Each week, the TNIAAM football staff will be ranking all 14 ACC teams in a completely subjective manner, just like everyone else on the internet. Feel like we're completely off base? Chime in with your own ACC power rankings below.
Six weeks in, all the ACC has established is that four teams appear to be head-and-shoulders above all the others, with two of those (Clemson and FSU) possibly head-and-shoulders above the other two (Virginia Tech and Miami) as well. Beyond those teams, it's a very muddled collection of average teams that haven't played anyone and above-average teams who've been hurt by their difficult slate to-date. We try to figure out where Syracuse falls in all this, but admittedly given the Orange's competition so far, it's still a bit of a guessing game...
Interested in seeing the individual voter breakdown? Check out the Google Doc here!
1. Clemson Tigers (5-0) (3-0) (LW: 1)
Last Week: W, 49-14 over Syracuse; Next Week: vs. Boston College
Highest Position: 1; Lowest Position: 1
Saturday's homecoming bludgeoning was not an easy pill for Syracuse fans to take, though I think we've all got a much better appreciation for the ACC's quality as well. Clemson is a juggernaut of an offensive team and even with Sammy Watkins seemingly hobbled during the game, he didn't have much trouble torching Orange defenders at all. The defense is also better than advertised, with Vic Beasley continuing his torrid sack pace (eight so far this year) to lead an impressive Tiger pass rush.
2. Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (3-0) (LW: 2)
Last Week: W, 63-0 over Maryland; Next Week: BYE
Highest Position: 2; Lowest Position: 2
Maryland really shouldn't have been ranked going into last week's matchup, but that's not really the point. Whether the opponent was ranked or not, Florida State still won a football game 63-0, which is no easy feat. After yet another stellar performance, Jameis Winston is now battling expectations and hype on the field each and every weekend from here on out. The matchup with Clemson in two weeks obviously looms large.
3. Miami Hurricanes (5-0) (1-0) (LW: 3)
Last Week: W, 45-30 over Georgia Tech; Next Week: BYE
Highest Position: 3; Lowest Position: 3
Miami just keeps plowing through opponents with a surprising balance of offense and defense. Despite being a bit banged up, Stephen Morris still threw for over 300 yards and three TDs. The defense, on the other hand, shed a rocky start to held down the Tech offense through the mid part of the game and allow the 'Canes to roar back.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1) (2-0) (LW: 4)
Last Week: W, 27-17 over North Carolina; Next Week: vs. Pittsburgh
Highest Position: 4; Lowest Position: 4
Tech didn't pick up its fifth win until the 11th game last year, so yes, this team is significantly better than last year's. The defense is as stout as ever, while the offense can find itself in spurts. Logan Thomas still wasn't perfect against UNC, but the fact that he could move the ball effectively enough to get it into the end zone three times is progress compared to much of the last two seasons.
5. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-2) (2-2) (LW: 6)
Last Week: L, 45-30 to Miami; Next Week: at BYU
Highest Position: 5; Lowest Position: 8
This is where a good deal of the guesswork begins. Tech's lost two straight, but those games have also been at the hands of the Coastal's top teams (Miami and Virginia Tech). Saturday's matchup in Provo, Utah should be telling, however. If the Wreck cruises by an average Cougars team, this a team that will skate into a postseason slot. Shoudl the struggle, however, the rest of this year immediately becomes a minefield.
6. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1) (2-1) (LW: 7)
Last Week: BYE; Next Week: at Virginia Tech
Highest Position: 6; Lowest Position: 7
Pitt hasn't been tested since week one against Florida State, so it'll be interesting to see what they've grown into since that unfortunate outcome. The Panthers' matchup against Virginia Tech will be a challenging one, but given the state of the Hokies' offense, perhaps they stand a chance. Should Pitt win, it would certainly toss a wrench in the gears of the Coastal almost immediately.
