The top of the ACC power rankings hasn’t changed much this season. The top four teams in the conference seem to be Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami. However, Maryland has been impressive in its 4-0 start, and Virginia Tech has one of the conference’s best defenses.
The Terrapins and Yellow Jackets scored the ACC’s most-impressive wins of Week 4, as Maryland shutout West Virginia 37-0, while Georgia Tech beat North Carolina 28-20.
North Carolina is 1-2, but the Tar Heels have dropped games against South Carolina and Georgia Tech. Although coach Larry Fedora’s team is off to a slow start, North Carolina shouldn’t be counted out of the Coastal Division title picture.
Pittsburgh’s offense has been impressive in three games, but the Panthers rank last in the ACC in total defense.
Syracuse and Wake Forest picked up much-needed victories in Week 4.
ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Clemson (3-0, 1-0): The Tigers started slow but eventually overpowered NC State for a solid 26-14 victory. Clemson’s trailed 7-6 late into the second quarter, but quarterback Tajh Boyd made some key plays, while the defense stepped up in the second half to limit the Wolfpack to just seven points in the final two quarters. Boyd didn’t have a huge performance but finished with 244 yards and three scores. Defensive end Vic Beasley wrecked havoc on NC State’s offensive line, recording five tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble. Clemson has a favorable schedule the next few weeks, with all eyes focused on the upcoming Oct. 19 showdown against Florida State. Next Week: Wake Forest
Florida State (3-0, 1-0): As expected, the Seminoles had little trouble with Bethune-Cookman, cruising to a 54-6 victory. Florida State’s offense was efficient, averaging 8.1 yards per play and punted only three times. Running back Devonta Freeman topped 100 yards for the second consecutive game, but converted defensive back Karlos Williams continued to turn heads, rushing for 83 yards and two scores on nine attempts. Even with linebacker Christian Jones suspended, Florida State’s defense held Bethune-Cookman to 242 yards and recorded three sacks and seven tackles for a loss. The Seminoles have a few areas to patch during practice this week, but coach Jimbo Fisher should be feeling confident about his team. Next Week: at Boston College
Miami (3-0, 0-0): Considering Savannah State is one of the worst FCS teams, it’s hard to learn too much about Miami. The Hurricanes thoroughly dominated the Tigers, recording 77 points, 637 yards and 27 first downs – and those numbers were largely done without quarterback Stephen Morris. The senior suffered an ankle injury but is expected to play next Saturday. Miami’s defense also feasted on an overmatched opponent, registering four sacks and six tackles for a loss. The Hurricanes have one more opportunity to fine-tune both sides of the ball before playing two huge ACC contests in early October. Next Week: at South Florida
Georgia Tech (3-0, 2-0): The Yellow Jackets passed the first test in a difficult stretch of games, rallying to defeat North Carolina 28-20. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 20-7 lead, but Georgia Tech’s defense and rushing attack controlled the game in the second half. Coach Paul Johnson’s decision to hire Ted Roof as the defensive coordinator has already paid dividends, as the Yellow Jackets rank fourth in the ACC in yards allowed and are holding opponents to 11.3 points per game. Georgia Tech is the only 2-0 team in ACC play, but key Coastal games against Virginia Tech and Miami are up next. Next Week: Virginia Tech
Maryland (4-0, 0-0): West Virginia is in rebuild mode, but Maryland’s 37-0 victory over the Mountaineers was one of the most-impressive wins by an ACC team in Week 4. A rainy day in Baltimore prevented the Terrapins from reaching 500 total yards for a fourth consecutive game, but quarterback C.J. Brown finished with 243 overall yards and two scores. The defense held West Virginia to 175 total yards and recorded eight tackles for a loss. Maryland’s win over the Mountaineers on Saturday was its first in this series since the 2004 Gator Bowl. Next Week: Bye
Virginia Tech (3-1, 0-0): Another week, another close call for the Hokies against a Conference USA team. A touchdown toss from quarterback Logan Thomas to receiver Willie Byrn tied the game at 21 with just over three minutes to play to send the game into overtime. Special teams had an up-and-down performance for coach Frank Beamer, as Virginia Tech blocked a field goal and punt. However, with kicker Cody Journell suspended, field goals were an issue, as Ethan Keyserling missed all three of his attempts. There’s no question the Hokies have a defense capable of winning the Coastal Division, but the offense is still a question mark. Virginia Tech went 2 of 16 on third-down attempts, and Thomas finished 18 of 34 for 181 yards and two picks. Next Week: at Georgia Tech (Thursday)
