Clemson first, Louisville last, and a bunch of teams making one or two-move jumps amongst themselves in the middle – that’s a pretty good summary of the entire 2018 season, wouldn’t you say? Pitt emerged from the cesspool of Coastal division talent and will square off with Clemson for the ACC Conference Title on December 1st, but not before their season finale with Miami, a game that if lost, would be the perfect way to punctuate the year for the ACC.
1. #2 Clemson (10-0 Overall, 8-0 Conference) (LW: #1)
Clemson puttered out of the gate against Duke and even relinquished a 6-0 lead through the first quarter, but they bounced back quickly to win their sixth straight ACC league game by at least 20 points and earn another shot at their fourth consecutive conference title. Currently at No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, Clemson is to the ACC what every homecoming queen is to their tiny, rural counties – hot and full of hope but surrounded by a bunch of slobs.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 vs. South Carolina (6-4) at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN
2. Pittsburgh (7-4 Overall, 6-1 Conference) (LW: #4)
For the first time in program history, the Panthers have clinched their first berth to the ACC Championship game and if I’m being honest, this was not the team I predicted to be writing about in this spot. But hey, they decidedly beat Syracuse earlier in the year, they beat then-ranked Virginia, they gave Notre Dame a run for their money and they of course beat up on everyone else in the conference. I must say, it’s so painfully 2018 ACC that their one conference loss came against North Carolina but nonetheless, all year I’ve been searching for the second-best team behind Clemson, and ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 at Miami (6-5) at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
3. #12 Syracuse (8-3 Overall, 5-2 Conference) (LW: #2)
Syracuse entered their matchup with the Fighting Irish averaging close to 50 points per game and ultimately were held to just three in their third loss of the season. I suppose that was to be expected without Eric Dungey, though, who exited the game with a lower back injury, and Dino Babbers is hopeful his stud QB can return in time for their finale against Boston College. Tommy “The Comeback Kid” DeVito was unimpressive in Dungey’s absence, throwing two interceptions and being sacked six times.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 at #20 Boston College (7-4) at 12:00 p.m. on ESPN
4. NC State (7-3 Overall, 4-3 Conference) (LW: #5)
NC State came out of the gate kinda slow but eventually found their rhythm and drummed Louisville, 52-10. Ryan Finley threw for 316 yards and a career-high 4 TDs as the Wolfpack offense amassed 518 total yards. Finley also rose to second on the school’s all-time yards passing list, trailing only Phillip Rivers.
Up next: Saturday 11/17 at Louisville (2-9) at 12:20 p.m. on ACC Network Extra
5. #20 Boston College (7-4 Overall, 4-3 Conference) (LW: #3)
The game slipped away late from the Eagles who surrendered the game-winning touchdown with just 1:49 left. AJ Dillon was back in action and carried the ball a season-high 37 times for 116 yards and a touchdown, and also became the first Boston College rusher to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Anthony Brown, also back from injury, completed 18 of 33 passes for 297 yards and a score but tossed two interceptions.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 vs. #12 Syracuse (8-3) at 12:00 p.m. on ESPN
6. Georgia Tech (7-4 Overall, 5-3 Conference) (LW: #8)
Georgia Tech is riding a four-game winning streak right now but that’s soon to end as they hit the road to face Georgia. Nevertheless, Paul Johnson and his triple option attack are headed to a bowl game, his 9th in 11 years as the Yellow Jackets signal caller.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 at #5 Georgia (10-1) at 12:00 p.m. on SEC Network
7. Virginia (7-4 Overall, 4-3 Conference) (LW: #6)
Remember when Virginia was ranked? Seems like such a distant memory. They’ve had every opportunity to prove themselves a competent opponent but when it comes down to crunch time, they crumble. A four-point loss to Indiana, three-point loss in overtime to Georgia Tech, a ten-point loss to Georgia Tech… You’ve got to be able to close these games out. However, I still give a lot of credit to Bronco Mendenhall for the quick turnaround of this program.
Up next: Friday 11/23 at Virginia Tech (4-6) at 3:30 p.m. on ABC
8. Duke (7-4 Overall, 3-4 Conference) (LW: #7)
Duke actually kept their game with Clemson closer than I expected, even shutting the Tigers out in the first quarter and jumping out to a 6-0 lead. But then Clemson scored 35 straight points and that was the end of that.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 vs. Wake Forest (5-6) at 12:30 p.m. on ACC Network
9. Miami (6-5 Overall, 3-4 Conference) (LW: #11)
The Canes snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over Virginia Tech and even though they earned bowl eligibility, if it were up to me, I would not reward Miami with a trip to a bowl game for their accomplishments in 2018. For God sakes, their wins include Savannah State, Toledo, FIU, and then UNC, FSU and Virginia Tech, a.k.a. three of the worst teams in the ACC. However, it would be so fitting for Miami to upset Pitt in their season finale that I kinda hope it happens.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 vs. Pitt (7-4) at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
10. Florida State (5-6 Overall, 3-5 Conference) (LW: #12)
Turtle killer Ricky Aguayo kicked three field goals and Deondre Francois threw a 74-yard touchdown pass with 1:49 left as the Seminoles upset Boston College 22-21 Saturday. Florida State, who has been at the No. 12 spot in these rankings for the majority of the season, now has a chance to become bowl eligible, but with their final game against the Florida Gators, it’s highly unlikely.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 vs. #13 Florida (8-3) at 12:00 p.m. on ABC
11. Wake Forest (5-6 Overall, 2-5 Conference) (LW: #9)
They say aggressive wins, but unfortunately for the Demon Deacons, head coach Dave Clawson’s decisions were rooted in passivity. Instead of going for it on a couple fourth-and-shorts, Clawson opted instead to kick short field goals and play it safe. But field goals don’t win games, and neither does being timid. Touchdowns erase deficits; touchdowns win games. Aggressive wins games.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 at Duke (7-4) at 12:30 p.m. on ACC Network Extra
12. Virginia Tech (4-6 Overall, 3-4 Conference) (LW: #10)
The Hokies are currently on a four-game losing streak entering this week’s matchup with Virginia but if they can win the game, then they’ve still got a chance to become bowl eligible; they’ve agreed to a conditional game with Marshall for December 1st in attempt to potentially earn their sixth win of the season and extend their bowl streak to 26 consecutive years. If Virginia wins, the Hokies will be eliminated from bowl contention and the game with Marshall will be called off.
Up next: Friday 11/23 vs. Virginia (7-4) at 3:30 p.m. on ABC
13. North Carolina (2-8 Overall, 1-6 Conference) (LW: #13)
NORFFF CAROOOLINAAAA, C’MON AND RAISE UP! The Heels snapped a six-game losing streak Saturday against the Western Carolina Catamounts as their offense combined for a season-high 654 total yards. It had been since September 22nd that the Tar Heels earned their first win of the season and even that was an overtime victory over Pitt of all people. Hard to believe this team beat the team playing for the ACC title, but true.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 vs. NC State (7-3) at 12:20 p.m. on ACC Network Extra
14. Louisville (2-9 Overall, 0-8 Conference) (LW: #14)
When Louisville loses to Kentucky on Saturday, it’ll mark the first time since 1997 that the Cards lost ten games in a season, and only the second time in the history of the program since its inception in 1946. Bottom line, this is statistically one of the worst Cards teams ever. But the bigger the setback, the bigger the come up. With rumors swirling about Jeff Brohm becoming the next head coach at the school and a list of other candidates who are all at least better choices than Bobby Petrino, rest assured that there are better days to come in the Derby City.
Up next: Saturday 11/24 vs. #17 Kentucky (8-3) at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2