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