C’mon. You really expect me to do this? How am I supposed to rank the ACC from 1-12 with any semblance of accuracy when you’ve got folks like BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski declaring that any team can win the league and no one’s rolling their eyes. Instead, we’re all nodding our heads in agreement (except N.C. State and UVA fans, of course).
Nevertheless, I’ll give it a shot. Sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up, man up, keep chopping wood and other assorted cliches.
Just remember I do this for you, dear reader. Because I’m just that kind of guy.
And go easy on me when these rankings look ridiculous a week from now.
A reminder about the methodology in this poll. I’m basing this on a combination of what teams have accomplished on the field and how I think they’d fare if they played in hypothetical neutral field matchups this week. Thus, a 3-1 Duke team would still be ranked behind 2-2
1) Virginia Tech (4-1 overall, 2-0 ACC) Last Week: No. 2
I’m still not convinced the Hokies are the class of the league, but my doubts are decreasing about Virginia Tech with each passing week and they’re growing about almost everyone else. The Blackshirts may not reside in Lincoln anymore, but putting up 35 points on the Huskers was still a significant accomplishment. With a home game against Western Kentucky this weekend, the Hokies might just hold on to the top spot for two straight weeks. I think.
2) Georgia Tech (3-1 overall, 1-1 ACC) Last Week: No. 4
I’m not sure what it says when the best strategy to moving up in the power poll is to be idle, as the Yellow Jackets were last week. That rout of Missisisippi State still sticks with me, though, as does that narrow defeat in Blacksburg. Next up is a tough home game against Duke. Seriously.
3) Maryland (4-1 overall, 1-0 ACC) Last Week: No. 6
I’m still trying to wrap up my head around the fact that this is the same team that lost at Middle Tennesee State. But the facts are facts, and the Terrapins have beaten two ranked opponents since then and put up over 50 on another. College football lives in the present and right now Maryland is one of the top teams in the ACC.
4) North Carolina (3-1 overall, 1-1 ACC) Last Week: No. 9
Is this too big of a jump for the Tar Heels? Perhaps. But bear in mind I moved UNC down so much last week because I assumed, like a lot of people, that the loss of T.J. Yates would have catastrophic effects. Apparently we were wrong. Somewhat lost in the adulation over Cam Sexton’s performance was the way UNC’s D tightened up, yielding just 49 yards in rushing to Miami over the final three quarters after getting gashed for 86 yards in the first 15 minutes.
5) Wake Forest (3-1 overall, 1-0 ACC) Last Week No. 1
You could also argue that it’s too harsh to move the Demon Deacons down this much after one loss. But I’m afraid the Midshipmen have exposed a problem that may not be so easily fixable for Wake – the Demon Deacons can’t run the ball. Wake has until Oct. 9 to get things working on the ground. That’s when a wounded Clemson team comes to town.
6) Miami (2-2 overall, 0-1 ACC) Last Week: No. 5
On the other hand, the Hurricanes’ problem – youth – should resolve itself with each passing week. For now, I’d like to see the Miami coaches give Robert Marve a bit more freedom. Twenty-seven passing attempts is nice, but 135 yards on 18 completions usually won’t cut it.
7) Clemson (3-2 overall, 1-1 ACC) Last Week: No. 3
If I give more weight to the neutral field hypothetical, I’d probably have the Tigers higher. The atmosphere is tense and unsettled right now in Death Valley that I think it will do the team – and Cullen Harper in particular – some good to get out on the road. Too bad that next roadtrip is to Wake Forest, which is still smarting after being sunk by Navy.
8) Florida State (3-1 overall, 0-1 ACC) Last Week: No. 8
This is where I said to myself: “You know, maybe this league is pretty good.” I like the Seminole and I think they may have – finally – discovered something by giving the ball repeatedly to Antone Smith against Colorado. The fact they’re still at No. 8 is proof that the middle of this league is pretty darned deep. Unfortunately, the rest of the country doesn’t seem to care about how strong the ACC’s midsection is.
9) Boston College (3-1 overall, 0-1 ACC) Last Week: No. 7
Why move the Eagles down two spots after a win? First, Clemson’s fall had to knock someone down. Second, running all over Rhode Island didn’t really show me much, except that BC’s not very comfortable with its passing attack. The Eagles do appear to have found something in true freshman RB Montel Harris, who went over the century mark for the second straight week.
10) Duke (3-1 overall, 1-0 ACC) Last Week: No. 10
I thought about moving the Blue Devils up in the poll. I really did. Their win over Navy is looking more impressive with each passing week, as is their narrow loss to Northwestern. But I can’t quite shake off the last decade that quickly. And the win over UVA may not mean much if the Cavaliers continue to look so hapless.
11) N.C. State (2-3 overall, 0-1 ACC) Last Week: No. 11
Speaking of hapless, that was a pretty sorry performance turned in by the Wolfpack, injuries or no injuries. Still, I’d like to see what State could do if QB Russell Wilson could stay healthy for a few weeks in a row. If he can go this Saturday, and if star LB Nate Irving returns – we’ll find out more on Thursday – then the Wolfpack has a shot when it hosts BC.
When does a team get beat 41-10 and still move up in the poll? When the team it passes is …
12) Virginia (1-3 overall, 0-1 ACC) Last Week: No. 12
I’m speechless. I really am. I know there’s been attrition through suspensions, injuries, academics, etc. But I’m still dumbfounded at how it got this bad, this fast in Charlottesville. It’ll be interesting to see where UVA fans direct their displeasure, given the hefty size of Al Groh’s buyout. I’m betting that a few people put that sign ban to the test this Saturday against Maryland