Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision. Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment. Here it goes for the week between Weeks 3 and 3:
- Louisville. The Clemson win at Auburn was nice, but what Louisville did to Florida State was staggering. The Confidential actually expected the Cardinals to win, but to win so convincingly was a surprise. Again, Lamar Jackson is the real deal. Louisville needs to handle Marshall and not look forward to the game at Clemson in two weeks.
- Clemson. Clemson finally started looking like Clemson. Unfortunately, it was against an FCS opponent. Clemson needs to get it together ASAP against an improved Georgia Tech squad that is 3-0 with wins over Boston College and Vanderbilt. If Clemson is looking ahead to Louisville, there could be trouble.
- Florida State. Logically, Florida State should drop substantially given that they have one loss, while a few ACC teams are still undefeated. But the win against Ole Miss is still better than the wins that Miami< Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest have put up. As bad as Louisville made the Seminoles look, we’ll leave them at #3. They travel to South Florida this week, the second straight week of playing a team on the road that just beat Syracuse on the road.
- Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are 3-0, with wins over Boston College and Vanderbilt. Nobody else below them in these standings has two wins over P5 teams (Louisville does, though). If Georgia Tech can beat Clemson, they will be the early favorites in the Coastal.
- Miami. Miami continues to win and is starting to make some noise about being an ACC contender. The schedule strength is going to ramp up and we’ll learn a lot in two weeks when the Hurricanes make their ACC debut this year against Georgia Tech.
- Wake Forest. Don’t look now, but the Demon Deacons are 3-0, and their next three opponents are @ Indiana, @ NC State, and home against Syracuse. They still have Boston College, Army, and Virginia on the schedule. It is not impossible for them to sweep all of these games en route to a 9-3 season, right? We’ll see. But better to be 3-0 than what the teams below have.
- Virginia Tech. At 2-1, the Hokies have wins over Liberty and Boston College. The latter was impressive, given that the Eagles defense is ordinarily quite stout and 49 points was surprising. Still, it is “just” Boston College, so the Hokies are plugged in at #7.
- Pittsburgh. At 2-0, Pitt had a real chance to make its mark against an Oklahoma State team that had lost to Central Michigan. But the Panthers defense was not strong, allowing 45 points in a 45-38 loss. For Pitt, this puts them squarely in the middle of these standings, and the team on their heels is, no pun intended, the Tar Heels–Pitt’s next opponent.
- North Carolina. The Tar Heels went to Illinois and won and then held serve against James Madison. They get to host Pitt this week to battle for a more significant move up these standings.
- NC State. NC State bounced back from the East Carolina loss to beat Old Dominion 49-22. This puts them at 2-1 and the slight edge over what is likely a “better” Notre Dame team. Of course, the Fighting Irish come to town on October 8, so this edge will have to be earned shortly. Next up is Wake Forest, though.
- Notre Dame. Notre Dame is 1-2, having lost to an improved Texas team and a solid Michigan State team. Of the 1-2 teams, these are the two most impressive losses (so far, anyway). Duke is up next.
- Boston College. Boston College is 1-2, like Syracuse. B.C.’s losses were to 2-1 Virginia Tech and 3-0 Georgia Tech. The Eagles have a win over UMass, and FBS opponent. This gives them the slight edge over Syracuse (and Duke). Next up are Wagner and Buffalo–two good chances for wins.
- Syracuse. The Orange “D” was atrocious against Louisville and not much better against South Florida. After jumping out to a 17-0 lead, the Orange stopped moving the ball and stopped stopping the movement of the ball. As Louisville and South Florida are better opponents than Wake Forest and Northwestern, Syracuse gets a clear edge over Duke for the #13 spot. The FCS opponents favor Syracuse slightly too. Up next, a chance for a win against similarly-talented UConn, albeit on the road.
- Duke. Look, losing to Wake Forest at home is not the end of the world, but losing to a Northwestern team with losses to West Michigan and Illinois State is not great. 1-2 keeps them out of the basement, but Duke is trending down. And Notre Dame is up next.
- Virginia. The only 0-3 team–Virginia looked better against Oregon than Richmond, and looked much better against UConn. Perhaps Virginia can pull out a few victories this year after all? Well, with Central Michigan up next, you would think MAC opponent, but the Chippewas beat Oklahoma State on the road, which Pitt could not do. We’ll see.
So, what do you think? Should we have dropped Florida State farther? Any other errors in your opinion?