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ACC Football Power Rankings, Sept. 10

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 10:06am

Week Two is in the rearview mirror and I'm trying to adjust to not having any weekday ACC football games. I miss the good old days.

NO. 1 CLEMSON

There's not much to say about last week. The Tigers took care of an FCS opponent with ease. Maybe the most interesting thing was that Clemson returned two interceptions for scores. Backup Cole Stoudt was pretty darned good, completing 19 of 20 passes for three TDs.

Now the Tigers are off until next Thursday, Sept. 19, when they travel to N.C. State. I've said before - that would be a classic trap game ... if the Wolfpack actually had its starting quarterback ... which it doesn't. 

Record: 2-0

Previous Rank: 1

Last week: beat S.C. State, 52-13.

This week: Bye

NO. 2 FLORIDA STATE

There's even less to say about the Seminoles, who had last week off. Maybe the most interesting bye week info came from our FSU Insider, who wrote about Jimbo Fisher's attempts to keep Jameis Winston under wraps. It almost gives you the sense that Jimbo would have preferred a 15-of-27 game from Winston at Pitt, instead of the 25-of-27 jewel the freshman QB turned in. Instead, Winston was awesome, he's popping up on Heisman lists already, and Fisher is trying to make sure the hype train doesn't suffer a derailment at a critical juncture.

Record: 1-0 overall, 1-0 ACC

Previous Rank: 2

Last week: Bye

This week: 3:30 p.m., vs. Nevada

NO. 3 MIAMI

The Hurricanes managed just 212 yards of total offense. Their last 10 drives (not Tyriq McCordMiami's defense was put to the test and passed repeatedly. (AP Photo/The Miami Herald/Al Diaz) counting the one cut short by the end of the second quarter) included eight 3-and-outs and an interception. 

They put up those putrid numbers against Florida. And won.

If you're an SEC fan, this tells you that Gator QB Jeff Driskel is awful and that Miami is lucky.

If you're a Miami fan, you talk non-stop about the defense, which was opportunistic (five forced turnovers) and showed off improved depth, never breaking against Florida despite spending tons of time on the field over the final three quarters.

If you're ESPN, you just start hunting for new, exciting ways to use the word "swagger," now that the "The U is back."

I'm not quite there yet. I need to see more from Stephen Morris. Still, I'm way, way impressed.  

Record: 2-0

Previous Rank: 4

Last week: Beat Florida, 21-16

This week: Bye

NO. 4 GEORGIA TECH

Vad Lee returns to his hometown to face a much-improved Duke defense. More importantly, the Georgia Tech defense doesn't have to face Blue Devil QB Anthony Boone, who broke his collarbone against Memphis.

Speaking of the Georgia Tech D, do you think Paul Johnson was satisfied with the Yellow Jackets' shutout against Elon? Nope, writes our Georgia Tech Insider

Curmudgeon's gonna curmudgeon. Never change, CPJ. Never change.

Record: 1-0

Previous Rank: 3

Last week: Bye

This week: 3:30 p.m., at Duke. 

NO. 5 VIRGINIA TECH

Well, the receivers caught the ball last week, which was a marked improvement. And Logan Thomas went from 5-for-26 to 17-of-31, which is nice. But he has to be better than that if the Hokies are going to make a run at the Coastal. The defense is already there and the running game is making strides (238 yards against Western Carolina), but 14 incompletions against an overmatched FCS opponent? Gotta do better. 

Record: 0-1

Previous Rank: 5

Last Week: Beat Western Carolina, 45-3.

This Week: Noon, at East Carolina. 

NO. 6 MARYLAND

Another week, another impressive performance by Maryland QB C.J. Brown. Look, we all knew the Terps would be better off with Brown at quarterback, as opposed to freshman linebacker Shawn Petty. But I for one didn't expect Brown to be this much better than his previous 2012 self. That version of Brown completed only 49.4% of his passes. 2013 Brown? He's got a 75.6% completion percentage and 5 TDs, against 0 interceptions.

That's all well and good, but how will Brown handle the pressure of ... wait for it ... THE EDSALL BOWL!!!!!!!!!! Maryland! UConn! Two teams enter! One team leaves!

What? You're not feeling it? 

Record: 2-0

Previous Rank: 6

Last Week: Beat Old Dominion, 47-10

This Week: 7:30 p.m., at UConn

NO. 7 NORTH CAROLINA

Last Saturday was pretty "meh" for the Tar Heels, but it says something about the state of the program that UNC can be "meh" - particularly in the running game - and still easily handle a potentially dangerous opponent in Middle Tennessee State (just ask Georgia Tech). 

Still, this feels like a good time for a bye week for the Tar Heels. A chance for Larry Fedora to tidy up some of the sloppiness and for him to show highlight tapes of Georgia Tech's 68-point performance in Chapel Hill on an endless loop for two weeks straight, until the Tar Heels travel to Atlanta on Sept. 21.

Record: 1-1

Previous Rank: 8

Last Week: Beat Middle Tennessee St., 40-20.

This Week: Bye

NO. 8 DUKE

The defense has allowed just one touchdown in two games. It's second in the ACC behind just Virginia Tech in total yardage allowed thus far. The run game is clicking too, to the tune of 215 yards per contest - third best in the league so far.

