Another week, a little more clarity achieved.
That means it's getting easier to seperate the top from the bottom in the ACC (e.g. Clemson-Wake). But does that make it easier to sort out teams within their groupings?
No, no it does not. You need a trained professional to do that.
Kids, don't try this at home. At least not without parental supervision.
NO. 1 CLEMSON
If the Tigers' somewhat sluggish offensive performance against N.C. State had you worried, it didn't take long for Clemson to allay your fears last Saturday. The totalsfrom the Tigers' first three drives against Wake: 16 plays, 225 yards, 21 points, 4:39 time of possession. Yep, that'll work.
Also doing work? Clemson's D. It's allowed 10.5 ppg in Clemson's two ACC contests. And the 35 points the Tigers yielded to Georgia looks downright stingy in retrospect.
Record: 4-0, 2-0 ACC
Previous Rank: 1
Last week: Won 56-7 over Wake Forest.
This week: Saturday, 3:30 at Syracuse
NO. 2 FLORIDA STATE
FSU's undefeated, but the Seminoles have not exactly shown an ability to come out of the gate fast. Superior talent allowed FSU to overcome slow starts at Pitt and at BC, but the next opponent, Maryland, has a much tougher D than the Seminoles' first two ACC opponents, and more offensive firepower than the Eagles, who still put up 34 on FSU.
So am I predicting trouble for FSU? No, not really. This one's at home, while the other two were on the road. And I suspect that playing a ranked opponent will be all the Seminoles need to capture their attention early.
Also, Jameis Winston was brilliant again - 334 yards passing, 4 TDs, 74 yards rushing. Will this be the first game in which he starts to look ... mortal?
Record: 4-0 overall, 2-0 ACC
Previous Rank: 2
Last week: Won 48-34 at Boston College
This week: Saturday, noon vs. Maryland
NO. 3 MIAMI
So it, uhh, appears like we've got a genuine rivalry on our hands between Miami and South Florida. Not necessarily in the competitive sense, but definitely in the extreme dislike sense.
Fortunately for Miami, it was able to pull Morris early out of the romp over South Florida to protect his bum ankle. And backup Ryan Williams did just fine in his absence.
But the Canes could really, really use Morris for the full 60 minutes in this week's contest. Georgia Tech isn't South Florida, and it certainly isn't Savannah State. It's a ticked off team that knows it's likely one loss away from being out of the Coastal Division race.
As for Morris' current status, Al Golden says his star QB is doing just fine, thank you.
Previous Rank: 3
Last week: Won 49-21 at USF
This week: Saturday, 3:30 vs. Georgia Tech
NO. 4 MARYLAND
So I thought about moving Virginia Tech up to this spot after the Hokies' impressive road win at Georgia Tech. But Maryland actually did some nice work during its bye week, thanks to the nice work done by its previous opponent, West Virginia.
The narrative after the Terps' 37-0 win over the Mountaineers was basically: "Man, West Virginia is strugg-a-ling." Then the fighting Holgorsens turned right around and knocked off No. 11 Oklahoma State.
So the narrative now should either be: a) "Hey Maryland's pretty darned good!" or b) "Wow, the Big 12 is DOWWWNN."
Sadly, I feel like I'm hearing more of the latter. I'll be curious what the chatter is if the Terps go down to Tallahassee and give FSU a game.
Previous Rank: 5
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Saturday, noon at FSU
NO. 5 VIRGINIA TECH
You'd think I'd know by now.
The Hokies have been in this league for a freaking decade now and they've pretty much written the book on how to win ugly.
So you'd think I would have given Virginia Tech more of a chance at Georgia Tech. Oh, I did say "You know, if they force an early turnover or two, get a short field, punch in an early score, then maybe ..." but who am I kidding? I didn't really believe it.
I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Bud Foster. Well, I didn't really doubt you; I knew you'd bring the D. I just didn't think it would be that dominant.
And Logan Thomas, yeah, you made me look bad. Well done. Now, see if you can get a little help from your running backs, why don't you?
