ACC Football Power Rankings, Week 5: Clemson and Miami gear up, plus more on NC State’s Devin Leary

With a little moving and shaking atop this week’s ACC Football Power Rankings, there’s plenty to address. We’re also set for a fun collision course matchup between Clemson and Miami next Saturday.


No. 1 Clemson

The Tigers didn’t have their A-game vs. Virginia, but Clemson’s stars still provided plenty of spark for an 18-point win. Trevor Lawrence completed 25-of-38 passes for 329 yards (8.7 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns. This marked the fifth time in Lawrence’s career he’s put together a game with 300+ passing yards, 3+ touchdowns and no interceptions.

Not to be outdone, though, Travis Etienne ripped off 187 yards from scrimmage (9.8 yards per touch) and two touchdowns. This dude is so good; it’s kinda crazy that he’s still in college.

Next game: Miami, Saturday (10/10), 7:30 p.m.

Record: 3-0


No. 2 Notre Dame

Things are going great at Notre Dame! Last Monday, the school announced that 18 more players tested positive for COVID-19; at the time, 25 players were in isolation, with 14 in quarantine.

Next game: Florida State, Saturday (10/10), 7:00 p.m.

Record: 2-0


No. 3 Miami

Ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll, Miami is flying high with a 3-0 start; however, the next litmus test is far more daunting. Following an open weekend, the road matchup with Clemson provides a serious statement opportunity for the Hurricanes. Can D’Eriq King and Miami’s efficient offense put up points against Clemson’s top 10 defense?

Miami hasn’t beaten Clemson since 2010.

Next game: at Clemson, Saturday (10/10), 7:30 p.m.

Record: 3-0


No. 4 North Carolina

After three weeks off, even in victory, UNC looked a little rusty (10 penalties) on the road against Boston College. However, the backfield of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams excelled: the two backs combined for 240 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.

Next game: Virginia Tech, Saturday (10/10), 12:00 p.m.

Record: 2-0


No. 5 Virginia Tech

The Hokies opened their 2020 schedule by rushing for 314 yards (7.7 yards per carry) and three touchdowns against NC State. One week later, Virginia Tech followed that up with 324 rushing yards (6.5 yards per carry) and four touchdowns in a win over Duke.

Kansas transfer Khalil Herbert stole the show, too.

In each of those wins, Virginia Tech’s defense held Triangle teams to under four yards per carry.

Next game: at North Carolina, Saturday (10/10), 12:00 p.m.

Record: 2-0


No. 6 Pittsburgh

Kenny Pickett went nuts against NC State — 411 passing yards (10.5 yards per attempt) — but this game turned into more of a QB duel than the Panthers budgeted for. Pitt’s pass rush failed to generate enough pressure on Devin Leary — just two sacks.

After recording 26 combined tackles for loss in consecutive wins over Syracuse and Louisville, Pitt posted just five tackles for loss in Saturday’s last-minute defeat.

Next game: at Boston College, Saturday (10/10), 4:00 p.m. 

Record: 3-1


No. 7 Louisville

Malik Cunningham exited the loss at Pittsburgh two weeks ago with a scary-looking head injury. However, the quarterback returned to practice last week; coach Scott Satterfield says Cunningham is good to go.

Next game: at Georgia Tech, Friday (10/9), 7:00 p.m.

Record: 1-2


No. 8 Virginia

Look, when Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne go nuts, what can you do? Virginia played well at Clemson; quarterback Brennan Armstrong threw two interceptions, but was still fairly prolific.

Armstrong went 24-of-43 through the air for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 89 yards.

Next game: NC State, Saturday (10/10), 12:00 p.m.

Record: 1-1


No. 9 NC State

Devin Leary was all that and a bag of chips on Saturday — throwing for 336 yards and four touchdowns in the upset over Pitt, including the game-winning strike to Emeka Emezie.

Led by Emezie, five different NC State receivers caught 3+ passes in this game.

Also, small sample sizes and context-free stats can make for some funny, noisy side-by-side comparisons. However, it’s sort of interesting to see Sam Howell and Leary stacked up.

Next game: at Virginia, Saturday (10/10), 12:00 p.m.

Record: 2-1


No. 10 Boston College

Despite 12 penalties for 110 yards vs. UNC, Boston College was a 2-point conversation away from tying things up with 45 seconds left in regulation.

Next game: Pitt, Saturday (10/10), 4:00 p.m.

Record: 2-1


No. 11 Syracuse

Syracuse lost two road games to start the season — North Carolina and Pittsburgh — by a combined 35 points. Since then, though, things are looking up: Syracuse got an open week following a 17-point win over Georgia Tech. Now, the Orange can look to even out their record with a home matchup against slumping Duke.

Next game: Duke, Saturday (10/10), 12:30 p.m.

Record: 1-2


No. 12 Wake Forest

During Wake Forest’s blowout win over Campbell, Kenneth Walker ripped off his second straight 100-yard rushing performance. However, this was Christian Beal-Smith’s game.

CBS, the other half of Wake’s backfield, ran for 130 yards on a career-high 20 carries and three touchdowns.

Next game: Virginia, Saturday (10/17)

Record: 1-2


No. 13 Georgia Tech

Jeff Sims will be a serious player over the next few years for Georgia Tech, but the rookie quarterback has tossed eight interceptions in three games and ranks 13th in the ACC in ESPN’s QBR metric.

Next game: Louisville, Friday (10/9), 7:00 p.m. 

Record: 1-2


No. 14 Florida State

A win’s a win, right? Florida State trailed Jacksonville State with under six minutes to play in the third quarter — before a touchdown run from Lawrance Toafili gave FSU the lead for good.

Let’s just move on.

Next game: at North Carolina, Saturday (10/10), 7:00 p.m. 

Record: 1-2


No. 15 Duke

Duke needs a week off: four weeks, four defeats. The Blue Devils did some good things on the road vs. Virginia Tech, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

David Cutcliffe’s club must hit the road for two straight road games, too: Syracuse (10/10) and NC State (10/17).

Next game: at Syracuse, Saturday (10/10), 12:30 p.m.

Record: 0-4


Contributor Rankings

Brian GeisingerJosh GrahamConsensus
2Notre DameNotre DameNotre Dame
4North CarolinaNorth CarolinaNorth Carolina
5Virginia TechVirginia TechVirginia Tech
8LouisvilleNC StateVirginia
9NC StateBoston CollegeNC State
10Boston CollegeVirginiaBoston College
11Wake ForestSyracuseSyracuse
12SyracuseGeorgia TechWake Forest
13Georgia TechWake ForestGeorgia Tech
14Florida StateFlorida StateFlorida State


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