North Carolina (1-2, 0-1): The Tar Heels did a better job defending Georgia Tech’s offense after giving up 68 points last season, but it wasn’t enough for North Carolina to earn the victory. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 20-7 lead before halftime, however, the offense had only one drive of longer than 10 yards in the second half. North Carolina’s defense was on the field for 40:38 and allowed 324 rushing yards to the Yellow Jackets. With a tight division race expected in the Coastal, losing to Georgia Tech is an early setback for North Carolina. However, upcoming games against Virginia Tech and Miami will give Larry Fedora’s team a chance to make a statement. Next Week: East Carolina
Pittsburgh (2-1, 1-1): The Panthers earned their first victory in the ACC, outscoring Duke in a 58-55 shootout. Pittsburgh’s defense has struggled this year, but the offense ranks fourth in the conference in yards per game, averaging 7.7 yards per play. Quarterback Tom Savage tossed six touchdown passes against the Blue Devils, while true freshmen James Conner and Tyler Boyd combined for 327 yards and four scores. An oddity about Pittsburgh’s upcoming schedule: The next three opponents are all from Virginia. Next Week: Virginia
Virginia (2-1, 0-0): The Cavaliers easily handled VMI on Saturday, recording a 49-0 win over the Keydets. The shutout was the first for Virginia since 2008. The Cavaliers recorded 357 rushing yards, including 136 from walk-on freshman Daniel Hamm. Quarterback David Watford threw for two touchdowns, but the sophomore tossed two picks, giving him six interceptions in 2013. The victory over VMI was a good rebound for Virginia, especially after losing to Oregon in Week 2. The Cavaliers are on the road in two out of the next three weeks. Next Week: at Pittsburgh
NC State (2-1, 0-1): The Wolfpack gave Clemson a battle, but coach Dave Doeren simply doesn’t have the offensive firepower with quarterback Brandon Mitchell sidelined. Pete Thomas threw for 213 yards against the Tigers, but NC State’s offense misses Mitchell’s dual-threat ability. One bright spot in the Thursday night loss was the play of the defensive line. The Wolfpack recorded 12 tackles for a loss and two sacks. NC State has a favorable schedule the next three weeks and could be 5-1 going into a road test against Florida State on Oct. 26. Next Week: Central Michigan
Boston College (2-1, 1-0): The Eagles were the only ACC team out of action in Week 4. But an early bye week for a team with a new coaching staff and schemes on both sides of the ball isn’t necessarily a bad thing with the heart of ACC play upcoming. How much has Boston College improved since last year? With matchups against Florida State and Clemson in two of the next three games, the Eagles should have a good idea if they have been able to close the gap with the best of the Atlantic. Next Week: Florida State
Syracuse (2-2, 0-0): The Orange had a rough start to the season, but Scott Shafer’s team has rebounded with back-to-back wins. The competition hasn’t been outstanding, but the offense has scored 106 points in the last two games. Quarterback Terrel Hunt has led the turnaround, throwing for seven touchdowns and zero picks during that span. The sophomore is clearly the No. 1 quarterback over Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen. Syracuse’s defense has work to do during the bye week, especially the secondary with a matchup against Clemson coming on Oct. 5. Next Week: Bye Week
Duke (2-2, 0-2): After starting 2-0, the Blue Devils have dropped back-to-back games. Duke scored 55 points against Pittsburgh, but the defense simply had no answer for Pittsburgh. The Panthers recorded 598 yards, averaging 7.6 yards per play, and quarterback Tom Savage torched the Blue Devils for 424 yards and six scores through the air. Duke’s offense recorded 532 overall yards, but four interceptions from quarterback Brandon Connette proved to be costly in a three-point game. Although it’s only Week 4, the Blue Devils’ bowl hopes took a hit with the loss to Pittsburgh, and there’s not much margin for error the rest of the way. Next Week: Troy
Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1): After back-to-back losses, the Demon Deacons desperately needed a win against Army. Thanks to 96 yards from running back Josh Harris, Wake Forest showed a few signs of breaking out of an offensive funk, while earning a hard-fought 25-11 victory over the Black Knights. The Demon Deacons averaged a season-best 5.8 yards per play in Saturday’s win, and a struggling offensive line allowed only one sack. Coach Jim Grobe can’t be pleased with his offense, but Saturday’s performance was a step in the right direction. Next Week: at Clemson
ACC Week 4 Awards and Recap
Offensive Player of the Week: Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
Through three games, Savage doesn’t look like a player who didn’t throw a pass on the FBS level from 2011-12. The senior turned in his best passing effort of 2013 against Duke on Saturday, completing 23 of 33 passes for 424 yards and six touchdowns. Savage’s six touchdown passes were the most by a Pittsburgh quarterback since Pete Gonzalez tossed seven against Rutgers in 1997, while also tying an ACC single-game record. After three games, Savage has thrown nine touchdown tosses to four interceptions and has topped 200 passing yards in each start.