Record: 4-1 (1-0 ACC)
Previous Rank: 6
Last Week: Won 17-10 at Georgia Tech
This Week: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. vs. UNC
NO. 6 GEORGIA TECH
I kind of wanted to drop Georgia Tech down lower because the Jackets made me look bad by blowing a tire on the bandwagon I'd been riding. But I can't let personal animus dictate these rankings.
The Vad Lee situation is a fascinating one. You KNOW Paul Johnson loves the triple option aspect of his offense. We now all know that Lee's not so hot at running it. But we also know that Lee's still clearly the best passing option Georgia Tech has, and a pretty good runner as well. Hayes Permar posed this hypothetical to me during our podcast taping on Monday night: might Johnson feel soooo strongly about the triple option that he'd go to the backup, Justin Thomas, if Thomas was superior to Lee in that one aspect?
I doubt it. But this is Paul Johnson we're talking about here. He doesn't really care for this whole conventional wisdom thing.
Record: 3-1, 1-1 ACC
Previous Rank: 4
Last week: Lost 17-10 to Virginia Tech
This week: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Miami
NO. 7 N.C. STATE
Through four games, I'm starting to like this Wolfpack team. Which means I'm seeing that near debacle against Richmond as more of an anomaly.
Meanwhile, it looks like injured QB Brandon Mitchell is ahead of schedule for his return. But that won't happen fast enough to get him on the field this Saturday at Wake Forest.
Speaking of Winston-Salem, it's been a house of horrors for State over the last decade. (Scans through State Fans Nation post.) Wait, that's the exact phrase SFN used as well. Okay then, it's been a place where N.C. State goes and loses, every time, for the past 10 years. There.
I think State's got the better team this season, but I'm pretty sure the Wolfpack had superior talent in a few of those other recent trips to The Dash. This is why I don't gamble. Heck, I don't even predict the games. I let Brownlow have that fun job.
Previous Rank: 8
Last Week: Won 48-14 over Central Michigan
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Wake Forest
NO. 8 PITT
I was always a bit of a TOB apologist when he was at N.C. State. Maybe I'm just a sucker for low-key coaches with Midwestern roots and dry senses of humors who coach at schools in the shadow of an in-state rival that usually gets the lion's share of media attention.
So yeah, it's not surprise that I'm warming to Paul Chryst.
I am not, however, warming to Pitt's offensive line, which darned near got Tom Savage killed last Saturday against UVa. It's a good thing the Panthers have a bye week to let Savage recover because next up is ... gulp ... Virginia Tech.
Record: 3-1 overall, 2-1 ACC
Previous Rank: 10
Last Week: Won 14-3 over Virginia
This Week: Bye
NO. 9 BOSTON COLLEGE
So I thought BC's rout at the hands of Southern Cal was definitive proof that the Eagles, while clearly reinvigorated under first-year coach Steve Addazio, just didn't have the ability to hang with teams that had a clear edge in athleticism.
One quartet into the Eagles' game against FSU, I was starting to reconsider.
Yes, the Seminoles rebounded from an early 17-3 deficit to claim the win, but you can see the seeds of promise starting to grow in Chestnut Hill: Don Brown's attacking defense had the Noles off-balance early and BC looked like it had reclaimed the old BC power running game, with Andre Williams (28 carries, 149 yards) gashing the Noles' D with regularity.
Now the Eagles get a chance to build on that momentum with a home game against Army ... assuming the game gets played. Yep, that government shutdown may prevent the Army football team from playing. Unreal, huh?
Record: 2-2, 1-1 ACC
Previous Rank: 12
Last Week: Lost 48-34 to FSU
This Week: Saturday, 1 p.m. vs. Army
NO. 10 SYRACUSE
I still don't really know what to make of the Orange, which has lost to one decent team (Penn St.) and one good one (Northwestern) while crushing one patsy (Wagner) and routing one possibly okay opponent (Tulane, which just beat Louisana-Monroe, 31-14. You'll recall that ULM beat Wake.).
