Three weeks into the ACC football season, we find ourselves in much the same place as all of Hollywood: “Nobody knows anything,” as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” screenwriter William Goldman has said of Tinseltown (via Bill Simmons). The conference got a couple of marquee nonconference wins (Florida State over Brigham Young, Virginia Tech over Nebraska) and a couple of train-wreck losses (Virginia to Southern Miss, Maryland to Middle Tennessee). On the whole, though, most of the conference is still a mystery.
There are only a few certainties at this point:
- Miami is good, possibly very good.
- Maryland and Virginia are bad, very, very bad.
Everything else is, essentially, a toss-up. That makes ranking the schools difficult, but Jeremy and I took a shot at it:
|1 (1)||Miami (2-0, 2-0)
The Hurricanes looked outstanding Thursday against a tired Georgia Tech team, launching a round of “Is The U Back?” stories. Like this one. Here’s hoping they’re more spot-on than those “The magic is back at Notre Dame” stories that attended fast starts under Charlie Weis and Tyrone Willingham.
Last week: W vs. Georgia Tech
This week: at Virginia Tech
|2 (2)||Virginia Tech (2-1)
The Hokies won an ugly slugfest over 19th-ranked Nebraska Saturday. The running game continued to be surprisingly effective, given the injury to Darren Evans. Tyrod Taylor played poorly but came up with an 80-yard completion when he absolutely needed it. He’ll need to do more against Jacory Harris and the ‘Canes this week.
Last week: W vs. Nebraska (16-15)
This week: vs. Miami
|3 (9)||Florida State (2-1, 1-1)
We may not see a bigger one-week swing in the country this season than the one Florida State just completed. A week ago, FSU looked D-U-N, done, after rallying to beat a Football Championship Subdivision team, Jacksonville State, in Tallahassee. The ‘Noles’ whipping of Brigham Young couldn’t have been more unexpected. This week, FSU hosts a weakened South Florida team that will be without starting quarterback Matt Grothe for the rest of the season.
Last week: W at Brigham Young
This week: vs. South Florida
|4 (4)||North Carolina (3-0)
Another week as a bridesmaid for UNC, which stalled at #4 despite an impressive home win over a game East Carolina team. It’s going to take a little more to wipe away the ugly Week 2 win over UConn, but I’m guessing T.J. Yates will push Carolina ahead soon enough.
Last week: W vs. East Carolina
This week: at Georgia Tech
|5 (3)||Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-1)
Georgia Tech went from aspiring conference contender to afterthought in one week. Tech looked sluggish in its third game in 12 days, and the Jackets will have a diminished Jonathan Dwyer or none at all this week. Nine days off should do wonders for the rest of this shambling wreck.
Last week: L vs. Miami (33-17)
This week: vs. North Carolina
|6 (7)||Clemson (2-1, 1-1)
Clemson frankly looks better than Georgia Tech right now, but it’s hard to put the Tigers ahead of a team that beat them. The defense dominated Boston College (54 yards allowed!), but the offense wasn’t great. Field goals accounted for 18 of the Tigers’ 25 points. It was a costly win, too, as running back C.J. Spiller and left tackle Chris Hairston suffered injuries. They may be gimpy for a tough home game this week against Texas Christian.
Last week: W vs. Boston College
This week: vs. Texas Christian
|Wake Forest (2-1)
Nothing good can come from playing a Football Championship Subdivision team. Win big, and you did what you were supposed to. Win small (or lose), and you’re a faker. Wake won handily against Elon, but does that tell us anything? We may not learn much more this week, as Wake travels to Chestnut Hill to play a suddenly awful-looking Boston College.
Last week: W vs. Elon (35-7)
This week: at Boston College
|8 (8)||N.C. State (2-1)
Another week, another big win over a crappy team. The Pack gets back to to the grown-up table this week against Pitt.
Last week: W vs. Gardner-Webb
This week: vs. Pittsburgh
|9 (5)||Boston College (2-1, 0-1)
Lightning struck twice at Clemson on Saturday, but Boston College struck barely at all. The Eagles managed roughly 10 yards an hour in a looonnnnnngggg game twice halted by God’s angry bolts.
Last week: L at Clemson (25-7)
This week: vs. Wake Forest
|10 (10)||Duke (1-2)
For more than a quarter Saturday, the Blue Devils hung with #22 Kansas on the road. Duke has too little defense to slow a good offense and too little offense to keep pace with one. This week: the Durham Bowl, featuring Duke against N.C. Central. Football gods, why do you allow such trifles in Week 4?
Last week: L at Kansas (44-16)
This week: vs. N.C. Central
|11 (11)||Maryland (1-2)
Maryland lost by one to a Middle Tennessee. Is there a Left Tennessee State? A Right Tennessee State? Why don’t they use real directions in Tennessee? These questions are more substantial than any related to the Terrapins right now.
Last week: L vs. Middle Tennessee
This week: vs. Rutgers
|12 (12)||Virginia (0-3)
After half-assed efforts against Texas Christian and William & Mary, UVa got a three-quarters win at Southern Miss. That’s progress, I guess. Mercifully, the Cavs get a week off before playing at North Carolina on Oct. 3.
Last week: L at Southern Miss
This week: Idle