Believe it or not, the college football season is officially underway. As expected, more than a couple teams had to shake off some rust and playing with little to no fans was weird to say the least. However, we’re officially through week one (for the ACC that is) and it’s time to start looking ahead to the next slate of games.
There were four teams in the conference that didn’t play this past week (Boston College, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech) so it was a little more difficult to accurately rank every team. Then again, with all the abnormalities of this season, it was hard to even judge the games that were actually played. Without further ado, here are the week two ACC power rankings.
1) #1 Clemson Tigers
The Tigers took care of business as expected on Saturday, defeating Wake Forest, 37-13. Trevor Lawrence got going on his second drive of the game, capping it off with a two-yard TD run, and the Tigers never looked back. The Demon Deacons are a very different looking team than the one that won eight games a year ago, so it’s hard to draw too much from Clemson’s performance.
The Irish picked up their first ever football victory as a member of the ACC when they defeated Duke, 27-13. They did allow the Blue Devils to hang around for a while as it was a four-point game going into the fourth quarter. However, Notre Dame ultimately seized control with a six-minute touchdown drive that saw their lead increase to eleven. Heisman candidate Ian Book finished 19/31 with 263 yards passing, one touchdown, and one interception.
3) #12 North Carolina Tar Heels
The Carolina offense came out slower than expected against Syracuse in what was a sloppy affair for most of the afternoon. After scoring a touchdown on the first drive of the game, the Heels went scoreless for more than two quarters. A field goal late in the third quarter provided some sort of spark, though, as they went on to score touchdowns on each of their next three drives. As the game progressed, it felt like it was only a matter of time before Sam Howell and company started pouring it on and that’s exactly what happened. The Heels will get another tune-up game versus Charlotte this weekend before the schedule starts to ramp up.
4) #18 Louisville Cardinals
Although the Cardinals beat Western Kentucky by just two scores, they were in control for the entire second half as Micale Cunningham threw for 343 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Scott Satterfield’s first season was about as good as one could’ve hoped as he led the team to eight wins and a bowl victory over Mississippi State. He now has Louisville comfortably in the top half of the conference with a chance for a statement when #17 Miami comes to town on Saturday.
5) #20 Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech is the team that’s probably been most impacted by the coronavirus. Their supposed season opener with NC State got moved from Sept. 12th to Sept. 26th. Then, a few days ago, their Sept. 19th tilt with Virginia was postponed. Thus, the Hokies have yet to play and will have to wait another week to kick their season off, which is why they are staying put in our rankings.
6) #17 Miami Hurricanes
The Hurricanes saw UAB cut their lead to three midway through the third quarter, but back-to-back touchdown drives silenced any hopes of a comeback as Miami won, 31-14. The Hurricanes were up and down last season in what was Manny Diaz’s first stint as a head coach. They have a tough test ahead of them at Louisville on Saturday but it could be an opportunity for Diaz to get a marquee win and establish some consistency within the program.
7) #25 Pittsburgh Panthers
Pitt throttled Austin Peay on Saturday, 55-0. Though it might be hard to use this game as a measuring stick, it was by far the largest margin of victory any ACC team attained this past weekend. With a depleted Syracuse team coming into town, the Panthers might have to wait another week before their skill is truly tested.
Similarly to Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers didn’t play this past weekend nor do they have a game scheduled for this week. Bronco Mendenhall has a lot to replace from a team that won nine regular season games and the ACC Coastal Division a year ago. The Hoos will get things kicked off on Sept. 26th versus Duke.
The Blue Devils showed some fight in them against Notre Dame. Although the Irish took control in the fourth quarter, David Cutcliffe has to be encouraged by his team’s overall performance, especially considering the mediocre expectations coming into the season. Chase Brice avoided critical mistakes as he finished 20/37 for 259 yards passing on the day. Duke is set to square off with Boston College this Saturday.
10) NC State Wolfpack
NC State is another team that didn’t play this past weekend because of the coronavirus. After extending head coach Dave Doeren’s contract, the Wolfpack had a rough 2019 season, finishing 4-8 and missing out on a bowl for the first time in six years. Doeren will look to get things moving back in a positive direction this Saturday when State takes on Wake Forest at home.
Speaking of Wake, the Demon Deacons actually performed better than expected against Clemson, all things considered. Granted, the game was effectively over at halftime, but the Wake offense showed a little bit of life in the second half. They’ll look to carry over that momentum into their matchup with NC State this weekend.
Georgia Tech picked up a huge win over Florida State on Saturday, 16-13. The Yellow Jackets were abysmal in 2019, finishing 3-9 with rough losses to Temple and The Citadel. Now in his second season as head coach, Geoff Collins already has half as many ACC wins as he had all of last year and there’s finally some optimism surrounding the team. Things don’t get any easier for the Jackets as they take on #14 UCF this Saturday.
Boston College didn’t play this past weekend, but it’ll be interesting to see how competitive Jeff Hafley can make this team in his first year as head coach. The Eagles went 6-7 in 2019, ending the season with a blowout loss to Cincinnati. They’ll get their season kicked off this Saturday at Duke.
We knew it would take time for Mike Norvell to get this team adjusted to his system, but losing to a Yellow Jacket team that went 3-9 last year is a tough way to be introduced to the ACC. There’s still plenty of time to get things turned around but it appears that at least for the time being, the Seminoles are not much of a threat in the conference. They are off this week but they’ll try to flip the script on Sept. 26th when they go to Miami.
15) Syracuse Orange
Syracuse was already set to deal with some roster turnover heading into this season but the presence of the coronavirus, among other things, has led to multiple players opting out of the season, including the team’s top two running backs. The Orange’s ability to contain the explosive Carolina offense for the majority of the game was certainly encouraging, but this team will have a lot of kinks to work out throughout the course of the season. Syracuse goes on the road to take on Pittsburgh this coming weekend.