ACC Power Rankings Week 8: Looming Clemson-Notre Dame battle

Syracuse Wake Forest
Oct 31, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons running back Christian Beal-Smith (26) is tackled by a number of Syracuse Orange defenders in the first quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Lawrence missed Saturday’s game against Boston College, and his absence was conspicuous. He’s out again this weekend for the matchup with Notre Dame, with conference supremacy on the line. Elsewhere, Virginia upset UNC in the Border War. How did this effect the standings for the week? Keep reading to find out!

clemson1. Clemson (7-0)
WIN – Boston College (34-28)

You wanted excitement and you got it. With Trevor Lawrence out due to COVID-19, the Tigers turned to DJ Uiagalelei. The Tigers struggled mightily in the first half, and went into intermission down 28-13, but then proceeded to shut out BC in the second half. Clemson has depth all over the field, but it shows that you can’t always expect to turn it on at the press of a button. Lawrence is out again next week when they travel to South Bend to take on the Irish in the ACC game of the year. That one is going to be extra interesting now.

nd2. Notre Dame (6-0)
WIN – Ga. Tech (31-13)

The Irish flattened Georgia Tech in a largely uncompetitive contest for the second week in a row and also caught a bit of luck with Trevor Lawrence having to miss next Saturday’s matchup. The path to the ACC championship game just got a lot easier for Notre Dame.

miami3. Miami (5-1)
BYE

A bye week for the Hurricanes with lots of movement in the standings. Manny Diaz’s team benefits the most from the UNC loss. With one conference loss, they have the opportunity to move in to position for the title game with an Irish loss against Clemson.

Wake4. Wake Forest (4-2)
WIN – Syracuse (38-14)

Wake Forest is on a roll. They blew past Syracuse and jumped all the way up to No. 4 in the ACC Power Rankings. If you had that happening before the season please give me the power ball numbers as well. Dave Clawson is doing the most with his team and it shows that consistency and coaching is as important as recruiting. Wake doesn’t set the world on fire on the recruiting trail, but they play like a team and get the most out of their young men. Hats off to this team and staff.

unc5. North Carolina (4-2)
LOSS – NCST (44-41)

Rivalry games are never easy and in the 125th edition of the Border War, UVA it took to UNC early and held on in the end. UNC QB Sam Howell played well again, but the defense was a sieve allowing 200+ yards on the ground and through the air. It makes you wonder if the defense will catch up while Howell is still at UNC, but we’re presuming he heads the NFL next season. Next up is Duke which could not come at a better time for Mack Brown and his team.

vatech6. Virginia Tech (4-2)
WIN – Wake Forest (42-35)

The Hokies held off a strong Louisville team that put up 21 in the fourth quarter. This team plays everyone close, which probably isn’t a compliment since they should be putting some easier opponents away. They play Liberty next week which isn’t as much of a walk in the park as people presume, so we may learn a more about the Hokies after that one.

bc7. Boston College (4-3)
LOSS – Clemson (34-28)

After playing flawlessly in the first half against No. 1 Clemson, BC was completely flat in the second. Jeff Haffley had his team ready to play when they arrived in Death Valley and got a little bit of luck as they stormed out to a 28-13 halftime lead. But that was the end of it as Clemson scored 21 unanswered points with Lawrence out with COVID-19. There is a lot to be happy about in Chestnut Hill, but there are no moral victories at this level.

ncstate8. NC State (4-2)
BYE

A week off for the Wolfpack and they still miss Devin Leary as much as they did two weeks ago. Hopefully they can fix the back up QB play coming out of the break.

uva9. Virginia (2-4)
WIN – UNC (44-41)

The ‘Hoos played a complete game on offense with just enough defense to hold off the Tar Heels. These two teams hate each other and play very tight in every contest in all sports, so it was no surprise to see them pull the upset. Things could be turning around for the Cavaliers, but we will take it week-to-week with them with them jumping four spots this week.

louisville10. Louisville (2-5)
LOSS – Va. Tech (42-35)

Louisville continues to fight hard in every game, but keeps coming up short. The team has the talent but maybe not the experience. Let’s not forget that Scott Satterfield took over this team 18 months ago and they were a dumpster fire then. He will continue to improve the roster each year.

gatech11. Georgia Tech (2-5)
LOSS – Notre Dame (31-13)

The Yellow Jackets lost to the No. 3 team in the country, so there’s not much else to say here. The rebuild continues in Atlanta.

fsu12. Florida State (2-4)
BYE

An off week for the Seminoles which they needed. Let’s see what they do coming out of the break against Pitt at home.

» Related: Compare this week’s ACC power rankings to Week 7

Duke13. Duke (2-5)
WIN – 53-19

A win against Charlotte isn’t going to move the needle much. But it was a complete effort from David Cutcliffe’s team which shows that he hasn’t lost the locker room. Next up is a big opportunity against the cross town rival at home. The smart money is on the over.

pitt14. Pittsburgh (3-4)
LOSS – Notre Dame (45-3)

A much needed bye week for the Panthers. No news if Kenny Pickett will be back against Florida State and if he isn’t, well, then Pitt will be challenging Syracuse for that last spot in the power rankings.

Syracuse15. Syracuse (1-6)
LOSS – Wake Forest (38-14)

Another week, another loss to a conference foe. Wake Forest smacked around the Orange and it wasn’t really close at all. People have to be scratching their head wondering what Dino Babers is going to do to improve this team in the offseason.

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Sam Vescovi
About Sam Vescovi 6 Articles
Sam is from Pennsylvania, and is a three-time graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. In his free time, Sam watches ACC football... a lot of ACC football... perhaps too much. Sam covers the entire ACC.