But so far, the Cuse hasn't looked totally inept on offense (as UVa did against Pitt) or totally hapless on defense (as UNC did against ECU) sooo ... welcome to the No. 10 spot Syracuse!
If the Orange continues its trend of losing to good teams and beating bad ones, well, that doesn't bode well for this weekend's game against Clemson, now does it?
Previous Rank: 11
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. vs. Clemson
NO. 11 VIRGINIA
The Cavaliers get this spot over UNC because UVa's best win (over BYU) is better than the Tar Heels' sole victory (over Middle Tennessee State). But honestly, No. 11, No. 12, who really cares?
What really matters is that UVa has a crisis of offense on its hands. The D? No need to worry about those guys.
The inbalance between the two units led to this tweet from Friend of the Program David Teel yesterday.
QB David Watford on #UVa's defense: "We [the offense] have to get to their level. ... We can’t depend on them all the time.”— David Teel (@DavidTeelatDP) September 30, 2013
It all sounded so ... familiar. Then it hit me.
@DavidTeelatDP Close your eyes, listen to that quote and tell me you're not in Blacksburg.— Jim Young (@ACCSports) September 30, 2013
Not surprisingly, UVa fans are looking for someone to blame for the offensive woes. Equally not surprising, UVa players and coaches are circling the wagons.
David Watford on #UVa OC Fairchild: "It's not his fault."— Cavs Journal (@CavsJournal) September 30, 2013
Great. Now I've got this movie scene stuck in my head.
Record: 2-2 (0-1 ACC)
Previous Rank: 7
Last Week: Lost 14-3 at Pitt
This Week: Saturday, noon vs. Ball State
NO. 12 NORTH CAROLINA
Look, I know it's bad when you get beat by 24 points by a team you look at as your annoying in-state little brother. And I know the defense looked totally hapless. But if there's anyone who can find some positives out of UNC's loss to ECU, it's perpetually upbeat and energetic Larry Fedora!
"The film didn't show us anything to make us feel anything better about it" -- Fedora— Shawn Krest (@KrestDukeTBA) September 30, 2013
Fedora: "We got outcoached in all three phases."— InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) September 30, 2013
Fedora says every week he feels like he's "relaying the loop," saying he can't just identify a single problem point.— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) September 30, 2013
It's like an entirely different coach Fedora today— Shawn Krest (@KrestDukeTBA) September 30, 2013
Oh, well ... hmmm ... the helmets looked nice!
I kid, but I think Fedora's taking the right approach. Trying to put lipstick on that pig of a performance would be a waste of time.
Record: 1-3, (0-1 ACC)
Previous Rank: 9
Last Week: Lost 55-31 to ECU
This Week: Saturday, 12:30 at Virginia Tech
NO. 13 DUKE
Quick recap of Duke's win over Troy:
The offense was good (514 yards and 38 points).
The defense was not (512 yards and 31 points).
Because nothing properly captures ACC football like a bunch of Morrisey look-alikes riding around on bikes.
Record: 3-2, 0-1 ACC
Previous Rank: 13
Last Week: Won 38-31 over Troy
This Week: Bye
NO. 14 WAKE FOREST
Look, we're at the end of these rankings. We all know what happened down in Death Valley. Let's not kick a team when it's down, okay?
Nope, sorry I can't just abdicate my responsibilities like that. How bad was Saturday? So bad it had longtime Wake beat writer Dan Collins flashing back to the Deacs' 82-24 loss to Clemson back in 1981.
Also, in the joyful aftermath of Wake's win over Army, Nikita Whitlock apparently told Collins that the Deacs had the best defense in the nation.
Look, I love Nikita Whitlock - who doesn't, really? - but ... no. Just ... no.
Record: 2-3, 0-2 ACC
Previous Rank: 14
Last Week: Lost 56-7 at Clemson
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 vs. N.C. State