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ACC Power Rankings
By Brian Smith,
ACC football has seen an upheaval at the top; Clemson is no longer the giant. Which teams are vying to replace the Tigers? Ironically, it begins with two traditional powers from the Sunshine State.
Here are the ACC power rankings with each team’s record, key players and/or statistics.
ACC Power Rankings
Records below are in order of overall and then ACC.
1) Florida State (4-0, 2-0)
The Seminoles are #5 in the AP Poll and own victories in a neutral site game versus #13 LSU, as well as winning at Clemson. It’s the best combination of wins for an ACC team. Quarterback Jordan Travis is nursing a left arm injury and he needs to get healthy.
Key Statistic: FSU scores 43.3 points per game, good for No. 8 in the nation.
2) Miami (4-0, 2-0)
The #18 Hurricanes look like a completely different team in comparing this year’s unit with last season’s team. Better offensive and defensive balance, which starts for both units along the trenches. Redshirt-junior quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is now in the Heisman race and for good reason. He's been one of college football's most clutch performers this season.
Key Statistic: The Canes #3 rushing defense allows only 48 yards on the ground.
3) Duke (4-0, 1-0)
It’s a great story through the first third of the college football season. #17 Duke is playing complementary football and making clutch plays. Now, can Duke do that again – just like it did versus Clemson – with College GameDay and Notre Dame coming to town this Saturday? Junior quarterback Riley Leonard and the Devils will be in the spotlight.
Key Statistics: The Blue Devils are plus-five in turnover margin, and Leonard is a big reason why because he has yet to throw an interception.
4) North Carolina (4-0, 1-0)
This #15 UNC team will go as far as the offense can take it. There’s ample offensive skill talent, and of course that begins with quarterback Drake Maye . Finding a more consistent rushing attack is important, and so will be fending off giving up big plays defensively as the tougher stretch of the schedule comes up.
Key Statistic: Maye is 13th in the country with 296.8 yards passing per game.
5) Louisville (4-0, 2-0)
The easiest ACC schedule is underway for the Cardinals. Can this unit full of Transfer Portal additions make a serious run at the ACC title? If it continues to score big that’s possible. Fifth-year quarterback Jack Plummer is one to watch as he possesses the size and arm strength to make big plays, including taking off with the football and hurting defenses with his legs.
Key Statistics: From the FBS level, Louisville running back Jawhar Jordan has a 9.6 yards per carry average, the highest for any running back ranking in the nation’s top 10 in total yards. Johnson has 478 yards and six rushing scores.
6) Syracuse (4-0, 0-0)
Experience at quarterback with 5th-year senior Garrett Shrader , one of the best run-pass signal callers in the ACC, is where discussion about the Quse begins. This defensive unit that also pressures the opposing team's signal caller with 13 sacks. Overall, it’s a team that not enough media members are discussing. Clemson, at home, is up next. That’s an intriguing matchup.
Key Statistic: That quarterback pressure is helping the secondary, as there are six Orange players with one interception.
7) Clemson (2-2, 0-2)
Not finishing drives, and allowing teams to capitalize on Clemson mistakes. That’s a good way to define how the Tigers are playing during key moments. Fumbles that lead to scoop and scores, missing a key block that squelches a drive, and just not capitalizing overall. Sophomore quarterback Cade Klubnik is showing signs of improvement, however.
Key Statistic: Despite the tough losses to Duke and Florida State, the Tigers are allowing only 79 yards rushing per game.
8) North Carolina State (3-1, 0-1)
The one missing ingredient would be variety. The Wolfpack does not hit big passing plays often enough. Considering it possesses former Virginia 6th-year quarterback Brennan Armstrong , it's unfortunate there are not more offensive playmakers. Younger skill talent needs to step up. The defense, overall, is doing a quality job. Not an easy team to knock off.
Key Statistic: North Carolina State is #17 nationally by giving up only 40 plays of 10 or more yards this season.
9) Georgia Tech (2-2, 1-1)
Passing the football, that’s something former Texas A&M redshirt-junior quarterback Haynes King and the Yellow Jackets now do well. With a quality rushing attack to complement the passing attack, GT is also displaying an offense with balance. How well the defense holds up could decide if this team goes to a bowl game.
Key Statistic: Four different Yellow Jackets with 11 or more receptions. This is a receiving corps that’s difficult to completely shut down.
10) Wake Forest (3-1, 0-1)
Losing Sam Hartman to Notre Dame hurt. The repercussion is current redshirt-junior quarterback Mitch Griffis with 5 interceptions. Solid defense for the Demon Deacons, but Griffis and the offense needs to be better against quality competition.
Key Statistic: Wake Forest’s defense is only allowing 22.8 points per contest.
11) Boston College (1-3, 0-2)
A team in transition with sophomore quarterback Thomas Castellanos taking over and showcasing big-time athleticism and arm strength, Boston College can be a streaky offense, and team. The defense needs to improve versus the run, but this team plays hard and that’s a start.
Key Statistics: Known as a runner first, Castellanos has 8 touchdown passes to just 2 interceptions. Combining his tremendous running skills with that ratio provides BC with a chance to pull a few upsets.
12) Pittsburgh (1-3, 0-1)
The up-and-down play of 6th-year quarterback Phil Jurkovec is a concern. There are not enough offensive skill players making big-time plays to help him out either. The defensive effort centers around being aggressive and attacking the quarterback. Pittsburgh still must be better on offense or this season is going off the rails.
Key Statistic: #11 in the nation, that’s Pittsburgh with 14 quarterback sacks.
13) Virginia Tech (1-3, 0-0)
A team attempting to find its offensive identity, the Hokies battle but simply do not possess the talent of years gone by. 5th-year Senior quarterback Grant Wells possesses the talent to play better, among many Hokies in the same category. It will be interesting to see which VT players leave their mark this season.
Key Statistics: Here are two stats that go hand-in-hand. The Hokies are #2 in the nation by allowing only 138.5 yards passing per game, but that’s likely because teams are running on them. Virginia Tech allows 212.5 yards rushing per contest, #125 in the nation.
14) Virginia (0-4, 0-1)
The roster is in flux and it shows. True freshman quarterback Anthony Colandrea leads the Cavaliers. It’s a true work in progress as he's sitting with 5 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Virginia did take NC ST down to the wire so that’s a beginning point.
Key Statistics: 5th-year senior receiver Malik Washington continues to play tremendous football with 28 receptions, 459 yards, 16.4 yards per catch, and 3 touchdowns.
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