For the first time in who knows how long -- maybe ever -- I picked every game right, but that’s not necessarily a good thing for the ACC, as there were no upsets against ranked teams. For once, most games played out as scripted. There was no movement at the top of the rankings or the bottom, but there was some shuffling in the middle. It’s still anyone’s game, but some teams definitely earned a bit more respect at least within the conference this week. Here’s a look at how the ACC shakes out after three weeks:
1. Miami (1-1, Last week: No. 1) – The Hurricanes don’t get penalized for having the bye week, and it’s important to remember they lost to Ohio State, the No. 2 team in the country, not Ohio. The Hurricanes will have a chance to reassert themselves on Thursday night in a tough road trip at Pitt.
2. Clemson (2-1, LW: No. 2) – The Tigers played a respectable game on the road against a ranked SEC team, but made too many mistakes in the loss to Auburn. Clemson’s defense couldn’t make a stop in the third quarter, but the Tigers have a bye week to regroup before a tough home game against Miami.
3. NC State (3-0, LW: No. 3) – It’s the first 3-0 start for the program in eight years, and the Wolfpack continued to build on their defensive progress in the win over Cincinnati. Quarterback Russell Wilson shook off any rust he might have had from concentrating on baseball in the offseason, and the Pack are off to a better than expected start.
4. Florida State (2-1, LW: No. 4) – The Seminoles rebounded from their loss to Oklahoma with a convincing 34-10 win over BYU, and the defense allowed just 39 yards in the second half. If FSU plays that way against Wake Forest this weekend, it should be off to a 1-0 start in the ACC race.
5. Georgia Tech (2-1, LW: No. 9) – The Yellow Jackets got just enough on both sides of the ball to squeak out a win at Chapel Hill and start 1-0 in conference play. The defense will face an even bigger test on Saturday against Wilson and NC State.
6. Boston College (2-0, LW: No. 5) – The Eagles aren’t being punished for their bye week, rather Georgia Tech has been rewarded for winning a conference game on the road. BC will host Virginia Tech on Saturday in its first real test of the season.
7. Virginia Tech (1-2, LW: No. 10) – The Hokies showed some heart, climbing out of a 10-0 deficit and beating ECU at home, despite losing running back Ryan Williams to a hamstring injury in the second quarter. The Hokies trailed 27-21 in the third quarter and are banged-up, but that’s the kind of gutsy win that could be a turning point in the season.
8. Wake Forest (2-1, LW: No. 6) – From coast to coast, the Deacs have struggled on defense, but a road loss to ranked Stanford wasn’t exactly a shocker. Wake is still where it needs to be in the ACC race -- with a win. The defense is going to have to work hard this week, though, if it’s going to slow down Christian Ponder & Co. in Tallahassee.
9. Virginia (1-1, LW: No. 8) - The Cavaliers stay status quo after their bye week and face VMI at home. If they play the say they did at USC, the Hoos should be 2-1.
10. North Carolina (0-2, LW: No. 11) – The Tar Heels are getting credit for their effort and respectable performances -- you know, staying in the game and keeping it close, which the remaining three teams weren’t able to do. Still, as long as UNC is missing six starters on defense, it’s going to be an uphill battle.
11. Maryland (2-1, LW: No. 7) – The loss at West Virginia wasn’t surprising, but Maryland is facing some serious durability questions at quarterback. Jamarr Robinson hurt his throwing shoulder, Danny O'Brien injured his ankle for the second straight week and C.J. Brown is already out.
12. Duke (1-2, LW: No. 12) – There is still a huge disparity between Duke and the No. 1 program in the nation, and that’s to be expected. The Blue Devils were able to score a touchdown against an Alabama defense that hadn’t allowed a touchdown in its first two games, but if Duke’s defense doesn’t clamp down, it could be another long season.