Posted: 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013
Each week, the TNIAAM football staff will be ranking all 14 ACC teams in a completely subjective manner, just like everyone else on the internet. Feel like we're completely off base? Chime in with your own ACC power rankings below.
The ACC seems to be rounding into the league we always (since September 2011) hoped it would be, with four teams in the top 20 and three in the top 10 (could be four if you want to count Louisville, too). Clemson and Florida State are the center of the college football world this Saturday, as College Gameday heads to Death Valley to watch the No. 3- and No. 5-ranked teams face off with one another. The winning team gets a huge leg up in the ACC and National Championship race, and puts the conference one step closer to winning its first BCS title since 1999.
Interested in seeing the individual voter breakdown? Check out the Google Doc here!
1. Clemson Tigers (6-0) (3-0) (LW: 1)
Last Week: W, 24-14 over Boston College; Next Week: vs. Florida State
Highest Position: 1; Lowest Position: 1
Clemson was nearly caught sleep-walking at home against BC, but luckily a late surge fueled by Vic Beasley and the defense helped guide them to yet another victory. No, not everyone is of the mindset that you root for your conference rivals to do well, but the ACC needed both Clemson and FSU to be undefeated going into this Saturday's matchup. Mission accomplished, so now feel free to root against one of them in a few days.
2. Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (3-0) (LW: 2)
Last Week: BYE; Next Week: at Clemson
Highest Position: 2; Lowest Position: 3
Last year's Clemson-Florida State matchup saw College Gameday pay a visit to Tallahassee, so it's only fair Clemson gets the return trip this time around. For those unaware, ti's being billed as the biggest football game in ACC history and rightfully so. National championship hopes, Heisman hopes and the ACC's reputation are all on the line, and the energy and pressure will be palpable Memorial Stadium. Let's hope it lives up.
3. Miami Hurricanes (5-0) (1-0) (LW: 3)
Last Week: BYE; Next Week: at North Carolina
Highest Position: 2; Lowest Position: 3
Heading into the season, Thursday's matchup with UNC was supposed to decide the Coastal Division. Not so much anymore. But it's still imperative that Miami puts on an impressive performance if they want to continue their rise in the rankings. In the top 10 for the first time in years, they're now up against some incredible expectations along with their opponents on the field. There's also Stephen Morris's iffy ankle, which could threaten to derail things at any moment as well.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies (6-1) (3-0) (LW: 4)
Last Week: W, 19-9 over Pittsburgh; Next Week: BYE
Highest Position: 4; Lowest Position: 4
Sporting one of the nation's top defenses, Virginia Tech has looked more and more impressive as the season's wore on, putting the Alabama blowout to start the year well in the rearview mirror. They've still got a bit of a problem scoring points, but for the time being, the defense has picked up the slack just fine. On top of leading the nation in sacks (27 so far), the D is also tied for seventh in turnovers forced, with 16.
5. Maryland Terrapins (5-1) (1-1) (LW: 7)
Last Week: W, 27-26 over Virginia; Next Week: at Wake Forest
Highest Position: 5; Lowest Position: 8
Because "who else really belongs here?" After the fourth spot, the ACC's admittedly muddled, but after winning a game without their starting quarterback, I guess Maryland deserves to be fifth just as much as anyone else. The Terps' offense seemed to return to its high-powered ways with Caleb Rowe at the helm, though it's worth noting that the defense was also less-than-stellar. When you let up 505 yards to a UVa team that's the 86th-ranked offense in the country, it's at least a little troubling.
6. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-2) (2-2) (LW: 6)
Last Week: L, 19-9 to Virginia Tech; Next Week: vs. Old Dominion
Highest Position: 5; Lowest Position: 9
Don't let the score fool you. Pitt was never all that close to Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Panthers' offensive line allowed eight sacks to a tough Hokies front, and Tom Savage was terrorized for the entire afternoon. So once again, we still have no idea was Pitt is this season. Their three wins have come against unimpressive squads, while the two losses have been against some of the league's best. Next week's matchup with ODU won't help clear things up either.
