The Confidential

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ACC Football Rankings: Week 8

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 8:

  1. Clemson 7-0.  Beating opponents is good, but Clemson has certainly kept it close and interesting all season long.  Live by the sword, die by the sword.  If you are going to do that, someone will trip you up eventually.  Two weeks to prepare for Florida State in another epic battle.
  2. Louisville 5-1. The Cardinals got a week off to rest and prepare for Duke, but looked like it never bothered to wake up.  While Duke’s defense may be stout, Louisville was still expected to score a bit more than 24 points.  A win is a win.  Next up: North Carolina State, who is not far down these standings at the moment.
  3. Florida State 5-2.  Look whose back!  After a win over a Wake Forest team that seems to be very real, especially on defense, the Seminoles are 5-2.  Like Clemson, FSU gets two weeks to prepare for their matchup.
  4. NC State 4-2.  NC State came a 33-yard field goal away from beating Clemson.  A loss in overtime shows that North Carolina State is legitimate.  Still a lot of work to do to keep and maintain what may be a temporary spot at #4.  Next up is a trip to Louisville.
  5. Wake Forest 5-2.  Yes, that is 5 straight Atlantic teams at the top of the standings.  Who else?  Wake Forest has lost to two teams–5-2 Florida State and 4-2 NC State.  Va Tech lost to Syracuse, but Wake Forest beat them.  Hard to NOT put the Demon Deacons here.  Two weeks to prepare for Army and bowl eligibility that comes with a win there.
  6. Virginia Tech 4-2. Syracuse is not yet a good team.  And they handled Virginia Tech at home.  While the Hokies were in the drivers’ seat in the Coastal entering this game, everything is a mess now.  Next up–5 days to prepare for Miami.
  7. North Carolina 5-2. The Tar Heels did fine at Miami to improve to 5-2.  When you start comparing losses, it is hard to put North Carolina up higher just yet.  The Coastal will sort itself out over time.  Next up is Virginia and a chance to get bowl eligibility already.
  8. Miami 4-2.  With a chance to put away the ghost of mediocre coaches past, Miami has now lost two straight.  While the talent at Florida State and North Carolina speaks for itself, Miami is again looking at a tough slate to get to 8 or 9 wins.  5 days to prepare for a trip to Virginia Tech.  Then a trip to Notre Dame, who may be fighting for bowl eligibility.  And so on.
  9. Pittsburgh 5-2.  After beating Virginia, Pitt is quietly 5-2.  The wins are OK–Penn State, Georgia Tech, etc.  But the schedule gets much tougher in the second half: Virginia Tech, @Miami, @ Clemson, Duke, Syracuse.  A bowl is likely, obviously, but can Pitt get that far beyond 6 wins?
  10. Georgia Tech 4-3.  As expected, Georgia Tech beat Georgia Southern to get to 4-3.  And now they get 14 days to prepare for Duke.  At least the Georgia game at the end of the season looks more winnable.
  11. Duke 3-4.  Who knows what Duke is?  They lost to Louisville, but played them very very well.  It is all Coastal down the stretch and it could get ugly.  But if they play like they played Louisville, maybe not.  Next up is a trip to Georgia Tech.
  12. Boston College 3-3.  Boston College used to be about defense, but they have been outscored 122-24 in conference play this year.  They have several more days to prepare for Syracuse.
  13. Syracuse 3-4.  “With hot Va Tech coming to town, it could get that much more unlikely that much faster.  Perhaps worse Syracuse teams have pulled upsets, but it is what it is.”  That what why Syracuse was #15 last week.  Instead of continuing to fade, Syracuse pulled one of its biggest upsets in history and earned its way a few spots up the standings.  Next up is Boston College and a chance to get back to .500.
  14. Virginia 2-4.  With only two wins, Virginia is stuck at #14.  And it is hard to find another win on the schedule.  Road trips to Wake Forest and the two Techs.  Louisville and Miami are still due to come to town.  Next up, rival North Carolina visits.
  15. Notre Dame 2-5.  Well, Notre Dame is in deep trouble now.  The only ACC team with 5 losses.  Sure, Army and Navy are still on the schedule, which should mean 4 wins.  But how can the Fighting Irish even get to 6 wins on a season with 8 home games and a neutral site game?  While Notre Dame beat Syracuse, the only other win was Nevada.  Syracuse’s wins over Virginia Tech and UConn are actually better, despite the head-to-head.

So, what do you think?  How would you change these rankings?

