The ACC has yet to do much in 2015 to prove they are anything better than the fifth best Power 5 conference, Georgia Tech included. The ACC is just 3-8 versus out of conference Power 5 matchups, excluding Notre Dame, as well as a handful of non-Power 5 losses. Forewarning: you won’t like where Tech is ranked.
ND is included in this ACC Power Ranking despite being an independent, as they play at least five games against ACC opponents each year. Also, as an ACC stan, it makes me feel better.
1. Notre Dame (4-0)
I wrote earlier that I wasn’t confident that DeShone Kizer could step into Malik Zaire’s shoes and produce, after Zaire was lost for the season in the second game. Well, I was a bit off. All he’s done in two games since is throw for 449 yards on a 69% completion, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. His backfield mate, C.J. Prosise has done even better, rushing for 600 yards on 74 carries (8.1 yards per rush) this year for 6 TDs. This team is definitely a contender for the College Football Playoff.
2. Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC)
FSU hasn’t quite looked dominating in games against USF and Boston College. Still, the Noles are only giving up an average of 10 points per game and Dalvin Cook is doing his best Devonta Freeman impression with 476 yards on 7.4 yards a rush and 3 TDs in three games.
3. Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC)
Clemson had a tough test against a desperate Louisville squad last Thursday, but now they face Notre Dame in a matchup of unbeaten, top 10 teams. Deshaun Watson has been extremely efficient and somewhat conservative early, but we’ll see if Dabo Swinney lets him off the leash against the Irish.
4. NC State (4-0)
The Wolfpack haven’t really played anyone but that’s okay. Jacoby Brissett and the NC State offense have put up a blistering 48 points per game pace, albeit against a C-USA opponent, two Sun Belt teams and an FCS team. NC State will now finish their season with eight straight ACC opponents so we will see if the fireworks continue.
5. Miami (3-0)
The Canes had a close call against the Nebraska Huskers, almost giving up a 23 point lead before winning in overtime. Al Golden almost certainly has the hottest seat of any undefeated club in the nation. Still, Miami has the talent to hang with anyone and will have to prove that with upcoming games against AAC favorite Cincinnati and then #11 FSU.
6. Duke (3-1, 1-0 ACC)
Duke’s sole loss was to a very stout Northwestern team that held the Devils to 10 points. They followed that up with a second win in as many years over the Jackets. David Cutcliffe’s team has a very good chance to reach nine wins for the third year in a row, as they won’t see a ranked team the rest of the regular season.
7. UNC (3-1)
North Carolina has rebounded nicely after a head-scratching loss in the a battle of the Carolinas with three easy wins, including one over the upstart Illinois Illini. UNC, however, may also have a quarterback controversy on their hands in the week leading up to a game with the Jackets. Marquise Williams has since been named the starter, but it’s never a good look to contemplate moving on from a four year starter.
8. Georgia Tech (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Paul Johnson was the first to tell us the team wasn’t looking all that impressive in training camp and maybe we should have listened. The offense just cannot function without adequate blocking on the perimeter and from the O-line. If the Jackets get that fixed in a hurry, they can salvage the season. If not? Gulp.
9. Virginia Tech (2-2)
The Hokies followed up a big victory over Power 5 in name only Purdue with a loss to East Carolina. It looks to be another up and down season for Frank Beamer’s team and unless Virginia Tech makes a late run, questions about Beamer’s future in Blacksburg will grow louder.
10. Pittsburgh (2-1)
I still have faith in Pittsburgh, despite losing 2014 ACC Player of the Year James Conner and falling to Iowa behind a game-winning 57 yard FG. There’s still a lot of talent there, and despite a change in quarterback, the Panthers can make a run in the Coastal.
11. Syracuse (3-1, 1-0 ACC)
The Orange succumbed to one-man wrecking crew Leonard Fournette in the Carrier Dome Saturday. There’s really no shame in losing to the 8th ranked team in the nation by just 10 points but I just couldn’t find a spot for them higher given their weak schedule so far and nine losses last season.
12. Boston College (3-1, 0-1 ACC)
Everything said about finding a spot for Syracuse could be repeated here. The Eagles rebounded from a shutout loss to FSU by edging a perennially pesky Northern Illinois team. If they can knock off the Duke Blue Devils this week, they’ll jump up a bit next Power Rankings edition.
13. Louisville (1-3, 0-1 ACC)
Giving Samford a beating doesn’t erase losses to a now unranked Auburn team and Houston from the Conference USA. It’s been a game of quarterback spin-the-wheel for Bobby Petrino’s club so far, although it looks like Lamar Jackson has seized control of the team.
14. Virginia (1-3)
These last two teams are in a class of their own and I don’t mean that endearingly. Too many people had to witness a dreadful 56-14 beating from the Boise State Broncos in Charlottesville.
15. Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
If this was the mid-30s or 40s, and defeating Army was the highlight of your season, that would be cause for celebration. Unfortunately, the Black Knights have only had one winning season since 1996 and Wake won’t have one this season either.