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ACC Power Rankings: Week 9

The Tar Heels drop after another crushing defeat.

North Carolina v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Every game in the ACC this past week went about how it was expected to go except for the UNC-Virginia game, where the Hoos were able to pull off a major upset and hand the Heels their second loss of the year against a team with a losing record. Clemson narrowly eked by BC without its star QB and now gets ready to take on #4 Notre Dame this weekend (once again without Lawrence). Although there wasn’t a whole lot of movement in the rankings this week, that top five matchup along with some other key games in the conference should help clear up the ACC title race.

1. #1 Clemson Tigers (7-0, 6-0)

With Trevor Lawrence sidelined due to COVID-19, the Tigers got just about everything they could handle from Boston College on Saturday. BC actually held the lead for the majority of the game, but freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei led the offense on a 90-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that would give Clemson the lead for good. The come-from-behind victory sets up for one of the most anticipated matchups of the season this weekend between the Tigers and fellow undefeated Notre Dame.

2. #4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0, 5-0)

After a sluggish performance against Louisville, the Irish offense appears to be humming once again with two straight dominating victories over Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech, respectively. Notre Dame has taken care of business while waiting patiently for its chance to prove it’s the best team in the conference. Well, that opportunity is finally here as the Clemson Tigers are set to arrive in South Bend for a Saturday night matchup between two top five teams. As mentioned, Lawrence won’t be playing, but the Tigers at least have an idea now of what their offense will look like without him. This game will have major implications for both the playoff and ACC pictures.

3. #11 Miami Hurricanes (5-1, 4-1)

Although the Hurricanes had a bye this past week, they were able to move into sole possession of third in the ACC after watching UNC fall to Virginia. Miami fans will likely be cheering on Clemson this weekend as it looks like their best shot at making it to the conference championship is by Notre Dame losing at least two games. The Hurricanes go on the road to face NC State this Saturday.

4. Boston College Eagles (4-3, 3-3)

Boston College very nearly pulled off what would’ve been one of the biggest upsets in college football in its 34-28 loss to Clemson. The headlines were obviously about the absence of Trevor Lawrence but give credit to BC’s offense for picking apart the Tigers in the first half. First-year coach Jeff Hafley is letting the rest of the ACC know that the Eagles are not to be pushed around any longer. They’ll face Syracuse this weekend.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels (4-2, 4-2)

The Tar Heels suffered yet another defeat to a struggling ACC team in desperate need of a win. Though they’ve typically been competitive, Virginia had lost four straight heading into this matchup. The Heels allowed an offense that had eclipsed 23 points just once this season to put up 44. Any hopes of making the playoff vanished after this game but Carolina still has a lot of important games and plenty to play for moving forward. They’ll try to get things cleaned up at Duke on Saturday.

6. Virginia Tech Hokies (4-2, 4-2)

The Hokies bounced back with a win at Louisville this past weekend. They managed to control the game throughout, with the Cardinals threatening at times but never able to get over the hump. Virginia Tech now sits in a three-way tie for fourth in the ACC. They’ll take on the undefeated #25 Liberty Flames on Saturday.

7. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-2, 3-2)

Wake Forest handled Syracuse with relative ease, scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter in a 38-14 victory. After kicking off the season with losses to Clemson and NC State, the Demon Deacons have now won four in a row and the offense appears to be cooking. Wake is off this coming week, which means they’ll have two weeks to prepare for a visit to Chapel Hill on November 14th.

8. NC State Wolfpack (4-2, 4-2)

Believe it or not, the Wolfpack are currently one of the teams tied for fourth in the ACC right now. Granted, they lost to both of the teams they are tied with (UNC and Virginia Tech). NC State didn’t play this past week but they’ve got a tough Friday night matchup ahead of them this week against #11 Miami. The Wolfpack have a real opportunity to close the season out strong, though, with games against FSU, Syracuse, and Georgia Tech still left to be played.

9. Virginia Cavaliers (2-4, 2-4)

Virginia is a team that has felt like it’s better than its record indicates. Saturday’s 44-41 victory over North Carolina certainly helps validate that sentiment. The Tar Heels simply had no answer for the Cavalier offense, especially on the ground. A fake punt conversion with about two minutes left allowed Virginia to run out the clock and prevent a red-hot Sam Howell from getting the ball back with a chance to tie or win it. The Hoos will look to keep it rolling against Louisville this weekend.

10. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-4, 2-4)

Pitt looked like a team to potentially watch out for in the ACC after winning the first three games of the season. However, they’ve now lost four straight with the most recent defeat being a 45-3 beatdown from Notre Dame. The Panthers were off and thus had some time to regroup this past week. They’ll try to reverse their fortunes when they go on the road to face FSU this Saturday.

11. Louisville Cardinals (2-5, 1-5)

Yet another disappointing loss and the Cardinals are tied for dead last in the conference with Duke and Syracuse. They looked primed to potentially turn their season around after a dominating 48-16 win over FSU but they were unable to keep up with the offense of Virginia Tech this past week, falling 42-35. Louisville will play at Virginia on Saturday night.

12. Florida State Seminoles (2-4, 1-4)

Unsurprisingly, the Seminoles followed up their huge win over UNC with a stinker against Louisville. They had this past week off to stew on that loss and figure out how to reignite themselves. We’ll see if FSU can get things going in the right direction again as they take on Pitt this weekend.

13. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-5, 2-4)

Georgia Tech stuck around in the first half but ultimately didn’t have the offensive firepower to compete with Notre Dame, losing 31-13. The Yellow Jackets have now lost three straight, albeit each of those teams resides in the top four of these power rankings. They’ve got a bye this week before entering a more manageable portion of the schedule.

14. Duke Blue Devils (2-5, 1-5)

The Blue Devils took on Charlotte this past weekend and naturally were able to impose their will running the ball, notching 34 carries for 274 yards (8.1 ypc). Duke has been competitive in most of their games this season but Syracuse is the only ACC opponent they’ve been able to close out. They’ll try to add their second conference win against UNC on Saturday.

15. Syracuse Orange (1-6, 1-5)

Syracuse is the only team in the ACC that’s yet to win multiple games overall. After their only victory of the season against Georgia Tech, the Orange have now given up at least 38 points in four straight games (all losses). They’ll try to record win number two as they take on Boston College this Saturday afternoon.