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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?