7. Syracuse Orange (3-3) (1-1) (LW: 10)
Last Week: W, 24-10 over NC State; Next Week: at Georgia Tech
Highest Position: 7; Lowest Position: 9
Syracuse moving up this week is equally due to the overwhelming win over NC State and the overall uncertainty in the middle of the conference. While we'd all like to jump at the chance to say things have turned around for SU, there are still plenty of questions around this passing game and a questionable secondary. The Orange stand a pretty good chance to make a bowl, but they need to sort out these issues so the D-line and running game don't have to carry the team as much.
8. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-3) (2-2) (LW: 5)
Last Week: L, 38-20 to BYU; Next Week: vs. Syracuse
Highest Position: 6; Lowest Position: 12
Tech's lost three straight games and this team is about to hit the panic button. Sure, those losses have been to Miami, Virginia Tech and BYU, so not embarrassing by any means, but time is starting to run out for a turnaround. Lately, the offense has become stagnant as QB Vad Lee's hot start has cooled down and passing has once again become an afterthought for this team. If Georgia Tech loses to SU on Saturday, it's going to be very tough for them to play in the postseason this December.
9. Boston College Eagles (3-3) (1-2) (LW: 8)
Last Week: L, 24-14 to Clemson; Next Week: BYE
Highest Position: 7; Lowest Position: 9
It's blasphemy around these parts (rightfully so), but the Eagles haven't looked all that bad this season. BC almost caught Clemson off-guard last week and if not for some Jameis Winston heroics a few weeks ago, perhaps they could've knocked off FSU as well. This is a dangerous team when the running game gets going, and while this year's squad may finish around .500 or so, it's obvious that Steve Addazio's rebuilding job is working extremely well just six games in.
10. Duke Blue Devils (4-2) (0-2) (LW: 12)
Last Week: W, 35-7 over Navy; Next Week: at Virginia
Highest Position: 6; Lowest Position: 10
A surprising return by Anthony Boone last week resulted in a surprisingly dominant victory for Duke after struggling for the past few games. Las Vegas only saw the line on this one at -3 for Duke, but behind Boone's strong passing (295 yards, 3 TD) and a resurgent defense, they simply ran right through the Midshipmen. No one's sold on the Blue Devils just yet, though at this point, they're just two wins away from their second straight trip to a bowl.
11. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-3) (1-2) (LW: 14)
Last Week: BYE; Next Week: vs. Maryland
Highest Position: 10; Lowest Position: 14
Another team with question marks. The Deacs can't score, but for the most part, have been able to stop opposing teams. Tanner Price goes from throwing for 300 yards in one game to 100 in another. After beating NC State, things were looking up, and now we don't know what to think of the Wolfpack either. Regardless, still doesn't change the fact that the looming early November date at the Carrier Dome could end up being a must-win for both Wake and the Orange as well.
12. NC State Wolfpack (3-3) (0-3) (LW: 9)
Last Week: L, 24-10 to Syracuse; Next Week: BYE
Highest Position: 11; Lowest Position: 13
Not all 3-3 records are created equal, and that goes double for NC State, who's in a 0-3 hole in the ACC and coupled with a stale, injury-riddled offense. Syracuse's defense completely shut down the Pack just a week after getting throttled by Clemson, and the quarterback position seems to get worse by the day. When Brandon Mitchell comes back to replace Pete Thomas (and he certainly will), there will be an immediate demand for him to fix things immediately, with no guarantee he can do so.
13. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-4) (0-2) (LW: 14)
Last Week: BYE; Next Week: Miami
Highest Position: 12; Lowest Position: 14
A bye week might've been exactly what UNC needed after an incredibly rough start to the season. Of course, they're jumping right back into the fire against Miami, so things could very easily right back to terrible. In their matchup against the 'Canes, look for the running game to get going and the pass rush to regain its former proficiency. If they can't, the Heels are toast and perhaps even Larry Fedora's job gets questioned a bit, too.
Last Week: L, 27-26 to Maryland; Next Week: vs. Duke
Highest Position: 11; Lowest Position: 14
Beating longtime rival Maryland on their way out to the Big Ten would've been a nice pelt for UVa to put on the wall, but they simply couldn't get it done late against the Terps. Now they're 2-4 and like several (read: most) teams in the ACC, this is make-or-break time for Virginia. The Hoos' schedule is absolutely stacked going forward, with just one losing team left on the slate. A team that score just 22 points per game is simply not going to cut it the rest of the way.