ACC tiers: Finding the ACC's contenders after Week 7
Seven weeks of ACC action are in the books, and there’s been plenty to learn.
Three teams with high expectations for this year — Clemson, North Carolina and Florida State — have all suffered multiple losses in the first two months of the season. Meanwhile, Wake Forest is enjoying an undefeated record and Pitt may have a Heisman Trophy finalist at quarterback.
There’s still a lot of football left to be played before bowl season. Here’s where things stand in the ACC so far:
None. Clemson has been a perennial College Football Playoff contender, but the Tigers have already suffered two losses. There are zero ACC teams currently ranked inside the top 15 of the AP Poll, and Wake Forest is the only team without a loss.
Wake Forest: Wake Forest is the ACC’s only remaining undefeated team entering Week 8. It’s been a dream season so far for the Demon Deacons, who are looking for their first 10-win season since 2006.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack have played just two conference games so far, but they’ve been impressive. The schedule is clear of ranked teams until they travel to Wake Forest on Nov. 13.
Clemson: The Tigers don’t look like themselves this year, but it’s too early to count them out of the ACC hunt. With only one conference loss, things could still get interesting. Clemson gets Wake Forest at home on Nov. 20.
Pittsburgh: Kenny Pickett has been outstanding this year and looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He currently has a QB efficiency rating of 181.8, which puts him near elite company in college football history. The Panthers have a sizable edge over the rest of the division at this point.
Virginia: The Cavaliers smoked Duke in Week 7 and have one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the nation in Brennan Armstrong. They’ll need some help with two conference losses already, but they seem like the most likely champion of the Coastal if Pitt slips up. Virginia travels to Pitt on Nov. 20.
Mostly competent, but not a contender
Boston College: Boston College is 4-2 this season and could be 5-1 if it had found a way to finish off Clemson earlier this month. A blowout loss to NC State took some of the shine off the Eagles’ season so far, but they’ve been competent.
Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech has arguably the most confusing résumé in the entire ACC through six weeks. A huge win over North Carolina, but stunning home losses to Northern Illinois and Pitt. The Yellow Jackets also played Clemson tough and pulled out a win over Duke on the road. They aren’t consistent week-to-week but there’s shades of competency here.
Underwhelming and disappointing
North Carolina: The season officially went off the rails in Week 6 as the Tar Heels were upset by Florida State at home. Miami nearly made a massive comeback last week, too. UNC is now 4-3 on the year and still has four ranked games remaining on its schedule.
Florida State: The Seminoles are 2-4 this year, but have wins in back-to-back weeks over Syracuse and North Carolina. Mike Norvell needs a strong finish to the season, and FSU has the roster talent to do it.
Louisville: It’s been a tough year for Scott Satterfield and the Cardinals, who have dropped close games in back-to-back weeks. Louisville likely needs to pick up wins over Boston College, Syracuse and Duke to reach bowl eligibility.
Virginia Tech: It’s been a whirlwind season for the Hokies, who are reeling after a disappointing loss to Pitt in Week 7. Losing to the Panthers takes them out of division contender status for now.
Probably not making a bowl
Miami: Miami suffered two blowout losses in nonconference play, and couldn’t get in the win column in its ACC opener vs. Virginia back on Sept. 30 or vs. North Carolina in Week 7. The Hurricanes have failed to establish an identity to this point and aren’t likely to make a bowl game.
Duke: The Blue Devils briefly rebounded from a season-opening loss to Charlotte, but a blowout loss to Virginia is a step in the wrong direction. They are 3-4 and could be underdogs in each of their final five contests.
Syracuse: The Orange are 0-4 this season against Power 5 competition, including a trio of 3-point losses to ACC foes. Virginia Tech, North Carolina State and Pittsburgh still remain on the schedule.