ACC Power Rankings Week 1

ACC Power Rankings Week 1

The Atlantic is as good as it’s ever been this season, but will anyone be able to knock Clemson off as top dogs? Meanwhile, the Coastal looks like a straightforward contest between Miami and Virginia Tech, but perhaps an upstart Pittsburgh team that tasted blood last season will have something to say about that.

Two of the biggest games of opening weekend involve ACC teams. Miami looks to earn a quality win against #25 LSU after stumbling down the stretch last season, while Florida State and Virginia Tech close out opening weekend with early season bragging rights on the line. And no one has a better chance to earn a statement win than Louisville, who will travel to Orlando to take on the defending national champion and preseason #1 Alabama Crimson Tide.

1. Clemson (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: vs. Furman Paladins (0-0)

I’m going out on a limb and starting the Tigers off at number 1 this season. Okay, but really how boring is it putting Clemson at number 1 week after week? The team has been solidly at the top for so long that it seems like they might never come down. Kelly Bryant has been announced as the starter for week 1, but true freshman Trevor Lawrence is waiting in the wings to steal his spot. This is quite a nice problem for Dabo Swinney to have, especially given that his defense gave up only 12.7 PPG last year before the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. They’ve made it to the playoff the last three years and look poised for a 4-peat.

2. Miami (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: vs. #25 LSU Tigers (0-0)

What will the Turnover Chain Part 2 look like? Miami are the favorites to take home the Coastal crown, but so much of their success will ride on the shoulders of Malik Rosier. Rosier was as clutch as they come last season, but he also made mistakes that left fans scratching their heads. His benching in Pittsburgh, after being soundly outplayed by true freshman Kenny Pickett, marked the end of a very exciting first 10 weeks of the season. The Canes come into this season on a three-game losing streak and will have to take on LSU week 1. It’s the ‘Canes only chance to prove themselves until an October 6th meeting with FSU, so if they want to be taken seriously this year, this game is an absolute must win.

3. Virginia Tech (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: at #19 Florida State Seminoles (0-0)

Much like Miami, so much of VT’s success rests on the shoulders of their quarterback. Josh Jackson returns for his sophomore season after a solid first season with the Hokies, but will need to play better in big games in order for VT to be a true contender. Last season against Miami and Clemson, Jackson threw for 348 yards, 1 TD and 4 INTs. He will be tested immediately as the Hokies head down to Tallahassee for a huge ACC matchup in week 1. The defense should be solid again, but losing Tremaine Edmunds to the NFL draft leaves a huge hole to fill at linebacker.

4. Florida State (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: vs. #20 Virginia Tech Hokies (0-0)

Jimbo Fisher is out. Deondre Francois is back. I had someone defend the Noles yesterday by telling me that FSU was ranked 3rd in the country before Francois went down with injury last season. It was a preseason ranking! Would the Noles have been a better team with Francois? Of course, they would have. But 3rd best in the country? Ehhhhh. Last year’s team was the trainwreck that all ‘Canes fans had been waiting years for. FSU will be much better this year under first year coach Willie Taggart, but they should be counting their blessings that they got VT at home and not on the road in week 1.

5. Boston College (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: vs. Massachusetts Minutemen (0-0)

Don’t sleep on this team. BC has finished 7-6 in 4 of the last 5 seasons so perhaps putting them this high seems like a bit of a stretch. But with Louisville losing Lamar Jackson, and NC State losing most of their defense, there is no reason to think that the Eagles can’t make things at least a little interesting in the ACC. They will look to control games with a powerful running game led by AJ Dillon, who had 1589 yards and 14 TDs last season. Last season was a tale of two halves for the Eagles as they started the season 2-4 looking uncompetitive in all their losses. But then they won at Louisville, at Virginia, and walloped FSU 35-3 at home, en route to winning 5 of their last 6. Their only loss during that span was a 3-point defeat to NC State. Later on, they lost a tough bowl game to Iowa to end the season, but Steve Addazio’s team was playing with confidence at the end of last season. With 2 easy games to start, the Eagles will have time to work out any kinks before the big games come up.

6. Louisville (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0)

The Cardinals won’t be able to compete with FSU or Clemson for the Atlantic title but they still have more talent on their offense than most of the ACC. They return their top three receivers in Jaylen Smith (980 yards, 7 TDs), Dez Fitzpatrick (699 yards 9 TDs), and Seth Dawkins (642 yards and 4 TDs). How much of this had to do with Jackson? We will find out quickly when Jawon Pass fills in for the former Heisman trophy winner. While the offense still looks solid, the he defense is not good. Remember this is a team that still lost 5 games last year even with Jackson, so Pass will have to keep the high-powered offense high powered if Louisville wants to have real success this season.

7. North Carolina State (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: vs. James Madison Dukes (0-0)

Alright NC State, what do you have for an encore? The Wolfpack were much better last year than anyone expected them to be, rattling off 6 straight wins after an opening loss to South Carolina. They return QB Ryan Finley, who has thrown for over 3,000 yards in each of his last two seasons and will look to light up opponents again this season. Finley will most likely have to outscore opponents as the defense is very mediocre at best. This is a team that could finish as high as 2nd in the Atlantic and as low as 6th.