ACC Football Stockwatch: Buy, Sell, and Hold

After six weeks, the ACC is down to one undefeated team (Clemson).  A bunch of teams are battling to be in the top half of the conference.  If these teams were stock, who are you buying, selling, and holding?  Here are a few teams for each category.


Notre Dame.  What?  At 1-3, things were worrisome.  Splitting NC State and Syracuse means 2-4.  But will Notre Dame finish 4-8?  Probably not.  With 5 home games left, there is plenty of time to right the ship.  A wounded and vulnerable Stanford team comes to town next, with Army and Navy looming.  A bowl might be tough, however, as the remaining schedule is Miami (H), Virginia Tech (H), and disappointing Southern Cal (A).  Still, things should get better, right?  A buy low opportunity.

Louisville.  At 4-1, Louisville has scored 290 points.  Can they get better?  Well, maybe not better… but they have gotten past the Florida State/Clemson part of the schedule.  The only highly ranked team left on the schedule is Houston, who just lost to Navy.  The remaining six teams certainly could pull an upset, as is the nature of the game.  But they would be major upsets: Duke, NC State, Boston College, Virginia, Wake Forest, Kentucky.  The college football scoring record is 723 points (Florida State in 14 games).  Louisville is on pace to score 754 if they play 13 games (which seems quite likely).


Syracuse.  Look, Dino Babers may have Syracuse on the right track.  But, like the rebuilds at other schools, the dividends will not be paying off this year.  Absent an upset, the only real winnable game left on the schedule is Boston College–a road game where B.C. will have 15 days to prepare.  2-10 or 3-9 is far from out of the question.

Boston College.  At 3-3, B.C. would need a 3-3 finish to go bowling. They host Syracuse and UConn, which is nice.  But where does that sixth win come from?  A trip to NC State–possible.  Louisville?  Um, no.  A trip to Florida State?  Unlikely.  A trip to Wake Forest?  See above regarding the Demon Deacons.  And if Syracuse is going to win ANY game this year, it is the B.C. game.  Meanwhile, UConn will be VERY interested and motivated to beat B.C.  A bowl is looking unlikely, even with one of the softest OOC schedules possible.


Wake Forest.  At 5-1, Wake Forest is in the drivers seat for a bowl game, and possibly a very good bowl game.  The Demon Deacons still have games with Virginia, Army, and Boston College.  Even assuming losses to Florida State, Louisville, and Clemson, 8-4 is on the table.  Getting to six wins would have been impressive pre-season… but 8?  Wow.  Still, with the much tougher back end of the schedule, Wake Forest is not going to struggle to put up more than 3 more wins down the stretch.  Again, no knock on Wake, but they have peaked at 5-1.

Miami.  Like Louisville, Miami is 4-1.  Like Louisville, Miami has dominated its opponents–except for the one narrow loss to an elite team.  In Louisville’s case, Clemson; in Miami’s case, Florida State.  It is less clear, however, that Miami is going to run the table unscathed again.  Miami still has trips to Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and North Carolina State.  Meanwhile, North Carolina, Pitt, and Duke will visit Miami.  10-2 is possible and 9-3 is certainly doable.  Either way, Miami seems to be on the right track.

What do you think?  Who would you put in for each category?


ACC Football Rankings: Week 7

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 7:

