I’m going to spare you the #GoACC memes and jokes this week, but just note for argument:
- The AAC West division, on average, has a higher quality of team than the ACC Coastal per Bill Connolly’s SP+ metric.
- The AAC West division ALSO has a higher average quality than the average in the ACC Atlantic per the same numbers, so don’t let the N.C. State fan in your life make the “our division is harder!” argument.
On to the rankings, with a look ahead at the rest of each team’s schedule!
- Clemson 9-0, 6-0: The Tigers disposed of Wofford 59-14, essentially getting all of their three-deep off the field for the second half of the game. The Tigers have to avoid the ultimate #GoACC result at N.C. State this Saturday before hosting Wake Forest with (pauses for effect) the ACC Atlantic on the line on November 16.
- Wake Forest 7-1, 3-1: Speaking of dismantling inferior competition from the Carolinas, Wake did that too last week, beating N.C. State 44-10 in a game where their win expectancy surpassed 93% with 7 minutes left in the first quarter. The weird defensive lapse against Louisville aside, the Deacs have been fantastic this year. Things tighten up for them a bit, as they visit Virginia Tech and Clemson in the next two before closing with Duke and Syracuse. Three wins, and you’re looking at the second Orange Bowl-bound Wake team of our lifetimes.
- Louisville 5-3, 3-2: No, YOU don’t know who to rank third! This is more of a “Scott Satterfield appreciation ranking” than anything else, as you’ll notice a slight pattern of “X beat Y team below them” for the next few spots. The Cardinals have a chance to really make an impression with a closing slate of at Miami, at N.C. State, Syracuse, and at Kentucky. If you had money on Louisville going 8-4, I’m flying you to Vegas with me when over/unders come out next year.
- Virginia 6-3, 4-2: Beat Carolina 38-31 in a game that didn’t play at all to expectations. The Virginia defense got gashed, which we haven’t seen yet this season. Bryce Perkins looked like an All-ACC quarterback, which...we haven’t seen yet this season. The Hoos now hold tiebreakers over Pitt and UNC, and have to find a way to get over the hump against Virginia Tech this year. If they do so (and take care of business against Georgia Tech this weekend) they’re your uninspiring ACC Coastal champ for 2019.
- Pittsburgh 6-3, 3-2: They beat Georgia Tech 20-10, which is oddly the same score by which they beat Ohio back in week 2. They played the exact same script against two opponents of equal quality. The Panthers are off this week before a Thursday night date with UNC, a road trip to Virginia Tech, and a home game against Boston College. Let’s talk about Virginia Tech below, because they’re now the team that can throw this thing into madness.
- Virginia Tech 5-3, 2-2: The Hokies were very game on the road against a decent Notre Dame team, but didn’t finish late (as a Carolina fan, you hate to see it.) To me, they did prove that they’re improving as Quincy Patterson becomes entrenched at the QB spot. The Hokies can ruin everything from here— they host Wake this week, and could throw the Orange Bowl spot into the 8-4 range with a win. After a trip to Georgia Tech, they play both of their two-loss cohorts in the Coastal: Pitt at home, and Virginia (whom they’ve beaten every year I’ve been of age to operate a vehicle) in Charlottesville.
- North Carolina 4-5, 3-3: Sigh. It was all a dream. For the Heels to get to Charlotte, they’d need a three-loss tie with Pitt, since any scenario in which the Heels were in a three-way tie with Virginia or Virginia Tech (who would also be 4-2 in the Coastal) would be lost in the head-to-head. So, Virginia needs to lose out. Tech needs to lose at home to Pitt, beat Virginia, and maybe lose to Wake this week. They would hold the tiebreakers with Miami and Duke at 5-3. Easy enough, right?
- Miami 5-4, 3-3: Are they good? No. Is this ranking a little inflated? Probably, but not necessarily. They got Willie Taggart fired with a 27-10 win in Tallahassee on Saturday, in a game that can only be characterized as “our patchwork offensive line is slightly better than your patchwork offensive line.” Their game against Louisville this Saturday will go a long way to separating the upper-half and lower-half ACC teams for the rest of the season.
- Duke 4-4, 2-3: The Blue Devils got to work on their goal-line offense during the bye week, and will need it with a beatable Notre Dame team coming to Durham this week. When they return to conference play next week, home against Syracuse, an opportunity to play spoiler at Wake, and home against Miami await them. Logically, you’d assume that bowl eligibility will be a tough road to hoe, but all bets are off in the completely unpredictable Wake/Duke rivalry.
- N.C. State 4-4, 1-3: That’s me in the corner, trying not to giggle too loudly. Devin Leary has not demonstrated the promise that a State fan would hope to see in his time as QB1, and it really does appear that the Eli Drinkwitz/Dwayne Ledford departures are doing a number on this State staff’s collective coaching acumen. YOU. HATE. TO. SEE. IT.
- Florida State 4-5, 3-4: Canned Willie Taggart after 21 games. After the notable disarray under which Jimbo Fisher left this program, this is akin to firing the contractor tasked with removing active asbestos spores from the HVAC system of a home, and not disclosing those issues to the next contractor whose job it is to just make it look pretty. Except, in this case, the initial contractor’s firing is VERY public. The Noles weren’t good, Taggart’s gameday execution would make Larry Fedora blush, but...you don’t stop a rebuild to rebuild in the middle of a rebuild.
- Boston College 5-4, 3-3: Oddly stable, after dismantling Syracuse, 58-27. With aforementioned in-disarray Florida State visiting this weekend, the Eagles have a shot to get bowl eligible at home before closing at Notre Dame and Pitt.
- Georgia Tech 2-6, 1-4: Very much rebuilding, but unlike Florida State will not be moving on from Geoff Collins any time soon. As Carolina fans, we are supporting the Yellow Jackets turning the corner at Virginia this week before beating Virginia Tech and State at home. Go Jackets.
- Syracuse 3-6, 0-5: Woof. As it stands now (with trips to Duke and Louisville and a home date with Wake remaining) the Cuse is going to go from 10 wins to 0-8 in-conference (with wins over Liberty, Western Michigan, and Holy Cross). That’s...bad.