ACC Power Rankings: Week Two
While Saturday wasn't quite perfect for the ACC, it was a solid weekend and a good start for conference redemption with several teams getting back on track.
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1. Virginia Tech Hokies: What would you say if someone told you before the season started that by week two, Virginia Tech's offense would rank ahead of Oklahoma State's, and that a Hokie running back (not named Darren Evans) would not only lead the ACC in rushing yards and touchdowns, but rank among the top 15 nationally in every major rushing category? Yes, most of those gaudy stats came against a weaker Marshall team but don't forget Ryan Williams had 113 total yards and two touchdowns against a dominant Alabama defense in his first career start. He'll face another tough defense Saturday, when Nebraska comes to town.
T2. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Georgia Tech looked unstoppable Thursday night, in the first quarter that is; after that Clemson adjusted and virtually shut down the triple-option, holding the Yellow Jackets to just three field goals. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt was horrendous as a passer, of his 14 pass attempts, five were caught--two of them by Clemson defenders. However, when it mattered most Nesbitt made the play he needed to, a 39-yard completion to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas that led to Georgia Tech's game winning field goal.
T2. Miami Hurricanes: Miami was idle in week two and now shares the number two spot with a Georgia Tech team they'll see Thursday night in LandShark Stadium, the same team that dismantled them last year. With ten days to prepare and video of the clinic Clemson put on last Thursday to review, the Hurricanes better be ready for the same Georgia Tech offense that ran wild on them a year ago. Thursday night's winner jumps out in front of the Coastal division race.
4. North Carolina Tar Heels: It wasn't the prettiest game but North Carolina got the job done against Connecticut playing on the road. The Tar Heels defense kept them in the game all afternoon, and held the Huskies scoreless in the fourth-quarter allowing for North Carolina to complete their comeback and edge UConn 12-10.
5. Clemson Tigers: Give Clemson credit, they showed some serious toughness and resiliency not normally seen by the Tigers and never gave up when it looked like Georgia Tech was about to run them off the field. In the end Clemson's amazing comeback fell just a little bit short, but the loss is one they can definitely build off of. The Tigers are clearly contenders in the Atlantic and freshman quarterback Kyle Parker looks like he could be a special player.
6. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: After a slow start Riley Skinner and the Demon Deacons rallied from a 14-point half-time deficit to knock off Stanford 24-17. Up next for Wake Forest is an Elon club that has won its first two games by a combined score of 97-7. The ACC has had a few problems with pesky FCS teams this year, but Wake Forest is a verteran group and shouldn't have too much trouble dispatching the little guys.
7. Florida State Seminoles: After a fantastic game with Miami ended heartbreakingly for the Seminoles, it was understandable if Florida State had a sluggish start on Saturday. However, needing a last minute comeback to beat an FCS opponent in Jacksonville State is a bit alarming. Sure, Saturday's meeting with the Gamecocks was sandwiched between a gut-wrenching loss and a looming road-trip to BYU making it an ideal "trap-game," but Florida State should have been better prepared, they can't afford to play like that in Provo.
T8. Boston College Eagles: Boston College has looked great crushing weaker opponents and now get their first real test when they travel to Death Valley for an ACC showdown with the Clemson Tigers. Eagle quarterbacks Dave Shinskie and Justin Tuggle have both faired well in their first two games, and Clemson could offer a chance for one of them to perhaps separate himself and claim the job. Boston College has been a pleasant surprise this year and a win over Clemson would announce them as legitimate contenders in the Atlantic.
T8. NC State Wolfpack: What a difference a defense makes. A week after managing a single field goal against South Carolina, Russell Wilson's Wolfpack dropped 65 points on Murray State before the third quarter had even ended. An impressive showing, but also a bit misleading considering the sub-par quality of Murray State's defense. We should get a better indication of how good NC State's offense really is in a couple weeks when they're tested by a tough Pittsburgh defense.
10. Duke Blue Devils: Yes, the Duke Blue Devils have ascended to the top 10 of the ACC, why not? Could they really be better than the Terrapins? Well, ask yourself if Duke would have really fared any worse than Maryland did against Cal, and while the Terps needed overtime to beat FCS division JMU, Duke was beating an improved FBS division Army team by double-digits. However, if Duke's football dreams are as big as they say they are, a signature win over No. 22 Kansas on the road would really make some noise.
11. Maryland Terrapins: Optimists will point out that JMU is one of the best FCS teams in the country, but realists know Maryland hasn't gotten off to a good start. But hey, as of right now the Terps are tied for first with everyone else in the Atlantic, so the season isn't over. That said, Maryland needs to get things going Saturday against a mediocre Middle Tennessee State team that shocked them last year, or they could be in for a very long year.
12. Virginia Cavaliers: Head coach Al Groh is already on the hot seat after two weeks and its only going to get hotter if the Cavaliers can't stop the bleeding soon. Unfortunately things don't get any easier Saturday when Virginia hits the road to play Southern Miss; a dangerous team that could probably knock off a handful of ranked schools if you haven't already heard of them. Until they make something good happen, Virginia is stuck at the bottom.
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