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 week 13:
- Clemson 11-1. Clemson destroyed rival South Carolina to end up 11-1 and just one game away from a playoffs appearance. Virginia Tech is on a bit of a roll–should be quite a matchup. Next up: Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.
- Louisville 9-3. The Cardinals have not had a second half with nearly as much impressiveness as the first half of the season. The losses to Clemson and Houston can be excused, but the close games against Duke and Virginia (a combined 6-18) raised some questions. The loss to rival Kentucky is inexcusable. At the same time, it is hard to drop Louisville below a Florida State team it crushed and a Virginia Tech team that lost to 4-8 Syracuse. In other words, #2 by default. Next up: A nice bowl game.
- Florida State 9-3. The Seminoles took care of Florida handily to claim state-wide domination for yet another season. It would be interesting to see if Louisville could beat Florida State this Saturday, but, alas, they played at Louisville destroyed the Seminoles in a way that just cannot justify FSU leapfrogging a Louisville team with the same record. Next up: a nice bowl game.
- Virginia Tech 9-3. The Hokies arguably deserve the #2 nod by beating Virginia to win the Coastal. But Virginia Tech lost to Syracuse–easily the worst loss among the three 9-3 teams. Also, Virginia Tech avoided the top 3 teams in these standings–something that the top 3 teams were unable to do (Clemson went 2-0, Louisville 1-1, FSU 0-2). The Hokies get their chance to prove themselves with the Championship Game against Clemson. Next up: Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
- Pitt 8-4. There are four Coastal teams at 8-4. Of these, Pitt played the toughest OOC schedule, with 10-2 Penn State and 9-2 Oklahoma State. They split those games. They lost to UNC by 1, to Va Tech by 3, and the only real blowout loss was to Miami. They also are the only team to beat Clemson. There are many arguments to be made here, but we’ll go with Pitt at #5. Next up: a decent bowl game.
- North Carolina 8-4. The Tar Heels beat Miami, Pitt, and Georgia Tech–which ordinarily should mean an easy slotting in at #5. But it is hard to get by losses to Duke and NC State, a combined 10-14. Again, a decent argument for #5. Next up: a decent bowl game.
- Miami 8-4. Miami beat Pitt badly. Miami also beat Georgia Tech. But the overall weak OOC schedule is likely what made Miami 8-4, and that includes a loss to one of the worst Notre Dame teams in recent history. Still, a good year for the Hurricanes to build off of… with the other three losses coming to teams with a combined record of 26-10. Next up: a decent bowl game.
- Georgia Tech 8-4. Georgia Tech beat rival Georgia to get to 8-4, a very nice rebound year for the Yellow Jackets. No dreadful losses. A nice win over Virginia Tech. Having lost to all three 8-4 teams, they get stuck with the #8 slot. Next up: a decent bowl game.
- NC State 6-6. NC State’s chances of a bowl game required a win at North Carolina. And they got it. Coupled with a win over Wake Forest, NC State easily gets the #9 slot. Next up: a bowl game.
- Wake Forest 6-6. Losses to Army and Boston College take some of the glee out of this otherwise good season for the Demon Deacons. Next up: a bowl game.
- Boston College 6-6. The Eagles won two conference road games…NC State and Wake Forest to get to 6 wins and bowl eligibility. With a super soft OOC schedule, they did what they needed to do. Despite losing to Syracuse, B.C. gets the extra practices and bowl swag. It is what it is. Next up: a bowl game.
- Duke 4-8. Duke’s loss to Miami ended the season on a sour note at 4-8. Duke did beat Notre Dame though. Next up: 2017.
- Notre Dame 4-8. Notre Dame’s loss to USC ended the season on a sour note at 4-8. Notre Dame did beat Syracuse though. Next up: 2017.
- Syracuse 4-8. Syracuse’s loss to Pitt was exciting, but ended the season on a sour note at 4-8. Syracuse did do amazing things on offense, even in the finale with its backup QB and an injured squad. Next up: 2017.
- Virginia 2-10. After beginning the season with a loss to in-state Richmond, the Wahoos finished the season with a loss to in-state rival Virginia Tech. The latter was no surprise. Next up: 2017.
So, what do you think? How would you change these rankings?