  1. Clemson 6-0.  Boston College used to have a great defense.  After allowing over 100 points in its last two conference games, maybe not.  Either way, Clemson rolled over B.C. on the road to get to 6-0.  They are now halfway to the Conference Championship game.  They need to take care of NC State and not look forward to Florida State though.
  2. Louisville 4-1. The Cardinals got a week off to rest and prepare for Duke.
  3. Virginia Tech 4-1. With a 34-3 drubbing of the Tar Heels in the inclement weather, the Hokies may officially be “back.”  North Carolina was flying high entering the game, but left with its Coastal tag between its legs.  Virginia Tech travels to Syracuse to face the fading Orange.
  4. Florida State 4-2.  Sure, it was not beautiful, but it was the 7th straight win for the Seminoles over Miami.  The trajectory of these two rivals is getting closer, but Jimbo Fisher got the win to keep FSU in the running for a major bowl.  Wake Forest is next and will not be easy.
  5. Miami 4-1.  Miami has narrowed the gap considerably–but still fell short against FSU 20-19.  So close.  But there is no time to rest as a hungry North Carolina team will be coming to town next.  To stay in the Coastal hunt, Miami needs to take care of business.
  6. NC State 4-1.  NC State has a win over Wake Forest, who at 5-1 is taking major steps forward.  NC State also has a win over Notre Dame, who has talent all over the field and handled Syracuse easily.   Oh, but things get very challenging with a trip to Clemson this week.
  7. Wake Forest 5-1.  Wake Forest just keeps winning.  After losing to NC State, they made several major mistakes and still put Syracuse away.  At the halfway point, the Demon Deacons need just one more win to go bowling… and Army, Virginia, and Boston College are all on the schedule.  Next up, a trip to Florida State, who may have just found some confidence with a win over Miami.
  8. North Carolina 4-2. The Tar Heels could be higher, with losses only to Georgia and Va Tech.  This shows just how deep the ACC is now.  Unfortunately, UNC must now travel to Miami, who will be looking to rebound from its disappointing loss to rival FSU.
  9. Pittsburgh 4-2.  The Panthers were able to beat Georgia Tech by a field goal, moving to 4-2.  A trip to Virginia is next.  While Syracuse and Duke will come to town to end the season, the next three weeks involve games against Miami, Clemson, and Virginia Tech.  A Virginia win is essential.
  10. Georgia Tech 3-3.  After starting 3-0, the Yellow Jackets are now 3-3, with losses to Clemson, Miami, and Pitt.  They need to defeat Georgia Southern, who (fortunately for Ga Tech) is not quite the same under its new coach.  A good opportunity to right the ship.
  11. Duke 3-3.  A win is a win, and Duke beat Army 13-6 to get to .500.  All six remaining games are against teams above Duke in these standings, so there is a real risk of Duke missing out on a bowl this year.  Next up: Louisville, who will be looking to take out two weeks of post-Clemson frustration on the Blue Devils.  Yikes!
  12. Boston College 3-3.  Boston College used to be about defense, but they have been outscored 122-24 in conference play this year.  They have 15 days to prepare for Syracuse.
  13. Notre Dame 2-4.  The loss to NC State shows just how far the Fighting Irish have fallen.  Someone joked that it is a good thing that Notre Dame is not in the ACC because it would drag down the conference S.O.S.  And that joke was true.  To get to bowl eligibility, Notre Dame will have to win four of these games: Stanford, Miami, Army, Navy, Virginia Tech, and @ USC.  Yes, that is five straight home games in a schedule with only three true road games.  And no Clemson, FSU, or Louisville on the schedule.  Stanford and USC are both down, while Texas and Michigan State are fading.  To miss a bowl in a season with THIS schedule would be dreadful.
  14. Virginia 2-3.  Virginia got the week off and gets to move up to #14.  After all, they have a better record and a win over a P5 program (which Syracuse does not).  Next up is 4-2 Pitt.
  15. Syracuse 2-4.  The Orange are fading fast.  With six games left, bowl eligibility is mathematically alive.  But the loss to Wake Forest may have put that reality out of its misery.  With hot Va Tech coming to town, it could get that much more unlikely that much faster.  Perhaps worse Syracuse teams have pulled upsets, but it is what it is.  With wins over Colgate and UConn, Syracuse deserves the #15 spot until the results prove otherwise.

So, what do you think?  How would you change these rankings?

ACC Football Rankings: Week 6

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 6:

  1. Clemson 5-0.  No knock on Louisville, but Clemson gets the spot at 5-0, with a win over Louisville.  Maybe Louisville wins this game if played at home.  Maybe Louisville wins this game if played on a neutral site.  Maybe Louisville wins this game 6 or 7 times out of 10.  Maybe Louisville wins this game with better refs.  But Clemson won THE GAME that was actually played.  The best way to keep refs out of the game is to make them irrelevant by winning by a large margin.
  2. Louisville 4-1. Despite the loss, the Cardinals have a win over Florida State already on the resume.  So that gets them the #2 spot.  Even if Miami beats Florida State, Louisville will likely keep the spot.  What Louisville must do is remain focused and realize that winning out may yet get them a playoff spot–especially if Clemson stumbles against Florida State down the road.
  3. Miami 4-0.  Miami did what they were supposed to do in beating Georgia Tech.  But this is exactly the type of game that Al Golden would lose.  So now Miami has cleared its first obstacle.  The next obstacle is Florida State–who has dominated the Hurricanes of late.  Mark Richt can put a huge stamp on the resurrection of Miami by winning this game.
  4. North Carolina 4-1. The Tar Heels have four straight wins, as 2016 is setting up exactly like 2015–a disappointing loss to an SEC team that fades into obscurity and then a lot of wins.  Only this year, North Carolina has now gotten past Florida State too.  While an argument can be made for Virginia Tech at #4, we’ll make the Hokies earn it on the field against the Tar Heels this week.
  5. Virginia Tech 3-1. This was a tough one.  Both Virginia Tech and North Carolina have one loss.  They play this week.  North Carolina lost to Georgia, while the Hokies lost to Tennessee.  Again, the Hokies can easily take the #4 spot with a win over UNC.  Earn it on the field.
  6. Florida State 3-2.  Sure, the Seminoles have two losses, whereas a few ACC teams still only have one loss.  But the Seminoles beat Ole Miss and have lost to two teams that have only one loss UNC and Louisville.  A loss to Miami may yet in the cards though, as this is becoming a real rebuilding year for Florida State.
  7. NC State 3-1.  NC State has a loss to East Carolina, which pales into comparison with how Virginia Tech dominated ECU.  The win over previously undefeated Wake Forest propels them into the #7 spot though.  With Notre Dame coming to town, this is a huge statement game.  More importantly, with consecutive trips to Clemson and Louisville following this game–a loss can mean the realistic possibility of being 3-4 heading into the final 5 games.
  8. Wake Forest 4-1.  Well, Wake Forest had a chance to get itself into bowl eligibility with a 6-0 start, but it was doubled-up by North Carolina State, 33-16.  This puts Wake Forest behind NC State in the standings also.  Now it must face a Syracuse offense that can put points on the board in ways that Wake Forest perhaps cannot.
  9. Georgia Tech 3-2.  The Yellow Jackets are 3-1, with losses to Clemson and Miami–two teams that are a combined 9-0.  No shame in that.  Now Georgia Tech must travel to Pittsburgh, to face another 3-2 team that finds itself a few teams back in the Coastal standings.
  10. Pittsburgh 3-2.  The Panthers recovered from consecutive losses by defeating Marshall.  As expected.  The schedule gets tough again, with Georgia Tech coming to town, followed by a trip to Virginia.  After that, there are games against Virginia Tech, Miami, and Clemson–a combined 12-1.  So the importance of these next two games cannot be understated.  A bowl remains likely, but can Pitt can beyond merely 6 or 7 wins?
  11. Boston College 3-2.  Boston College has now beaten UMass, Wagner, and Buffalo en route to a 3-2 record.  Things get very real with Clemson up next.  An argument could be made for Duke here (who beat Notre Dame), but they just lost to Virginia.  Notre Dame just beat Syracuse, but they lost to Duke.  Meanwhile, Syracuse and Virginia have no business at #11 yet.  So B.C. gets this position–however temporary–by default.
  12. Duke 2-3.  It is hard to put Duke ahead of the pack, having lost to Virginia, who is at the bottom.  But Duke did beat Notre Dame, so Notre Dame cannot be ahead of Duke with the same record.  Next up is Army, which should be an easier game for Duke.
  13. Notre Dame 2-3.  The Fighting Irish did what they needed to do–beat Syracuse.  With Stanford and Miami looming, they really need to defeat North Carolina State–which will be tough on the road.  For now, Notre Dame gets the #13 spot.
  14. Syracuse 2-3.  The ‘Cuse could be #15.  But Syracuse has had to play Louisville (4-1), USF (4-1), and a desperate, hungry Notre Dame team.  They get to keep the #14 spot for another week.  Dino Babers can get them back to .500 with a win @ Wake Forest.
  15. Virginia 2-3.  Virginia got another win–this time over Duke.  It just shows the depth of the coaching and talent in the ACC that the #15 team is this good.  If Virginia had only just taken care of Richmond–it remains an anchor on these standings.

So, what do you think?  How would you change these rankings?

ACC Football Stockwatch: Buy, Sell, and Hold

After four weeks, coaches are already getting fired.  Teams are separating themselves.  If there was stock, who are you buying, selling, and holding?  Here are a few teams for each category.


Virginia Tech.  After a loss to Tennessee, the Hokies have dominated Boston College and East Carolina… two teams that rarely are dominated.  The smartest thing that a new coaching staff can do is retain that which is not broken.  In this case, the defense was not changed.  And now the offense and defense are both clicking.  With no Clemson, Florida State, or Louisville on the schedule, Virginia Tech could win the Coastal.

