1. Clemson (4–0, 2–0 Atlantic Coast) ↔
Clemson started the year, as it often does, as a consensus favorite to win the ACC. He survived what will likely prove to be the first of his two biggest Tests of the year last week at Wake Forest in a fierce contest that took two extra times to decide. For their effort last week, QB DJ Uiagalelei, running back Will Shipley and the rest of the Tigers are rewarded with the second of those two Tests as the Tigers host NC State on Saturday night. ESPN’s College GameDay will travel to Death Valley for the game. The Tigers are still in contention for a spot in the CFP if they can survive next week and the rest of their ACC schedule.
Next Up: vs. NC State, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
2. NC state (4–0, 0–0) ↑
The Wolfpack has become a force in the ACC over the past few years, and the formula has remained largely the same this year. Devin Leary’s effective quarterback play and effective scoring defense led the Wolfpack to a 4-0 start. But NC State has played an easy slate so far, and its inability to run the ball could prove to be a problem as it takes on Clemson this Saturday – a team loaded with NFL talent on the defensive line, including Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy.
Next Up: at Clemson, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
3. Wake Forest (3–1, 0–1) ↑
Sam Hartman’s return thrilled football fans in Winston-Salem and across the country, but his heroic efforts weren’t enough to defeat Clemson last week. But losing in overtime to the best team in the ACC doesn’t mean the Demon Deacons are worse than the rest of their 4-0 ACC opponents. Wake Forest’s game against Florida State will provide a lot of clarity on how the top tier of ACC teams will end this season. Hartman has passed for at least 300 yards in each of his three games so far, and the Seminoles are yet to allow 300 yards through the air. Something’s got to give, and whatever force wins will likely lead his team to victory and interior positioning to challenge Clemson in the ACC Atlantic.
Next Up: at Florida State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
4. Florida State (4–0, 2–0) ↑
The tables turned in Tallahassee a year ago. The Seminoles started last season with four losses, and this year they started with four wins and are already just one win away from last season’s total. After a 30-point demolition of Boston College, the Seminoles carry a lot of momentum in the first third of their season. Jordan Travis, an elite running offense and ball-peddling defense rekindled hope for a team that hadn’t been so hopeful in nearly a decade. They’ll face Wake Forest, NC State and Clemson over the next three games, but if the Seminoles can pull off at least a win or two on that streak, they’ll have a shot at one of their best seasons since the Era. James Winston.
Next Up: vs. Wake Forest, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
5. Syracuse (4–0, 2–0) ↓
Nobody really expected Orange to rank so high to start the year. Syracuse needed five field goals from kicker Andre Szmyt to defeat Virginia last week, but the job was done. Quarterback Garrett Shrader and star running back Sean Tucker both put on pedestrian performances against Virginia, but they shouldn’t need to do much better to beat opponent FCS Wagner this week. A chance to start 5-0 is rare for Syracuse, but the Orange have a chance.
Next Up: vs. Wagner, Saturday, 5 p.m.
6. Pittsburgh (3–1, 0–0) ↔
The first ACC Coast team to make the roster, the Panthers rebounded from their loss to Tennessee in Week 2 to claim two straight wins. Israel Abanikanda led the way against Rhode Island with 177 rushing yards and four scores. Pitt will stay home and hope to deliver a performance similar to his comfortable three-touchdown win last week against a struggling Georgia Tech team in Week 5.
Next Up: vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday, 8 p.m.
7. Duke (3–1, 0–0) ↔
Duke lost a one-score game in a two-game blue blood basketball matchup against Kansas last week. Despite the loss, Riley Leonard gave the Blue Devils the consistent quarterback play they’ve been missing in recent years, and he showed up against the Jayhawks passing for over 300 yards and completing 69% of his passes. Duke will begin its ACC season this week against Virginia.
Next Up: vs. Virginia, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
8. North Carolina (3–1, 0–0) ↑
The Tar Heels disappointed many this year, failing to meet their preseason expectations. But the North Carolina attack was not the source of this disappointment. Averaging over 46 points per game, the Tar Heels powerhouse offense ranks 16th in the nation in total offense. On the other side of the ball, however, North Carolina is also giving up 39.5 points per game, good for 252nd in the nation. The Tar Heels’ final game against Notre Dame ended in their first loss of the year after two narrow wins against Group of Five teams. No one knows how that style of play will translate to an ACC schedule, but North Carolina’s defense will have to support Drake Maye and the offense if it is to compete in a weak ACC Coast Division.
Next Up: vs. Virginia Tech, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
9. Louisville (2–2, 0–2) ↓
The Cardinals are 0-2 so far in ACC play, but that didn’t matter as they topped South Florida last week with a 41-3 win. tripling more than the Bulls in total yards. Louisville will have to play more like this in its game against BC if it wants to break its ACC losing streak. Malik Cunningham’s elite running ability will help the Cardinals earn their first conference victory against a struggling BC running defense.
Next Up: at Boston College, Saturday, 12 p.m.
10. Virginia Tech (2–2, 1–0) ↔
The Hokies have had a rocky start to the season. Last week was definitely a down week as Virginia Tech suffered a 23-point loss at the hands of West Virginia. The Hokies have struggled to get things done on the field, a common theme for them this season. Virginia Tech will have to follow North Carolina’s electric offense this week on the road.
Next Up: in North Carolina, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
11. Virginia (2–2, 0–1) ↑
Virginia nearly knocked Syracuse down on the road in their last game, but their potentially game-winning drive collapsed in midfield when time expired. The Cavaliers hit the road this week at Duke, which should be an interesting game that features two fairly similar teams at similar positions in the ACC. Against Duke, Brennan Armstrong will have a chance for redemption after completing just 50% of her passing attempts for 138 passing yards last week.
Next Up: at Duke, 7:30 p.m.
12. Miami (2–2, 0–0) ↑
Perhaps the ACC’s biggest disappointment this season, the once-highly ranked Hurricanes lost by two runs to Middle Tennessee last weekend after being outplayed in the air. Miami allowed the Blue Raiders 507 total rushing yards in the loss. The Hurricanes will have a well-deserved week off in Week 5 with plenty of room for improvement. Miami will look to bolster its pass defense against North Carolina after their bye.
Next stop: vs. North Carolina, Oct. 8, 4 p.m.
13. Georgia Tech (1–3, 0–1) ↓
The Yellow Jackets struggled to replace Jahmyr Gibbs, who moved to Alabama in the offseason. Georgia Tech’s only win this season came against West Carolina, which just lost to Sanford by a bigger margin than to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets will likely struggle to win an ACC game this year, and Pitt Saturday isn’t one of their best chances for a win. They’ve scored 10 points in their last two games, which won’t be enough to beat the Panthers, who are averaging 36 points per game.
Next Up: at Pitt, Saturday, 8 p.m.
14. Boston College (1–3, 0–2) ↔
Not much is looking good for the Eagles after four games. After showing promise against Maine, all hope was dashed in a blowout 44–14 loss to Florida State in which the Seminoles doubled the Eagles on all-out offense. BC will have to try to regroup to stop Cunningham and the Cardinals and earn their first ACC victory or it will be a long season for Eagles fans.
Next Up: vs. Louisville, Saturday, 12 p.m.