I know the opponents make it necessary to add more than a pinch of salt to those numbers. Still, they're signs of real progress and would be cause for real optimism, but ...

(There are always seems to be a "but" with Duke football, even in the David Cutcliffe Era.) 

... starting quarterback Anthony Boone is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone. Backup Brandon Connette performed well in a relief role last week, but there's a reason why Boone was the starter and Connette more of the Swiss Army knife. 

Oh and did we mention Georgia Tech and a fired-up Vad Lee are coming to town?  

Record: 2-0

Previous Rank: 10

Last Week: Beat Memphis, 28-14 

This Week: 3:30 p.m., vs. Georgia Tech

NO. 9 N.C. STATE

How does a team win a game and then get leapfrogged in our power rankings by a team that merely won over lowly Memphis? When that team - in this case, N.C. State - needed to rally from 11 points down to beat an FCS team - in this case, Richmond - on a last-minute field goal.

Speaking of which, hats off to Nik Sade. He's made all seven attempts this season, including three against Richmond. It says a lot about Dave Doeren's confidence in Sade's leg - and yes, maybe a little about Doeren's lack of confidence in quarterback Pete Thomas' decision-making - that the State coach had his team go conservative and play for the field goal, when it was a 48-yarder. That's no chip shot, folks.

We love to hate kickers, but a good one is worth his weight in gold.

Record: 2-0

Previous Rank: 9

Last Week: Beat Richmond, 23-21.

This Week: Bye

NO. 10 VIRGINIA

I was tempted to drop the Cavaliers further after watching them get treated like Wile E. Coyote by Oregon's roster of Road Runners. But then I saw BYU - UVa's first-week victim - run all over Texas. And then I thought a bit more about what I saw from Oregon. That speed is just ... otherworldly.

But I will consider this spot tenuous until I see something out of QB David Watford that inspires any sort of confidence. Right now that 1/4 TD-to-INT ratio and that paltry 3.8 yards-per-attempt average aren't really doing it for me. 

Record: 1-1

Previous Rank: 7

Last Week: Lost to Oregon, 59-10

This Week: Bye

NO. 11 BOSTON COLLEGE

Am I disrespecting the undefeated Eagles by ranking them below a team that just lost by 49 points? Perhaps. But I still think a win over BYU carries more weight than a win over Wake Forest.

And maybe I'm trying to do a little motivation as well.

Stay with me, here. The Eagles are coming off a big win over Wake in #TheRivalry. Then they've got FSU coming to town on Sept. 28, with the top spot in the Atlantic perhaps on the line. Factor in that they travel cross-country to play a wounded Southern Cal team that lost to woeful Washington State and you've got all the makings of a classic trap game ... for BC.

I love that the ACC's strong start has allowed me so many opportunities for snark. 

Record: 2-0, 1-0 ACC

Previous Rank: 14

Last Week: Beat Wake Forest, 24-10.

This Week: 3 p.m., at Southern Cal

NO. 12 PITT

It's hard to draw any firm conclusions about the Panthers based only on that one loss to FSU. I know Bud Elliott of TomahawkNation.com thinks Pitt's a 7-8 win team. But Bud may - I'm just throwing it out there - be predisposed to see FSU's 41-13 win over Pitt more as a function of the Seminoles' awesomeness than of the Panthers' flaws.

Will we learn much from a visit by New Mexico? Hard to say. But I do want to see if QB Tom Savage makes better decisions against the Lobos and if Pitt's experienced D has recovered from giving up 533 yards and 8.6 yards per play against FSU. 

Record: 0-1 overall, 0-1 ACC

Previous Rank: 12

Last Week: Bye

This Week: 12:30 p.m., vs. New Mexico

NO. 13 SYRACUSE

There's no shame in being 0-2 when you've faced quality opponents such as Penn State and Northwestern. But there's no reward, either.

I realize that the Orange is stuck trying to prove a negative with me: prove to me that you're not a bad team. I also realize that a win over Wagner - even if it's lopsided - won't help Syracuse's case with me either.

Of course, Syracuse's next chance to really "prove" itself to me (as if Syracuse really cares what I think) would be Oct. 5 against ... Clemson. Yeesh. 

Record: 0-2

Previous Rank: 13

Last Week: Lost at Northwestern, 48-27.

Next Week: 4 p.m., vs. Wagner

NO. 14 WAKE FOREST 

I picked Wake to finish third in the Atlantic Division. I promise you at the time that it made sense. There was a lot of experience returning on both sides of the ball and I felt like this year the Deacs would finally restart the running game that is so near and dear to Jim Grobe.

Instead, the Deacs managed just 55 yards on 39 carries against a BC defense that hardly came into the game with a reputation for being the Alabama of the North. 

There's still plenty of time for Wake to turn this season around, but as I wrote just before the start of the season, it's also valid to start reappraising Jim Grobe. Not calling for his head, mind you. Just, taking a second, closer look at things. 

Record: 1-1, 0-1 ACC

Previous Rank: 11

Last Week: Lost at Boston College, 24-10

 

This Week: 12:30, vs. Louisiana-Monroe