Boston College.  Huh?  Well, as 2-2, the Eagles have games against Buffalo, UConn, Syracuse, Wake Forest, and North Carolina state remaining.  Do you see four potential wins there?  Maybe.  If so, it will be a bowl.  That is an uptick over the present situation.

Wake Forest.  Like Boston College, Wake Forest does not have a horribly daunting remaining schedule.  Yeah, let’s give losses to Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville.  The Demon Deacons still have five more winnable games to get to bowl eligibility: @NC State, Syracuse, Army, Virginia, and Boston College.  Note that four of these games are at home too.  Wow.


Really, not much to sell here.  Virginia and Syracuse just had wins.  Florida State had some defensive woes, but is 3-1.  NC State and Georgia Tech have more wins than losses.  And so on.

But Notre Dame’s defensive woes are such that they fired their defensive coordinator.  So it might make some sense to sell Notre Dame until you see what a new coordinator can do.  At the same time, with three losses already, there is a path forward that has the Fighting Irish sitting home during bowl season.  They avoided Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville this year, but Miami and Virginia Tech look better than last year.  Meanwhile, Stanford is very good.  Lose those three games and there are six losses.  If so, Notre Dame has to hold serve against Syracuse, NC State, Army, Navy, and struggling U.S.C., just to get the six wins for bowl eligibility.  And if Syracuse upsets them this week?  Trouble.  Anything can happen, but it would make sense to “sell” for now.

Pittsburgh.  After a 2-0 start against in-state Penn State and Villanova, the Panthers dropped winnable games at Oklahoma State and North Carolina.  Marshall, Syracuse, and Virginia are “should wins.”  The Coastal is a mess, as usual. If Miami and Virginia Tech are for real, and Duke’s got the ship righted, Pitt may struggle to get to and beyond 6 wins.  Probably makes sense to “sell” and see where they are after the Georgia Tech game on October 8th.


Clemson and Louisville.  Only one of these teams will come out of this week’s matchup 5-0 and in the drivers’ seat for the playoffs.  One of these teams will come out 4-1 and have obstacles.  Both teams still have to get by Florida State, who can play the spoiler and try to sneak back in.  All three still have games against SEC foes.  But you need to wait out this week to know who controls their own destiny.

Miami.  Four weeks in, Miami is 3-0.  The three easiest games on the schedule are gone, now it is Coastal competition, Florida State, Notre Dame, and North Carolina State.  Mark Richt should be familiar with Georgia Tech’s offense from his Georgia coaching days, and with two weeks to prepare, it would be inexcusable for the Hurricanes to not have a great game plan.  But if Georgia Tech can win this game, the schedule for Miami looks a lot tougher.

What do you think?  Who would you put in for each category?


ACC Football Rankings: Week 5

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 5:

  1. Louisville 4-0. The Cardinals are averaging 63 points per game.  That makes the 58 points against Marshall a disappointment.  And it is odd that Marshall scored more points against Louisville than Florida State.  But all eyes–including GameDay–turn to Death Valley where Louisville faces its toughest test of the regular season (well, maybe it will be @ Houston).  If Louisville can get by this one, look out.  But Clemson has the offense and defense to keep up with Louisville, and home field should be an advantage.
  2. Clemson 4-0.  While Louisville has looked impressive racking up its 4 wins, Clemson has not.  The nice win over Georgia Tech is another step in the right direction.  Louisville coming to town will be Clemson’s biggest challenge to date as Lamar Jackson is every bit the QB that Watson is.  The Heisman hype has shifted from Watson to Jackson too.  This should be a great game.
  3. Florida State 3-1.  Florida State’s offense put up 55 points on a decent South Florida defense.  But the defense is allowing a lot of points.  With North Carolina coming to town, things need to get righted pretty quick.  The playoff picture may be bleak for the Seminoles, but a prime bowl is still in the mix.
  4. Miami 3-0.  Miami got a week off… giving them two weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech’s unique offense.  That is a nice advantage.  This is the type of game Miami has lost during the past decade.  They are only cautiously slotted at #4.
  5. Wake Forest 4-0.  The Confidential told you that the Demon Deacons had the potential for 9 wins.  And they are already almost halfway there.  NC State is a big rivalry game, and it is on the road (again).  If they can win this one, a bowl is almost a certainty.
  6. Virginia Tech 3-1. This was a tough one.  Both Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech lost to highly ranked teams, with Clemson being a better team than Tennessee.  Both teams beat Boston College, Virginia Tech very handily.  But the Hokies are really starting to put up some offensive and defensive numbers… cannot ignore that.  East Carolina has been a thorn, but was quickly weeded and dispatched.  
  7. Georgia Tech 3-1.  The Yellow Jackets are 3-1, with only a loss to Clemson… no shame in that.  If the Yellow Jackets can beat Miami, they will rise substantially.
  8. North Carolina 3-1. The Tar Heels have three straight wins, as 2016 is setting up just like 2015–a disappointing loss to an SEC team that fades into obscurity and then a lot of wins.  But this year, Florida State is on the schedule.  And a trip to the Seminoles will show whether North Carolina is going to have a season similar to last year.
  9. Pittsburgh 2-2.  The Panthers have now lost two straight… albeit to decent teams.  Penn State is not the Penn State of old though, and Pitt seems to be taking a step back all of the sudden.  They get Marshall this week, who just got a taste of Louisville.  They will be ready.
  10. NC State 2-1.  NC State gets to host Wake Forest this week.  In August, this game looked like a tune-up game.  Now, Wake is 4-0 and has some momentum.  Things get pretty scary if NC State loses this game.  With Notre Dame replacing one of their four annual OOC cupcakes, and the other Atlantic foes looking solid, there are few spots for wins after this game.
  11. Duke 2-2.  Duke rebounded from the loss to Northwestern by beating Notre Dame at Notre Dame.  In fact, Notre Dame went ahead and fired its defensive coordinator thereafter.  Virginia comes to town, fresh off a win off its first win.  And with Army looming, Duke is still in the hunt for bowl eligibility.
  12. Notre Dame 1-3.  Notre Dame is in trouble.  Brian Kelly fired the defensive coordinator.  Texas is better, but not Texas.  Michigan State is good, but looked terrible against Wisconsin.  And Duke is not a juggernaut this year.  If Notre Dame cannot beat a Syracuse team that is giving up points aplenty, it is time to panic.
  13. Syracuse 2-2.  The Orange got past UConn, which is nice.  The offense is struggling to put up points, but generally moving the ball.  The defense is porous, but did better against UConn’s deliberate offense.  Few Orange fans expected a win against Notre Dame, and fewer still expected a win after the losses to Louisville and South Florida.  Somehow, however, Notre Dame’s struggles are giving the ‘Cuse optimism.  We’ll see.
  14. Boston College 2-2.  Boston College beat up on Wagner, and its embarrassingly easy OOC schedule continues with Buffalo next.  Not the Bills, but the Bulls–losers to Albany this year.  If B.C. is to have any chance of a bowl, it has to win this week.
  15. Virginia 1-3.  Virginia got a win!  A win is a win, and Central Michigan is no pushover.  Next up?  A trip to Duke.

So, what do you think?  Are we being too harsh on Georgia Tech for a loss to Clemson?  Is Florida State too high given their defensive woes?  Any other errors in your opinion?

ACC Football Rankings: Week 3-4

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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?

ACC Football Rankings: Week 2-3

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 2 and 3:

  1. Clemson.  The Tigers did not look impressive against Troy, barely winning 30-24.  Troy did win their first game, however, by 40+ points.  So maybe this is a better than expected Troy team.  Regardless, Clemson gets the nod here because of its win AT the Auburn Tigers, which is the best win of the top 3 teams.
  2. Florida State.  The Seminoles took care of its FCS opponent, Charleston Southern, 52-8.  Coupled with a win on a neutral site against Ole Miss, FSU is a clear #2.  Whether they keep it after this week is another story.
  3. Louisville.  As good as Louisville looked in beating Charlotte, they looked even better beating Syracuse.  But Syracuse is no Auburn or Ole Miss.  So Louisville will have to earn its surge up these standings on the field… which comes this week in a game against Florida State.  Lamar Jackson is the real deal.  The Louisville defense looks stout.  Not only is Louisville “capable” of winning, Louisville may actually take it to the Seminoles.  We’ll see.
  4. Miami.  Miami continued its parade of games against middling Florida opponents, beating Florida Atlantic, 38-10.  With Kaaya at QB, the Hurricanes get to keep their slot–even if the true tests do not come until later.
  5. Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets are 2-0, adding a win over Mercer to their resume.  Vanderbilt is up next–we shall see what happens.
  6. North Carolina. The Tar Heels went to Illinois and won–and, although Mac teams seem to do it every year–for a P5 team to win at a Big 10 school is always worthy of maintaining its spot in the standings.  So, we keep UNC here.
  7. Notre Dame.  Notre Dame beat Nevada, entitling it to also keep its place in the standings.  Next up for the Fighting Irish is Michigan State.  We’ll learn a lot about Notre Dame’s fortunes this week.
  8. Wake Forest.  Although most ACC power rankings had Wake Forest low, they had a win over Tulane, whereas other schools had wins over F.C.S. opponents.  Well, the Demon Deacons went to Duke and got another win.  At 2-0, with a win over Duke, Wake Forest deserves its #8 ranking all the more.  It stays ahead of Pitt by having a road win.  Not sure Penn State is any better than Duke.
  9. Pittsburgh.  5 teams were tied for #10 last week because they were 1-0 with a win against an FCS opponent.  only one pulled out a victory in Week 2, as the Panthers beat Penn State, albeit at home.  A win over Penn State has to be enough to put a 2-0 team ahead of a 1-1 team.
  10. Boston College.  Boston College is 1-1, with a loss to Georgia Tech and a win over UMass–an FBS opponent.  Despite the win, B.C. at 1-1 with a win over UMass simply cannot be atop Pitt with a win over Penn State.
  11. Virginia Tech.  There are 4 ACC teams at 1-1 with a win over an FCS foe only.  Of them, Virginia Tech lost on a neutral site to a top 15 team in Tennessee.  This is more impressive, or less unimpressive, than the other three teams combined loss/win characteristics.  Ergo, the Hokies get the nod.
  12. Syracuse.  The Orange “D” was atrocious against Louisville, but the Cardinals may make a lot of defenses look atrocious.  Compared to Duke losing at home to Wake Forest and NC State losing to East Carolina, Syracuse gets the #12 spot this week.
  13. NC State.  East Carolina may or may not be “better” than Wake Forest, but Duke lost at home, while NC State lost on the road.  Both teams were playing in-school opponents, but this loss just seems more understandable overall.  Edge to the Pack.
  14. Duke.  Look, losing to Wake Forest at home is not the end of the world, but it might just show that the Duke surge of recent years may be waning.
  15. Virginia.  The only 0-2 team–Virginia looked better against Oregon than Richmond.  Perhaps the Spiders are better than the Ducks?  Well, this happens from time-to-time.  At least there is some momentum for the Wahoos–who do have prior history to look at in terms of FCS losses and rebounds.

So, what do you think?  Should we have re-arranged Clemson, Florida State, and Louisville?  Are you finally ready to believe that Wake Forest is top 8?  

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 1/2

Welcome to the ACC Roundtable of the ACC Correspondents!  As is and will be the plan for the remainder of the football season, some of the Confidential correspondents will discuss the Week that was (week 1) and the Week that will be (Week 2) for the ACC and their respective schools.