7. Maryland Terrapins (4-1) (0-1) (LW: 5)
Last Week: L, 63-0 to Florida State; Next Week: vs. Maryland
Highest Position: 5; Lowest Position: 9
If only we could drop them further... Maryland's loss to Florida State made Syracuse fans feel good for at least a little while, and it'll be a lot of fun to watch similar results from them every weekend in the Big Ten starting next season. Even before C.J. Brown was injured, the Terps' offense was quickly exposed as a unit feasting on chumps. We'll see if they can bounce back vs. UVa.
8. Boston College Eagles (3-2) (1-1) (LW: 10)
Last Week: W, 48-27 over Army; Next Week: at Clemson
Highest Position: 7; Lowest Position: 9
Now it's your turn, BC! Not to take away from the Eagles' nice win over Army, but it's time for them to face the buzzsaw that is the Clemson offense. For as well as Boston College has run the ball of late, I don't see how they can keep up with the Tigers for very long in this one, especially down in Death Valley.
9. NC State Wolfpack (3-2) (0-2) (LW: 8)
Last Week: L, 28-13 to Wake Forest; Next Week: vs. Syracuse
Highest Position: 7; Lowest Position: 14
NC State finally performed like the below-average squad we'd hoped they would be, and that gives SU fans some hope going into next week's game. Of course, that also ignores the apparent return of Brandon Mitchell at quarterback. While it's a small sample size, this offense ran a whole lot smoother with Mitchell under center rather than Pete Thomas. Given the offensive struggles of late, Dave Doeren is very likely to make that change if it's available to him.
10. Syracuse Orange (2-3) (0-1) (LW: 9)
Last Week: L, 49-14 to Clemson; Next Week: at NC State
Highest Position: 8; Lowest Position: 11
Syracuse certainly wasn't impressive against Clemson, but to say they were dominated also ignores the entire third quarter. If not for a few mental errors and some questionable play-calling, we're looking at a much smaller margin of victory here, though still a likely win for Clemson. So while things weren't all that positive in the box score, I'd hope SU took a few valuable lessons from the game to learn on as well.
11. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-3) (1-2) (LW: 14)
Last Week: W, 28-13 over NC State; Next Week: BYE
Highest Position: 10; Lowest Position: 11
Was last week's offensive "explosion" a mirage, or a sign of things to come for Wake? The jury's still out, especially given Tanner Price's surprising success running the football (82 yards and a TD), but perhaps they're not so dead after all. If we were chalking the Deacs up as an automatic win on the schedule, we may want to hold off for a bit -- at least to see if this team's back on the upswing.
12. Duke Blue Devils (3-2) (0-2) (LW: 12)
Last Week: BYE; Next Week: vs. Navy
Highest Position: 10; Lowest Position: 13
Duke benefits slightly from the futility of its conference-mates during the bye week, but that doesn't change the fact that this team has a boatload of issues. Sure, they can score a ton of points, but they also give up a ton of points as well. Navy should push them closer to another year of bowl eligibility, though even at 4-2, it's hard to shake the feeling this team just isn't good enough to make the postseason.
13. Virginia Cavaliers (2-3) (0-1) (LW: 11)
Last Week: L, 48-27 to Virginia; Next Week: at Maryland
Highest Position: 11; Lowest Position: 14
Getting throttled by a MAC team that's not NIU (even if Ball State has been fairly good lately) is still frowned upon for the most part. Virginia's offense once again proved it can't do much at all, while the defense -- something we figured was a strength -- also showed quite a few holes vs. the Cardinals. Given the tough schedule and issues on both sides of the ball now, UVa may be struggling the rest of the way.
14. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-4) (0-2)
Last Week: L, 27-17 to Virginia Tech; Next Week: BYE
Highest Position: 12; Lowest Position: 14
What a steep drop for North Carolina, from preseason Coastal pick to a dreadful 1-4 start that shows very little light at the end of the tunnel. The running game and secondary are the core problems for UNC, but there's just so much more wrong too. They can't sack opponents, can't complete passes consistently... can't do anything right, it seems. This has been a nightmare year for the Heels thus far and it's not even halfway over.