8. Pittsburgh (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: vs. Albany Great Danes (0-0)

The Panthers were one win away from making a bowl last season (nothing like a home loss to UNC to ruin things) and return much of their defensive unit. They also return “Cane Killer” Kenny Pickett, who is back for his sophomore season and ready to crush dreams yet again. Pickett started one game last season and handed the 2nd ranked Canes their first loss of the season.

9. Wake Forest (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: at Tulane Green Wave (0-0)

That’s back-to-back bowl appearances and wins for a team that had really gotten cozy being bad. Dave Clawson is a master at turning programs around, but then he always leaves after his 4th season (Fordham, Richmond, Bowling Green). Well this is going to be his 5th season at Wake, so what happens in this uncharted territory? National Championship? In a stacked Atlantic, making a bowl may be the most realistic goal.

10. Georgia Tech (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: vs. Alcorn State Braves (0-0)

Last year’s Yellow Jackets weren’t as bad as their record suggests. They were a miracle play away from beating Miami on the road, they lost a 2OT thriller to Tennessee in week 1 and very nearly pulled off a win in Virginia. That 5-6 record could have easily been 8-3. Over the last 4 seasons Tech has alternated losing and winning seasons. Last season was a losing one, so this one has to be a winning one, right? In a Coastal division with a few question marks, it’s possible.

11. Duke (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: vs. Army Golden Knights (0-0)

Duke’s 2017 campaign started promising with a huge win over Northwestern helping them advance to 4-0. Then the wheels came off and they lost 6 straight and looked like they would miss a bowl altogether. Instead, they rallied, winning their last two games and earning a bowl spot where they blew the doors off Northern Illinois. Daniel Jones has had two solid seasons for Duke, but can he stop turning the ball over? If he does this, Duke team could finish 3rd in the Coastal. If he doesn’t, they can go hang out with UVA and UNC.

12. Syracuse (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: at Western Michigan Broncos (0-0)

For 3 straight years the Orange have finished 2-6 in the Atlantic. Eric Dungey is back at QB for his senior year and he is going to have to throw for much more than 14 TDs this year if he plans to outscore opponents who will be feasting on his defense. In Syracuse’s 5 game losing streak to end last season, their defense gave up an average of 43.2 PPG. How in the world did this team beat Clemson?

13. UNC (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: at California Golden Bears (0-0)

So, how do you rebound from a dreadful 3-9 season that left you in the basement of the ACC? You sell your own merchandise, obviously. UNC will be without 13 players for their first game against Cal, which doesn’t bode well for a team that has not won a regular season opener against an FBS opponent since 2000. Cal beat UNC at UNC last year in week 1, so it’s probably best if UNC forgets about week 1 and just starts the season in week 2 pretending they have a clean slate.

14. Virginia (0-0, 0-0 ACC)

First Opponent: vs Richmond Spiders (0-0)

Last season Virginia was shockingly competitive in their second year under coach Bronco Mendenhall. They made their first bowl game in 6 years and finished a respectable 3-5 in ACC play. But there is good news for ACC fans. Virginia is back in the cellar. WAHOO! Virginia lost 6 of their last 7 to end the season including a 49-7 loss in the Military Bowl to Navy. Bronco Mendenhall also says that only 27 of his players are ACC caliber. This should be a fun season in Charlottesville.

Comments (10)

So the Pitt loss- nearly every qb has one "**** the bed" game. Unfortunately, Richt couldn't coach around Rosier or find a way to get the rest of the team to carry him. Clemson - we were depleted and outgunned. No shame in taking that L. Wisconsin looked like two closely matched teams (because of our injuries) . If we play 10 times and refs calling it fair, we win 7 times. Not saying they got lucky, but a healthy Miami beats them by 2 TDs. So in retrospect, the losses were painful, but I wouldn't call any of them an embarrassment (on the level of Troy getting paid 1million to kick LSU 's ***)
I’d have BC at 3.

1. Clemson
2. Miami
3. BC
4. FSU
5. VaTech
I’d have BC at 3.

1. Clemson
2. Miami
3. BC
4. FSU
5. VaTech
BC returns 10 starters on offense, including all 5 OL, and 6 on defense. They are gonna be tough. FPI says BC is our most difficult game this year. I believe it was 61% chance of winning.
Didn’t even realize VT and FSU were playing Week 1. Maybe I will check out the box score for the **** of it
BC returns 10 starters on offense, including all 5 OL, and 6 on defense. They are gonna be tough. FPI says BC is our most difficult game this year. I believe it was 61% chance of winning.
I was tempted to keep going higher with BC, but I want to see how they come out and play first now that there is some hype around them.
I was tempted to keep going higher with BC, but I want to see how they come out and play first now that there is some hype around them.
Fair enough. What I’ve heard is that they are soft up the midde on defense. So they should be suspectible to power run teams.

I’ve struggled with FSU. I think their talent is too good for them to be bad, but they have a brutal schedule. I think they beat (and are more talented than) Va Tech. I think they both finish 8-4.
BC is going to be a good team this year. That is the bad road game on the schedule. BC always plays well at home.