemson in overtime sans Jameis Winston, Florida State saw its perfect season ruined in the final moments of the game, only to be resurrected by an angelic offensive pass interference flag sent from the college football gods.

On fourth and two, Notre Dame scored what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left, which was then waved off, putting the Irish in a fourth-and-17 situation. Though many dubbed the call controversial, and Irish coach Brian Kelly ripped the #GoACC officials after the game, it appears below (about 30 seconds in) to be a good call by the referees.

And the #GoACC’s chances at the College Football Playoff live on through the Seminoles, who must be happy to have a bye week after all of that excitement.

2. No. 21 Clemson (no change)

Record: 5-2, 4-1 ACC

Last Week: 17-13 W @ Boston College

This Week: vs. Syracuse

After Boston College took a 13-10 fourth quarter lead, Clemson quickly responded in the form of a 32-yard C.J. Davidson touchdown run. Though battered and bruised, the Tigers willed themselves to victory again.

Without freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is likely to be out for at least the next two games, the last thing Clemson needed was more injuries. But the Tigers got just that Saturday, when leading running back Adam Choice suffered a season-ending torn knee ligament. With senior quarterback Cole Stoudt playing through a sprained shoulder, it’s a wonder Boston College couldn’t manage to steal this game at home.

The good news? Clemson plays Syracuse next week at home, so the offense will likely get a win just by starting its scout team.

3. Duke (up 1)

Record: 6-1, 2-1 ACC

Last Week: 20-13 W vs. Virginia

This Week: Bye

Last week I said senior quarterback Anthony Boone would have to minimize the ball for Duke to beat Virginia. Well, Boone and his team did just that, as Virginia’s defense finished Saturday without a single turnover for just the second game this year. The Blue Devil offensive line was terrific in pass protection — their receivers always seemed to be open, and Boone’s quick release combined to stymie a Cavalier defense that was one of the nation’s best in both takeaways and sacks.

The real kicker, though, was backup quarterback Thomas Sirk, who beat Virginia by faking a quarterback draw from the three-yard line and then breaking out Timothy Richard Tebow’s patented jump-pass for the go-ahead touchdown. Most weeks I would say getting beat by a backup quarterback channeling his inner Tebow is about as #GoACC as it can get. But wait…

4. Virginia (down 1)

Record: 4-3, 2-1 ACC

Last Week: 20-13 L @ Duke

This Week: vs. North Carolina

Virginia may have taken the #GoACC cake this week on its opening drive of the year, when senior Miles Gooch fumbled the ball and fellow senior Darius Jennings scooped up the fumble and ran, only to drop the ball without being touched — a fumble Duke promptly fell on.

Not only did Virginia’s defense fail to record a takeaway or a sack — all credit to Duke’s offense — but Virginia receivers were dropping passes like it was 2013 all over again. Matt Johns did miss a few wide-open receivers downfield which could have changed the game, but I question Steve Fairchild for having Johns, who has started three games now, throw the ball 45 times while Kevin Parks, Taquan Mizzell and Khalek Shepherd were each gashing the Blue Devil defense for around five yards per rush.

Now, Virginia will host Carolina for Homecomings in the South’s Oldest Rivalry, a team it hasn’t come within a single score of since 2009. The Cavalier defense will have to turn in a better performance this Saturday, with the Tar Heels putting up close to 40 points per game.

5. Louisville (up 1)

Record: 6-2, 4-2 ACC

Last Week: 30-18 W vs. NC State

This Week: Bye

Ah, Louisville, possibly college football’s last best hopes to knock off Famous Jameis and his band of Seminoles. With former Auburn star running back Michael Dyer rushing for 173 yards last week against NC State and Will Gardner back under center full-time for the Cardinals, Louisville might just have what it takes to best the ACC’s best next Thursday night. But to pull the upset, Gardner must protect the ball like he did against NC State. When he is loose with the ball — see Virginia game — it derails an otherwise talented team.

6. Pittsburgh (up 2)

Record: 4-3, 2-1 ACC

Last Week: 21-16 W vs. Virginia Tech

This Week: vs. Georgia Tech

Chad Voytik did it all for the Panthers against Virginia Tech, leading the team in both passing and rushing — the latter a very significant feat when your backfield features James Conner — as well as catching his first pass since middle school from star receiver Tyler Boyd. Voytik carried the ball 19 times for 118 yards, which may say more about Tech’s defense than Voytik’s running ability. Pitt now hosts Georgia Tech at Heinz Field, where the team could deliver a fatal shot to the Ramblin’ Wreck and significantly bolster its own case for the ACC Coastal crown.

7. Georgia Tech (down 2)

Record: 5-2, 2-2 ACC

Last Week: 48-43 L @ North Carolina

This Week: @ Pittsburgh

Though I’m not completely giving up on Georgia Tech yet — I learned my lesson by almost writing off North Carolina earlier this year — the Ramblin’ Wreck has truly been a wreck the past two games, losing to both Duke and North Carolina. Just as Georgia Tech eked out late-game wins against Georgia Southern and Virginia Tech earlier in the year, the Tar Heels scored a touchdown with 11 seconds left to dispatch the Jackets after driving the ball 75 yards downfield in less than three minutes.

