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ACC Football Power Rankings Week 4: N’Kosi Perry arrives, VT slips, UNC tries to escape the basement

Here’s a look at our Week 4 ACC Football Power Rankings. After a full slate of ACC games, which included some shaky moments for the Atlantic Division, David Glenn, Josh Graham and myself weigh in on the league: 1-14, starting with Clemson.

This was also an exciting week for quarterback play in the league, which included N’Kosi Perry perhaps forcing a changing of the guard at the position for Miami.


No. 1 Clemson

In his first ACC contest, Trevor Lawerence threw for a career-high four touchdown passes, including another one to freshman wideout Justyn Ross, who has three touchdown receptions (tied for third most in the ACC) on only six catches so far this season (172 yards). Oh, and Travis Etienne was a beast again, too: 75 rush yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus.

Next up: Syracuse


No. 2 Miami

Folks…after two years of hype, welcome to the N’Kosi Perry Show. Perry replaced Malik Rosier at quarterback on the team’s third series; immediately, he started to deal, completing 12 of his first 13 passes for 170 yards and two touchdown. Perry, who finished the day 17-of-25 (68 percent) for 224 yards and three touchdowns in Miami’s 31-17 win over FIU, looked in rhythm with Mike Harley, who caught all seven of his targets. Miami’s offensive line gave him time to throw and he picked FIU apart.

Next up: North Carolina (Thursday)


No. 3 NC State

Under Dave Doeren, NC State continued to take care of business on the road against the spread. A six-point favorite, the Pack won 37-20 at Marshall — the same score as when these same two teams met a year ago in Raleigh. The offense continued to excel; behind Ryan Finley and Kelvin Harmon (104 receiving yards per game in 2018), NC State converted 9-of-16 third-down plays. For the season, State has converted nearly 59 percent of its third-down attempts. (Finley: 70.6 completion percentage on third-down pass attempts.)

Next up: Virginia


No. 4 Duke

After back-to-back road wins over Power 5 opponents, Duke returned home and took care of business in the Bull City Classic — winning 55-13 over crosstown foe NC Central. Duke ran the ball 59 times for 372 yards, but Quentin Harris — in place of Daniel Jonesthrew for 202 yards (7.5 per attempt), three touchdowns and no interceptions. Harris is one of nine FBS quarterbacks this season with 50+ pass attempts and zero interceptions.

Next up: Virginia Tech


No. 5 Syracuse

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Eric Dungey returned from an injury and led another explosive offensive performance for Syracuse. The Orange, which rank No. 9 in the FBS in offensive plays per game (84), hung 51 points on UConn in a blowout home victory. Dungey completed nearly 78 percent of his passes and accounted for five touchdowns — which gives him 13 total on the season.

Next up: at Clemson


No. 6 Boston College

So, um, guys, what happened? Yes, BC has a legit gripe with the refs after what looks like a big missed call, but this game was so much more than #KneeGate. Boston College’s defense was mostly fine (372 total yards, two turnovers), but he offense: woof. Anthony Brown, last week’s ACC Quarterback of the Week, threw for just 96 yards on 13-of-27 passing (3.6 yards per attempt) and four interceptions. (Dear god, divert your eyes.)

Next up: Temple

No. 7 Virginia Tech

In one of the biggest upsets of the college football season, No. 13 Virginia Tech (a 28.5 point-favorite) lost on the road to Old Dominion. Making matters worse, quarterback Josh Jackson injured his ankle against ODU and was unable to return. That adds intrigue to what has quickly become a rather important road contest for VT in Durham next Saturday.

Next up: at Duke


No. 8 Wake Forest

In the home loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, things got outta hand for Wake Forest in the second half. Wake allowed 56 points, including 21 in the in third quarter, but part of its problem: too many field goal attempts early on. In several first-half leverage situations — fourth-and-manageable, in Notre Dame territory — Wake settled for sub-40 yard field goal attempts. If you’re hosting a top-10, you shouldn’t take the super conservative approach here: go for it, increase the variance. Also, this happened:

Next up: Rice


No. 9 Virginia

Led by Juan Thornhill, Virginia’s defense dominated Louisville in the program’s ACC opener: 214 total yards, three turnovers and just three total points allowed. However, the man who stole the show was quarterback Bryce Perkins who, against the blitz, roasted the Cards — and made a few highlights along the way, too.

*Stugotz voice* “How ’bout that?!”

Next up: at NC State


No. 10 Florida State

After a week of panic, Florida State quietly took care of business on Saturday against Rod Carey and Northern Illinois — winning by 18 in easily the best offensive performance of the Willie Taggart era. It was a so-so performance on the ground, but Deondre Francois lit it up through the air: 23-of-31 for 352 yards and two touchdowns. Still, some problems lurk, especially on the offensive line.

Next up: at Louisville


No. 11 Georgia Tech

Clemson blitzed Georgia Tech — literally and figuratively — winning 49-21 in Atlanta. It could’ve been a lot uglier, though; Georgia Tech fumbled the ball seven times, including several on the center-quarterback exchange. The Yellow Jackets, however, recovered all but one of those fumbles, which is rather fortunate. Georgia Tech was held to just 146 rushing yards, too. (Yikes)

Next up: Bowling Green State

No. 12 Louisville

Louisville’s performance against Virginia summed up in one photo:

(Where art thou, Lamar Jackson?)

Next up: Florida State


No. 13 Pitt

Pitt missed a big opportunity — a week after a win over Georgia Tech — on the road in Chapel Hill. UNC owns Pitt in ACC play as the Panthers allowed nearly 500 yards of total offense. Things get far more challenging next week, too: Pitt goes on the road to face UCF.

Next up: at Central Florida


No. 14 North Carolina

Going back to the 2017 season, UNC is 2-1 in its last three ACC games — with both wins coming against Pitt. After Saturday’s 38-35 win, the Tar heels are now 6-0 against the Panther since Pitt joined the ACC back in 2013. North Carolina’s offense looked great, and Nathan Elliott put up a nice stat line, but Tomon Fox had a monster game on defense.

Next up: at Miami (Thursday)


Contributor Rankings

 David GlennBrian GeisingerJosh GrahamConsensus
2MiamiMiamiNC StateMiami
3NC StateNC StateDukeNC State
5SyracuseVirginia TechSyracuseSyracuse
6Boston CollegeSyracuseBoston CollegeBoston College
7Wake ForestBoston CollegeVirginia TechVirginia Tech
8Virginia TechWake ForestVirginiaWake Forest
9VirginiaVirginiaWake ForestVirginia
10Florida StateFlorida StatePittFlorida State
11UNCLouisvilleGeorgia TechGeorgia Tech
12Georgia TechGeorgia TechLouisvilleLouisville
13PittUNCFlorida StatePitt