Week 1 ACC Power Rankings: Clemson Tops the List

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 2: Players for the Clemson Tigers walk to the end zone during pregame warmups before their game against the Kent State Golden Flashes on September 2, 2017 at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images)
CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 2: Players for the Clemson Tigers walk to the end zone during pregame warmups before their game against the Kent State Golden Flashes on September 2, 2017 at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images) /

The arguments are already heating up. If the ACC was the best conference in the land last year, then where do they rank after a mediocre first week? Let’s look at the ACC Power Rankings after week one.

1) Clemson (1-0, defeated Kent State 56-3)

There was absolutely no title hangover for the defending champs. Everything was clicking across the board for Clemson. QB Kelly Bryant threw for nearly twice as many yards as Kent State had in total offense (236-120). 15 different Tigers caught passes Saturday, a school record. Three Clemson running backs averaged over 7.0 YPC. Clemson is first in our ACC Power Rankings after week oneNext game: vs. #13 Auburn

2) Virginia Tech (1-0, defeated #22 West Virginia 31-24)

The preseason talk about the Coastal teams surrounded concerns over the turnover in quarterbacks. Josh Jackson eased those concerns early on for Hokie fans, throwing for 235 yards and running for 101 more. Tech’s defense bent, but didn’t break, and established the Hokies as a legit threat to win the Coastal, and as the top Coastal team in our ACC Power Rankings. Next game: vs. Delaware

3) Florida State (0-1, lost to #1 Alabama 24-7) 

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When is a loss not just a loss? When your young star QB gets hit late and suffers a season-ending injury. Such is the case for the Seminoles, who were out-manned by suffocating Tide defense/special teams units. Florida State’s mistakes might be palpable against lesser opponents, but not Alabama. If there is a silver lining to this week one dark cloud, the lofty expectations have been tempered, so now Jimbo can get the team focused on the week-by-week play while he also unleashes stud running back Cam Akers. Being #3 in the ACC Power Rankings is more indicative of the unknown of Josh Blackmon that the team as a whole. Next game: vs. UL-Monroe

4) Louisville (1-0, defeated Purdue 35-28)

The score in a win over a lower tier Big 10 school might not impress, but the Cards overcame 3 fumbles (two inside the red zone) and 16 penalties to win. Lamar Jackson picked up where he left off in his 2016 Heisman campaign racking up 485 total yards. Petrino will have to find a way to limit turnovers and penalties going forward if they’re to compete in the Atlantic. Next game: at UNC

5) Miami (1-0, defeated Bethune-Cookman 41-13)


It wasn’t the thorough annihilation some thought Bethune-Cookman would get, but Miami still made quick work of the FCS school. While Brad Kaaya replacement Malik Rosier was efficient, it was Miami’s running game that provided the offense, with Mark Walton and Travis Homer both going over 100 yards rushing. And Miami introduced the turnover chain, which is the most Miami thing ever. Next game: at Florida State (9/16)

6) Georgia Tech (0-1, lost to #25 Tennessee 42-41 in double overtime)

The Ramblin’ Wreck did all they could to win Labor Day night against the Vols. Unfortunately, they did almost all they could to lose as well. Despite racking up over 500 yards of rushing, the Jackets coughed up a fumble in Tennessee’s red zone late and had a game-winning field goal blocked. Tech fans, be hopeful. Your yawn-inducing offense looks just fine despite losing numerous players from last season. Next game: vs. Jacksonville State

7) NC State (0-1, lost to South Carolina 35-28)

Let me paint the scenario: your team has outgained your opponent 504 yards to 246. You’ve had the ball 13 minutes longer than your opponent. And you have 29 first downs while your opponent only has 12. You’re winning by double-digits, right? Wrong. The Wolfpack made just enough miscues in their loss to the Gamecocks to make us wonder if the experts had been overhyping the vaunted NC State defense all preseason. A win would’ve put them in the top 5 of our ACC Power Rankings. Next game: vs. Marshall

8) Syracuse (1-0, defeated Central Connecticut 50-7)

We won’t pretend like Syracuse was playing a team of world beaters Saturday but hanging 50 on

SYRACUSE, NY – September 01: Eric Dungey
SYRACUSE, NY – September 01: Eric Dungey /

anyone is impressive, and keeping them to only a touchdown is even better. Eric Dungey tied Ryan Nassib with having the most 300-yard passing games in school history. A lack of running game concerned ‘Cuse coach Dino Babers, but the team still has a few weeks of non-power 5 opponents to get things figured out before they travel to LSU. Next game: vs. MTSU

9) Wake Forest (1-0, defeated Presbyterian 51-7)

Aside from total domination, what impressed most about Wake’s blowout over FCS opponent Presbyterian was their offensive balance. The Deacs had 239 yards passing and 248 yards rushing. Wake scored on its first six possessions and never let the game be in doubt. Conference play begins Saturday, and things won’t be as easy. Next game: at Boston College 

10) Boston College (1-0, defeated Northern Illinois 23-20)

The talk all offseason surrounding BC was the defense. While they got the job done, not recording any sacks or QB pressures won’t win you games in the ACC. We knew they offense would struggle, so it will need to be better prepared going forward. The key stat of the Eagles’ win over NIU was keeping the Huskies to 2-15 in third down conversions. Next game: vs. Wake Forest

11) Duke (1-0, defeated North Carolina Central 60-7)

Most writers had the Blue Devils finishing near the bottom of the Coastal, but that doesn’t take away from a dominating week 1 performance. Duke outgained NC Central by nearly 400 yards and allowed to Eagles only eight first downs. It’s always hard to judge a team’s readiness when they’re playing a glorified high school team, so let’s see what Duke has for Northwestern this week. Next game: vs. Northwestern

12) North Carolina (0-1, lost to Cal 35-30)

CHAPEL HILL, NC – SEPTEMBER 02: Devante Downs /

Expectations were lowered this season for the Heels after losing several key pieces from last year’s team, but you shouldn’t lower them to the point where losing to a west coast team at noon Eastern standard time is excusable. Cal is not a great team, but QB Ross Bowers threw for 363 yards and 4 touchdowns. For UNC to win games this year, they’ll need to avoid turnovers. They had three Saturday, and they cost them dearly. Next game: vs. #17 Louisville

13) UVa (1-0, defeated William & Mary 28-10)

Virginia won in what was easily the least watchable game of the weekend among ACC teams. UVa coach Bronco Mendenhall does have to be pleased with his QB play from Kurt Benkert who threw for 262 yards and 3 TDs. Next game: vs. Indiana

14) Pitt (defeated Youngstown State 28-21 in overtime)

It’s always a good start when you get up on an FCS opponent by three touchdowns. Not good when you allow that opponent to come back and tie things up, forcing overtime. The post-James Conner era got off to a bumpy start for the Panthers. USC transfer Max Browne was efficient but didn’t exactly light things up. Next game: at #4 Penn State