With Pittsburgh, Virginia, NC State, Clemson and Georgia still on the schedule, the Yellow Jackets need to stop the bleeding now and pick up some late-season momentum, or else watch their ACC Coastal title hopes and possibly even their bowl hopes buzz off.

8. Virginia Tech (down 1)

Record: 4-3, 1-2 ACC

Last Week: 21-16 L @ Pittsburgh

This Week: vs. Miami

Fresh off a Thursday night loss to Pittsburgh at Heinz Field that included a 26-yard rushing performance — and in fairness, Tech is missing its top three running backs to injury — the Hokies return to Thursday night once more to take on “The U” at Lane Stadium. This is a can’t-miss game, if the year was still 2002. Another loss will likely be the deathblow to either team’s Coastal Division title hopes, and it’s almost sad to consider how far these storied programs have fallen in the last decade.

Almost as sad as this blog post by newly-hired Virginia Tech basketball coach, Buzz Williams:

Interesting side note, redirects to Virginia men’s basketball’s homepage. Now that’s #GoACC.

9. North Carolina (up 2)

Record: 3-4, 1-2 ACC

Last Week: 48-43 W vs. Georgia Tech

This Week: @ Virginia

Forfeiting 43 points, North Carolina’s defense continued to prove it has more holes in it than Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith’s respective heads combined. The Heels give up 43.3 points per game — 127th out of 128 FBS teams — and might give up fewer points if they hires these moms to hold a banner up against opposing offenses:

But with an offense led by dynamic junior quarterback Marquise Williams which can put up just as many points as the defense gives up, the Tar Heels have looked very competitive the last few weeks, while fighting for their ACC Coastal lives.

10. Boston College (no change)

Record: 4-3, 1-2 ACC

Last Week: 17-13 L @ No. 24 Clemson

This Week: @ Wake Forest

While many pundits are claiming last week was a valiant effort against Clemson, I view it as a blown opportunity for Boston College. The Eagles faced a Tigers team that was starting its backup quarterback, who was also playing through a sprained shoulder. And it was not even a minute and a half after taking the lead in the fourth quarter before the defense handed the lead back to Clemson. Clemson’s play was gutsy, but this was Boston College’s chance to poach a win from a weakened Tigers team and the Eagles failed to rise to the occasion.

11. Miami (down 2)

Record: 4-3, 1-2 ACC

Last Week: Bye

This Week: @ Virginia Tech

Miami is still a big question mark in the ACC after beating Duke and then losing to Georgia Tech. I still don’t have confidence in freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya — who has thrown nine picks already this season — particularly against a Bud Foster defense that features a Fuller brother lurking in the secondary.

But Kaaya has ample ground support, with junior running back Duke Johnson well on his way to his first career 1,000-yard season, and the freshman has shown against both Duke and Cincinnati that he can win games when he doesn’t turn the ball over two or three times per contest.

12. Syracuse (up 1)

Record: 3-4, 1-2 ACC

Last Week: 30-7 W @ Wake Forest

This Week: @ No. 21 Clemson

Even without starting quarterback Terrel Hunt, the Orange managed to get it done against Wake Forest last week — a feat that just does not sound impressive when you read it out loud. Still, Syracuse notched its first ACC win and freshman quarterback A.J. Long got his first start under his belt before traveling to Death Valley this weekend to face another orange-colored team with similar quarterback injury issues.

13. North Carolina State (down 1)

Record: 4-4, 0-4 ACC

Last Week: 30-18 L @ Louisville

This Week: Bye

Make that 0-12 in the ACC under coach Dave Doeren after last week’s loss at Louisville. After going winless in the conference last year, the Wolfpack will have to wait two more weeks before trying their paws against Syracuse. ESPN still has the Pack pegged to go to the BITCOIN St. Petersburg Bowl, which is really just a sad commentary on the number of bowl games there are these days.

14. Wake Forest (no change)

Record: 2-5, 0-3 ACC

Last Week: 30-7 L vs. Syracuse

This Week: vs. Boston College

I apologize for terming Wake Forest’s matchup against Syracuse a “winnable” game for the Demon Deacons. They very well could be this year’s Virginia, a 2-10 record and winless in the ACC Coastal — I shudder at that memory.

Wake’s offense — which ranks 126th in scoring at 14.4 points per game — was on the field for more touchdowns than usual last Saturday. Unfortunately, two of the three were Syracuse defensive touchdowns. Against a mediocre team without its starting quarterback, you can’t afford to give up easy points like that. Even worse for the Deacs? Boston College has its starting quarterback this week, and he’s third in the ACC in total rushing yards, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. He can also throw the ball a little bit, too.

15. No. 7 Notre Dame (no change)

Record: 6-1

Last Week: 31-27 L @ No. 2 Florida State

This Week: Bye

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