Clemson routed NC State in a battle of unbeatens with the Tigers prevailing and resulting in a new No. 2 team in the ACC power rankings.
Quite a few ACC teams took the week off, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t learn a lot about the conference in Week 8. The obvious takeaway is that Clemson erased any doubts over whether or not they’re the class of the ACC. Blowing out NC State 41-7 silenced any doubters.
The other big winner of the weekend was Virginia. They continue to play better and better football every week. Winning at Duke doesn’t sound like a great win, but it represents a massive step forward for Bronco Mendenhall’s program. The Cavaliers aren’t ACC title contenders, but they may be closer to the top of the standings than anyone envisioned when the season kicked off.
Of course, whenever there are winners there are losers as well. NC State fans have to be disappointed at their team’s failure to show up at Clemson. It’s not that anyone really expected them to win in such a tough environment, but Wolfpack fans hoped their team could keep it close. That didn’t happen.
We’ll start our power rankings with a team that can’t manage to make their way out of the basement. Not even double overtime could save Larry Fedora this week.
There are definitely signs of life for Larry Fedora’s program. They came within a play or two of knocking off Syracuse on Saturday. Unfortunately for Tar Heel fans, they came up short once again. The better news for North Carolina is they may have finally found a quarterback they can stick with. Nathan Elliott enjoyed a solid game against the Orange defense. He threw for 352 yards and more importantly, didn’t throw an interception. He may give Fedora and company an offensive weapon to build around if they’ve given the time to do so.
The good news for Bobby Petrino and company is that they got a week off to rest. The better news is that they host Wake Forest next weekend. It’s entirely possible they’ll be favored at home against the Demon Deacons. The game might even be a must-win for the Cardinals. If they lose to Wake Forest, look for Petrino’s name to show up on a lot of coaching hot seat lists.
Wake Forest raced out to a 10-0 lead in Tallahassee and it looked like they might be able to add to Florida State’s misery. Then the Seminoles front took over and stifled anything Sam Hartman’s offense wanted to get done. Dave Clawson’s team has to achieve more offensive balance in the future. They forced Hartman to throw the ball 46 times before giving way to Jamie Newman. That’s not a formula for success. Look for the Deacons to go back to the ground game next weekend at Louisville.