Defensive Player of the Week: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
We need to give a tip of the cap to Maryland safety A.J. Hendy after he recorded one interception and recovered two fumbles against West Virginia, but Beasley earns our ACC Defensive Player of the Week honor. Beasley dominated NC State’s offensive line on Thursday night, recording five tackles (with three going for a loss) and three sacks. The junior also forced a fumble and broke up two passes. Clemson’s held NC State to 378 overall yards, with one of its two touchdowns coming when the game was out of reach.
Coordinator of the Week: Ted Roof, Georgia Tech
The defense hasn’t been always strength for coach Paul Johnson during his tenure at Georgia Tech, but that could be changing in 2013. After giving up 20 points to North Carolina in the first 22 minutes, the Yellow Jackets held the Tar Heels without a score the rest of the way. North Carolina’s offense also went 0-4 on third-down attempts in the second half and only one Tar Heel drive in the final two quarters went longer than 10 yards. Georgia Tech’s defense allowed North Carolina to average six yards per play and registered only one sack, but the Yellow Jackets stepped up in the second half with the game on the line.
Team of the Week: Georgia Tech
After a 68-50 shootout between Georgia Tech and North Carolina last season, another high-scoring affair was expected on Saturday. However, weather and defense won out this year, as the Tar Heels and Yellow Jackets combined for 48 points. Georgia Tech fell behind 13-0 but rallied behind a solid defensive effort and quarterback Vad Lee. The Yellow Jackets did not allow a point in the second half, and Lee was responsible for two touchdowns and 159 overall yards. Georgia Tech is 2-0 in ACC play, but the schedule won’t get any easier the next two weeks, as a Thursday home date against Virginia Tech is up next, followed by a road game at Miami on Oct. 5.
Freshmen of the Week: James Conner, RB/Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
We usually give this award to just one freshman each week, but it’s impossible to leave off Boyd or Conner after their performances against Duke. Conner gashed the Blue Devils’ defense for 173 yards and one touchdown, averaging 6.7 per attempt on 26 carries. Boyd continued his hot start to the season, catching eight passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Boyd’s total could have been even higher, but he suffered a thigh injury in the fourth quarter and was forced to miss some action. With Boyd and Conner playing at a high level just three games into their career, the future looks bright for Pittsburgh in the ACC.
• In his last two games, Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt has completed 31 of 39 passes for 446 yards and seven touchdowns.
• Duke receiver Jamison Crowder recorded 279 all-purpose yards in Saturday’s 58-55 loss to Pittsburgh.
• After recording back-to-back games of 100 receiving yards, Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs caught only two passes for 13 yards against West Virginia.
• Miami freshman running back Gus Edwards rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns on 12 attempts.
• Miami quarterback Stephen Morris left Saturday’s game against Savannah State with an ankle injury, but X-rays revealed only a sprain.
• Linebacker Stephone Anthony led all Clemson defenders with 14 stops on Thursday night against NC State.