Q1: What stands out about your school’s performance last week?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): The emergence of Ryan Finley was the big story of Week 1. The biggest question mark State had was at QB. The coaching staff wouldn’t name a starter, and made it clear that the battle would be decided on the field. I don’t know if it’s been announced yet, but Finley has to get the nod after his performance last week. He went 17-21 with 174 yards and 2 TD’s. Contrast that with Jalen McClendon’s 6-9, 88 yd and an interception, Finley seems to have ended the debate.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): The fact that Syracuse was able to play so fast in their first game under Dino Babers.  Although he claimed it was slow, it was fast enough for Bobby Petrino to make comments that drew the ire of numerous Syracuse blogs.  See e.g. here.  Look, Syracuse offense has been an “issue” for most of the post-Pasqualoni era.  Under Greg Robinson, getting first downs was exciting.  The latter part of the Doug Marrone era was a pro-style offense that moved the ball decently, but there were other times when wins came by defense.  Scott Shafer’s offenses had some moments, but also had some not so great moments, but remained a defense-first program.  The idea of having an offensive-first philosophy has not been the case in a long, long time.  That it also happens to be fast paced and tailored to the Carrier Dome is exciting.  That it worked pretty well against Colgate stood out.
Q2: What are you looking to see out of your school this week?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): Wolfpack fans have made it clear that the team needs to leave Greenville with a win. There doesn’t seem to be any expectations in terms of stats, all that will matter is what is on the scoreboard. It’s the risk you take playing these kinds of games. A win over ECU won’t make many headlines, but a loss certainly would.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Well, the offense looked good (not great) against Colgate.  How will it look against bigger, stronger, faster, smarter athletes?  A few Dungey passes were just missed by Colgate defenders.  Against Louisville, that will be a Pick Six.  A few other passes were caught because of superior athleticism.  That will not happen in any other game.  So… how good will Syracuse’s offense be against a very good opponent?  We’ll be looking at that very closely.
Q3: Did any other ACC team impress you this week?  If so, who and why?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): I was pleasantly surprised with how well Florida State played, especially after trailing by so much. They seem to have solved their QB problem as well with Francois, and the defense played on another level in the second half. I still think NC State will win that one in Raleigh, but they looked very impressive in that second half.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Miami.  I do not  care who the opponent is, when you put up points like that, you are doing something right.  And, for Miami, it is all the more important that they get some swagger back.  If the conference is going to be FSU, Clemson, and a diminutive dozen, so be it.  But Miami being an elite program would be good for the ACC by both restoring balance to the divisions and making the conference look better to outsiders.  Miami has had good moments in the past, to be sure.  The issue is whether Richt will carry it through week after week.  We will see.
Q4: As of the season to date, who are you projecting in the college football playoff? 
Harrison Huntley (NC State): Alabama, Clemson/FSU, Michigan/Ohio State, Houston.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Oregon.  Florida State, Michigan, and Houston are all in the hunt obviously.  But Houston was upset by UConn last year–there is little room for error this year.  If it comes down to 1-loss teams from major conferences–unless Houston’s only loss is to a Louisville team that is also in the playoffs, it is hard to see Houston making it in.  Florida State and Michigan would be excluded based on head-to-head results.

What do you think?  How would you answer these questions?

ACC Football Rankings: Week 1-2

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 1 and 2:

  1. Clemson.  The Tigers get the nod here because they did not fall way behind against Auburn.  That gives them a slight edge over Florida State.
  2. Florida State.  Again, Clemson looked slightly better in beating Auburn, but Florida State certainly dominated the second half.  Then again, the opposite happened in the first half.  These things will sort themselves out in due time.
  3. Louisville.  We are having some fun at Bobby Petrino’s expense, and others have REALLY taken him to task, but Louisville looked real, real good in beating Charlotte.  The Confidential may have under-valued Louisville by a win.  Still, need to take care of business against upstart Syracuse.
  4. Miami.  With a lot of teams beating FCS opponents, the nod has to go to a team beating an FBS opponent, even if a lesser opponent, but a substantial margin.
  5. Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets beat Boston College, but it is possible that “hapless” may end up being a modifier for Boston College this year.  Then again, the Eagles have a pathetically easy schedule.  So we’ll slot Ga Tech behind Louisville and Miami, but ahead of the other winners.  Also skeptical that Georgia Tech can stay here, while the above teams have more perceived staying power.
  6. North Carolina. This came down to a battle between Notre Dame and North Carolina for the 6th spot, with the Tar Heels taking the edge this week.  Georgia was primed for a victory under its new coach and had a home field advantage (despite a technically neutral location).  If UNC cannot topple Illinois, could be a big step back for the Tar Heels this year.
  7. Notre Dame.  Losing to Texas usually is not shameful.  Losing to Charlie Strong usually is not shameful.  But the recent struggles suggest otherwise.  Plus, Texas played Notre Dame last year, so there should have been some familiarity.  Edge to the Tar Heels.
  8. Wake Forest.  On the one hand, Wake Forest beat Tulane–a well coached team in the American.  On the other hand, Tulane’s not a defensive team and the Demon Deacons mustered only 7 points.  On yet another hand, Wake Forest BEAT an FBS foe.  SO we give them #8.
  9. Boston College.  If losing to Texas and Georgia are enough to keep UNC and Notre Dame above Georgia Tech, what about losing to Georgia Tech?  Well, B.C. just did not look good enough to inspire confidence.  But fair is fair.
  10. Pittsburgh/Virginia Tech/Syracuse/Duke/NC State.  Rather than try to separate them this week, we can just lump them together into one slot–as they all did what they needed to against FCS opponents.
  11. Virginia.  If beating an FCS foe is unimpressive, losing to one is disastrous.  Being blown out is indescribable.  The easiest ranking of the week is Virginia in last.

So, what do you think?  Should we have dropped Wake Forest and BC behind the FCS beaters?  Swapped Clemson/FSU?  Let us know.

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