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ACC Football Power Rankings, Week 12: Analysis paralysis, plus Notre Dame and UNC get ready for marquee matchup

Despite the lack of actual game play, the ACC just went through one of the most bizarre weekends in long history. Things aren’t optimal this year, to put it mildly. We try to make sense of things — somewhat — in this week’s ACC Football Power Rankings.

 

No. 1 Notre Dame

The toughest remaining test on Notre Dame’s regular season schedule comes this Friday in Chapel Hill. Can Brian Kelly’s club preserve the undefeated season, before closing things out against Syracuse and Wake Forest?

Next game: at North Carolina, Friday (11/27), 3:30 p.m.

Record: 8-0

 

No. 2 Clemson

Clemson’s 73-7 blowout win over Syracuse took place five weeks ago, but it feels so much longer. That’s a central theme of 2020, I suppose. Regardless, since that win:

    • Clemson underwhelmed at home against Syracuse
    • Trevor Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19
    • Multiple defensive starters missed game time with injuries
    • Overtime loss on the road at Notre Dame, sans Lawrence
    • Florida State game postponed less than four hours before kickoff due to a positive COVID-19 result on Clemson’s roster
    • Dabo Swinney publicly blamed the postponement on Florida State’s administration, not COVID-19

Am I missing anything? Let’s just move on.

Next game: Pittsburgh, Saturday (11/28), 3:30 p.m.

Record: 7-1

 

No. 3 Miami

The Miami football program has been hit hard by COVID-19; due to positive tests and necessary quarantining, Miami’s late-season schedule was reworked. The Hurricanes won’t play against until Dec. 5 at Wake Forest.

Next game: at Wake Forest, Saturday (12/5) 

Record: 7-1

 

No. 4 North Carolina

Along with arguably the most dynamic backfield in the country, Sam Howell is one of only five FBS quarterbacks averaging at least 10 yards per pass attempts and 20+ touchdown passes. Admittedly, this is a muddied/small sample; however, the other names with this distinction are quite impressive. This group includes Heisman hopefuls Zach Wilson of BYU and Florida’s Kyle Trask, along with Matt Corral of Ole Miss and Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler.

Next game: Notre Dame, Friday (11/27), 3:30 p.m.

Record: 6-2

 

No. 5 NC State

It wasn’t pretty, for much of the game; however, a monster special teams play from Vi Jones preserved a pivotal win for NC State over Liberty. In a one-point game, Jones blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt with 1:18 remaining. The Wolfpack are now 2-0 this season in games decided by one point.

(Also: ACC teams, stop scheduling Liberty.)

Next game: at Syracuse, Saturday (11/28)

Record: 6-3

 

No. 6 Wake Forest

Due to an abundance of positive COVID-19 cases, quarantining of close contacts and injuries, Wake Forest didn’t play this weekend (Nov. 21) against Duke. That game will not be rescheduled. Here’s what remains for the Demon Deacons:

    • Dec. 5: Miami
    • Dec. 12: Notre Dame
    • Dec. 19: at Louisville

Next game: Miami, Saturday (12/5)

Record: 4-3

 

No. 7 Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh put a hurting on Virginia Tech last Saturday: Kenny Pickett threw for 404 yards as the Panthers won 47-14. Generally speaking: when Pickett plays, good things happen.

Pitt with Kenny Pickett this season:

  • Record: 5-2
  • Yards per play on offense: 5.6

Pitt without Kenny Picket this season:

  • Record: 0-2
  • Yards per play on offense: 4.07

Next up: at Clemson, Saturday (11/28), 3:30 p.m.

Record: 5-4

 

No. 8 Boston College

At 5-4, with a remodeled offense, there’s a case to be made for Jeff Hafley as the ACC Coach of the Year in 2020.

Next up: Louisville, Saturday (11/28), 4:00 p.m.

Record: 5-4

 

No. 9 Virginia Tech

Close defeats to Liberty and Miami were tough to swallow, but things really spiraled for Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh. Tech’s offense is pretty explosive when it can run the ball, but the defense (now without Bud Foster) and special teams continue to slump.

Next up: Clemson, Saturday (12/5)

Record: 4-5

 

No. 10 Virginia

Virginia defeated Abilene Christian on Saturday, 55-15. However, the real (unfortunate) story from that day was an injury suffered by star outside linebacker/team captain Charles Snowden.

Early in the game, Snowden had his leg rolled up on. According to a post from his father on Facebook, Snowden broke his ankle, which will require surgery. His college career is over. Snowden’s father also announced that his son is in good spirits. That’s nice to hear; however, the loss of Snowden is a serious bummer.

Not only has Snowden been an impact player for the Cavaliers — as Bronco Mendenhall reshaped the program. Snowden has been a presence in the community and on campus: showing up at other sporting events and becoming involved in the civil rights protest movement this summer, following the murder of George Floyd.

Next up: at Florida State, Saturday (11/28), 8:00 p.m.

Record: 4-4

 

No. 11 Louisville

Following two straight defeats and an opt out from star running back Javian Hawkins, Louisville wobbly season looked even more fraught. However, on Friday, the Cards reinforced the talent gap between them and Syracuse — with a 30-0 win.

Next up: at Boston College, Saturday (11/28), 4:00 p.m.

Record: 3-6

 

No. 12 Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech is set to play its first and only November game next Saturday against Duke. What a bizarre season.

Next up: Duke, Saturday (11/28), 7:00 p.m.

Record: 2-5

 

No. 13 Duke

In terms of wins and losses, this season has been a bit of a drag for Duke. But the Blue Devils have a chance to finish with a strong close: at Georgia Tech, then home to Florida State.

Next up: at Georgia Tech, Saturday (11/28), 7:00 p.m.

Record: 2-6

 

No. 14 Florida State

This type of stuff is so far down the road — relatively speaking — that it’s hard to visualize now, but it’ll be very interesting to see what Florida State looks like in 2021. Mike Norvell is absolutely coming back for a second season; FSU doesn’t have the money to move on from him, even if that move were deemed palatable.

Will Novell’s decision to lean into the youth movement in 2020 work out?

Next up: Virginia, Saturday (11/28), 8:00 p.m.

Record: 2-6

 

No. 15 Syracuse

Following its shutout lose at Louisville, Syracuse is now 1-8 on the season: only one of Syracuse’s eight defeats has been a one-possession game, too.

Next up: NC State, Saturday (11/28), 12:00 p.m.

Record: 1-8

 

Contributor Rankings

 Brian GeisingerJosh GrahamConsensus
1Notre DameNotre DameNotre Dame
2ClemsonClemsonClemson
3MiamiMiamiMiami
4North CarolinaNorth CarolinaNorth Carolina
5NC StateNC StateNC State
6Wake ForestWake ForestWake Forest
7VirginiaPittPitt
8Boston CollegeVirginia TechBoston College
9PittBoston CollegeVirginia Tech
10Virginia TechVirginiaVirginia
11LouisvilleGeorgia TechLouisville
12DukeLouisvilleGeorgia Tech
13Georgia TechFlorida StateDuke
14Florida StateDukeFlorida State
15SyracuseSyracuseSyracuse