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