As we enter the fifth week of the college football season, it’s painstakingly clear that Clemson is the proverbial .01% and the gap between them and everyone else is growing. A pair of disappointing losses for two of the teams previously ranked atop the conference has erased any doubts that the ACC is currently the weakest amongst the Power 5.
The league finished 8-6 last week and went 0-2 when facing Power 5 opponents outside of the ACC. Including three conference matchups, the league was 3-5 versus Power 5 competition. Not ideal. Let’s dive into how things shook out for everybody.
1. #3 Clemson (4-0 Overall) (LW: #1)
The Tigers had no issues coasting to their fourth win of the season, a 49-21 drubbing of Georgia Tech. It doesn’t matter who starts at quarterback for Clemson, they probably aren’t moving outta this number one spot any time soon, if at all. Looking ahead at their schedule, it’s highly unlikely they fail to finish the season undefeated.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 vs. Syracuse (4-0) at 12:00 p.m. on ABC
2. #16 Miami (3-1 Overall) (LW: #3)
Minus their season-opening loss to LSU, Miami has been graced with pretty light competition to this point. Wins over Savannah State (77-0), Toledo (49-24) and FIU (31-17) have the Hurricanes feeling good about themselves entering their first ACC matchup, a Thursday night contest against UNC. For the sake of the conference, please, no slip-ups.
Up next: Thursday 9/27 vs. North Carolina (1-2) at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN
3. #22 Duke (4-0 Overall) (LW: #6)
Up three spots from last week, Duke has been the pleasant surprise of the bunch. Two weeks ago, I predicted we’d see a significant drop for the Blue Devils as their three-year starting quarterback and star cornerback were both lost to injury. But sure enough, Quinten Harris has stepped right in, leading Duke to back-to-back wins and their first Top 25 ranking since 2015. They improved to 4-0 with a 55-10 beatdown of North Carolina Central.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 vs. Virginia Tech (2-1) at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2
4. NC State (3-0 Overall) (LW: #5)
Powered by 377 passing yards and a touchdown from Ryan Finley, the Wolfpack stayed perfect with a 37-20 road win against Marshall. Finley currently ranks second amongst the ACC in passing yards (1056), which is impressive, considering he’s played a game less than most everyone else in the conference; their week three contest against West Virginia was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 vs. Virginia (3-1) at 12:20 p.m. on ACC Network
5. Syracuse (4-0 Overall, 1-0 Conference) (LW: #7)
Syracuse, who have yet to trail this season, have won their first four games for the first time since 1991. Eric Dungey rushed for 77 yards and 3 TDs while passing for 286 yards and two more scores as the Orange demolished UCONN, 51-21.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 at #3 Clemson (4-0) at 3:30 p.m. on ABC
6. Boston College (3-1 Overall, 1-0 Conference) (LW: #4)
Four interceptions Saturday led to the downfall that was Boston College; they dropped their first loss of the season, a 30-13 bummer against Purdue. Star running back AJ Dillon, who leads the ACC in rushing yards, was held to just 59 yards on 19 carries.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 vs. Temple (2-2) at 12:00 p.m. on ESPNU
7. #13 Virginia Tech (2-1 Overall, 1-0 Conference) (LW: #2)
Unequivocally the worst, most inexcusable loss for the conference to this point (and maybe even in college football), the Hokies were embarrassed by FCS Old Dominion, 49-35. What’s even more embarrassing is that Old Dominion rolled into the game 0-3 after losing games to Liberty, FIU and Charlotte. How the hell does the team who appeared to be arguably the conference’s second best lose to a team like that?
Up next: Saturday 9/29 at #22 Duke (4-0) at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2
8. Virginia (3-1 Overall, 1-0 Conference) (LW: #11)
A 27-3 win over Louisville and a few losses above them help give the Cavs a three-spot bump to No. 8 this week. Virginia boasts two of the conference’s leading offensive players in terms of yardage in receiver Olamide Zaccheaus and running back Jordan Ellis.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 at NC State (3-0) at 12:20 p.m. on ACC Network
9. Wake Forest (2-2 Overall, 0-1 Conference) (LW: #9)
The Demon Deacons followed up their discouraging 41-34 loss to Boston College with an even more discouraging 56-27 loss to Notre Dame, though that one probably doesn’t come as a shock to anyone. On Monday, the Associated Press reported Wake Forest had fired defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel, a decision not believed to have been made out of impulse. The team’s defense currently ranks 114th in the nation, allowing 484 yards per game.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 vs. Rice (1-3) at 3:30 p.m. on ACC Network
10. Florida State (2-2 Overall, 0-2 Conference) (LW: #13)
Deondre Francois threw for a season-high 352 yards and 2 TDs to lift the ‘Noles 37-19 over NIU. Despite this remarkable achievement, we’re talking about a team whose only other win of the season was a come-from-behind victory over Samford.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 at Louisville (2-2) at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2
11. Georgia Tech (1-3 Overall, 0-2 Conference) (LW: #12)
Believe me, this improvement in the rankings is merely a reflection of the recent successes and failures of others, not Georgia Tech’s.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 vs. Bowling Green (1-3) at 12:00 p.m. on ACC Network
12. Louisville (2-2 Overall, 0-1 Conference) (LW: #8)
Louisville managed just 214 total yards and their offense has still yet to score a first-half touchdown this season. Want to hear another flattering stat? The three points the Cards scored in their 27-3 loss to Virginia is the lowest point total for Head Coach Bobby Petrino in his head coaching career. Nice.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 vs. Florida State (2-2) at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2
13. North Carolina (1-2 Overall, 1-0 Conference) (LW: #14)
The Tar Heels defeated fellow dumpster fire Pittsburgh 38-35 to move up one spot. Congrats, guys.
Up next: Thursday 9/27 at #16 Miami (3-1) at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN
14. Pittsburgh (2-2 Overall, 1-1 Conference) (LW: #10)
If you lose to the previously-ranked worst team in the conference, and you were already kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel anyways, you move to dead-last, no questions asked.
Up next: Saturday 9/29 at #13 UCF (3-0) at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU