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 9:
- Clemson 7-0. Two weeks to prepare for Florida State in another epic battle. Florida State is trending up, so Clemson needs to be ready.
- Louisville 6-1. The Cardinals got back to normal against NC State, who was #4 in these standings heading into the game. A game in which it was 44-0 in the first half. Lamar Jackson may or may not win the Heisman, but he has been dominant more often than not. Virginia comes to town next and it could get ugly quickly for the Wahoos.
- Florida State 5-2. Bowl eligibility is a goal for some schools, but not Florida State. A win against Clemson is for keeping alive the hope for an 11+ win season.
- NC State 4-3. NC State lost big to Louisville, which has happened to nearly every Louisville opponent. The schedule lightens up this week, as Boston College (who was handled by Syracuse) comes to town.
- Virginia Tech 5-2. The Hokies got back to being the Coastal favorite by defeating Miami, on the road, by a few touchdowns. Next up is a Thursday trip to Pittsburgh and a chance to get to bowl eligibility already.
- North Carolina 6-2. The Tar Heels dominated rival Virginia to get to 6-2, making it two straight conference road wins. UNC gets a week off before hosting Georgia Tech.
- Wake Forest 5-2. Wake Forest has had a great season and gets Army next–with bowl eligibility on the line. Louisville and Clemson are likely losses, but Virginia and Boston College are two remaining home games that Wake Forest can also win. An 8-win season remains on the table.
- Miami 4-3. From 4-0 to 4-3. And now the Hurricanes are off to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish, who are desperate for a win. All of the sudden, the Miami is back discussion has softened. This will take some time, Miami fans.
- Pittsburgh 5-2. After beating Virginia, Pitt is quietly 5-2. But the schedule down the stretch is very tough. Pitt can beat anyone, including Clemson. They could also lose out. The Coastal is that wild. Needless to say, Pitt will be what it will be. Next up: Virginia Tech on Thursday, with the winner getting bowl-eligibility.
- Syracuse 4-4. At 4-4, Syracuse is about where it should be, realistically. They could have beaten Wake Forest and USF. They could have lost to Virginia Tech and at Boston College. In any event, with two wins over ACC foes and a win over UConn, Syracuse gets the #10 spot this week. Enjoy the “bye,” Syracuse. Next up is a trip to Clemson.
- Georgia Tech 4-3. The Yellow Jackets have had two weeks to prepare for Duke. The problem is that Duke has had two weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech’s unique offense–which isn’t THAT unique to its Coastal foes anymore.
- Duke 3-4. See above. Duke will be on the road, which gives Georgia Tech the edge.
- Boston College 3-4. Boston College used to be about defense, but Syracuse moved the ball fairly easily against them–with Syracuse stopping itself by several false starts and red zone turnovers. Meanwhile, BC’s scoring came from a kickoff return and a QB scamper for a TD that caught the Syracuse defense flat-footed. In the absence of sustained drives and solid defense, this is becoming a very tough season for the Eagles. The remaining schedule include Louisville and Florida State, as well as trips to improved North Carolina State and Wake Forest. At this point, even the game against UConn has to be in doubt, and with it the future of the coaching staff. Next up is a trip to NC State.
- Notre Dame 2-5. Miami comes to town next for Notre Dame. Is it good timing for the Fighting Irish that the Hurricanes have lost three straight? Is it bad timing that Miami will be hungry for a win? Does it matter? The only thing that is clear is that these two teams both need to win badly and only one of them will be happy.
- Virginia 2-5. With only two wins, Virginia is stuck at #14. And it is hard to find another win on the schedule. Notre Dame, however, still hosts Army and Navy, while USC and Miami are very mortal. Even Virginia Tech showed some vulnerability–losing to Syracuse. In contrast, the combined record of the teams left on Virginia’s schedule is 24-11. No easy games. Next up is the toughest remaining–Louisville comes to town.
So, what do you think? How would you change these rankings?