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 11:
- Clemson 9-1. After flirting with disaster against Troy and NC State, Clemson finally lost a game to Pitt. In fairness, this is a decent Pitt team that has beaten Penn State. But it is the same Pitt that lost to Miami. The only thing keeping Clemson here is the head-to-head win over Louisville. Next up: @ Wake Forest.
- Louisville 9-1. The Cardinals have an argument for #1 that goes like this… Clemson lost to Pitt, we lost to Clemson–a much better team than Pitt. However, Louisville did not play Pitt. And Louisville played Clemson and lost. Meanwhile, it is odd that Louisville’s conference season is already over. They travel to Houston for a Thursday tilt against the 8-2 Cougars before playing Kentucky to end the season. Next up: @ Houston.
- Florida State 7-3. There is an argument for each of the three 7-3 teams to be #3. North Carolina beat FSU, which is the same logic used above to separate Clemson and Louisville. However, UNC was drubbed by middling Duke and Virginia Tech, who has lost to middling Syracuse and Georgia Tech. Meanwhile, the Seminoles have not lost to a team with a worse record, as Louisville, Clemson, and North Carolina are a combined 25-5. The Seminoles squeak into the #3 spot. Next up: @ Syracuse.
- Virginia Tech 7-3. The Hokies had won three straight headed into a home game with Georgia Tech, where they lost by 10. Georgia Tech is not horrible, but this was a game that Virginia Tech could have won to show some separation from the rest of the Coastal. Not to be. Given Va Tech’s domination of UNC, they get the edge at #4 though. Next up: @ Notre Dame.
- North Carolina 7-3. The Tar Heels were on target to go 10-2, but then they lost to Duke–giving the Blue Devils their only ACC win of the season so far. Sigh. While UNC can get to 9-3 with wins over Citadel and NC State, it is just not the same. Next up: Citadel.
- Miami 6-4. After four straight wins, Miami loss four straight (including to Notre Dame). Now, Miami has won two straight by a combined score of 85-42. They beat Pitt, who just beat Clemson. They also won @ Georgia Tech. They have been “back” and “not back” all season. With a trip to NC State (who needs a win to get to bowl eligibility) and hosting Duke, perhaps we will really find out. Next up: @ NC State.
- Pitt 6-4. Pitt had a great win over Clemson, and has another great win over Penn State. But losses to very good teams like Oklahoma State, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech also happened. And Pitt also was blown out by Miami. Against a tough schedule, Pitt has had a “good” season. Winning out would be nice, with remaining home games against Duke and Syracuse (both teams are 4-6). Next up: Duke.
- Georgia Tech 6-4. Georgia Tech’s upset win over Virginia Tech got the Yellow Jackets to bowl eligibility. With games against Virginia and Georgia, 8-4 is not out of the question. Other than Virginia Tech, however, the wins are not all that impressive: Vandy, BC, Mercer, Duke, and Georgia Southern. But that win over Virginia Tech separates Georgia Tech from Wake Forest. Next up: Virginia.
- Wake Forest 6-4. Wake Forest has six wins, but none of them are over teams that are bowl-eligible at the moment. Wake has also lost to Army and NC State. Kind of a gift to allow the Demon Deacons to be ahead of NC State, but it has had the better season overall. Wake can get another win by beating Boston College at home. Next up: Clemson.
- NC State 5-5. At 5-5, NC State has a win over Wake Forest. Otherwise, NC State’s wins are over teams below them in these standings (Notre Dame, Syracuse), Old Dominion, and William and Mary. Losses to East Carolina and Boston College happened. Really, this is a huge drop off from top 9 to #10 and beyond in the ACC. Games against Miami and North Carolina can get NC State bowling, but it will not be easy. Next up: Miami.
- Duke 4-6. This Duke team is not very good, but it beat Notre Dame and North Carolina this year. To get to bowl eligibility, the Blue Devils will need to win at Miami and Pittsburgh. Possible, but 0-2 is also possible. Also possible is that Duke will get one win and get a bowl invite at 5-7 due to APR standings. Next up: @ Pitt.
- Notre Dame 4-6. The Fighting Irish are 4-6. The best win was Miami, who sits at 6-4. The remainder of wins are Army, Syracuse, and Nevada. With the exception of Navy (7-2), the losses are to programs all disappointed with their seasons so far, such as Texas (5-5), Michigan State (3-7), Duke (4-6), NC State (5-5), and Stanford (7-3). Wow. Next up: Virginia Tech.
- Syracuse 4-6. Syracuse has had its moments, but the loss of QB Eric Dungey doomed them in a winnable game against North Carolina State. There are theoretical ways for Syracuse to make a bowl game, but they will need wins against FSU and Pitt to do so. Theory meet reality. The Orange are trending in the right direction though. Next up: FSU.
- Boston College 4-6. The Eagles win over NC State was a nice boost, and with games against UConn and Wake Forest remaining, bowl eligibility is not out of the question. But this Eagles team is a clear #14, having lost to Syracuse and having only one conference win overall. Next up: UConn.
- Virginia 2-8. With only two wins, Virginia is easily the #15 team. Every other ACC team has at least 4 wins overall. Anything can happen in the final two road games at Georgia Tech and at rival Virginia Tech, but a 2-10 record is a legitimate possibility. Next up: @ Georgia Tech.
So, what do you think? How would you change these rankings?