We’re now a full month into the 2022 football season, and as we head into the heart of ACC play, we’ve got a fresh new ACC Power Rankings for you.
The Tigers had a scare in Winston Salem last week, but they showed why they are in the top spot. DJ Uiagalelei is starting to come into his own, and the defense did enough when called upon to get the victory on the road against a competitive Wake Forest team. There is no time to pat themselves on the back as the No. 2 team in the conference comes to Death Valley this weekend.
2. NC State
The Wolfpack have rounded into form over the first four weeks of the season. The team beat a hot Texas Tech team with strong defense. Devin Leary has turned the ball over an uncharacteristic amount this season (two interceptions), and he will need to protect the ball this weekend in a marquee game against Clemson. I have seen growth from this team since Week 1 against ECU, and I can see them being the Atlantic Division representative in Charlotte. Their biggest game in decades is in front of them. Let’s see what this team has in store for the stretch run of the season.
3. Florida State
What a surprise surge for the ‘Noles. I honestly did not see this coming from them when I was looking at their schedule earlier in the year. The teams I thought would be strong have sunk to the bottom at the hands of Florida State. The team is exceptional with Jordan Travis under center, and have the talent around him to make a serious run in the Atlantic. It is nice to have Florida State back at the top of the rankings after what seems like an eternity of underachievement (it’s all relative), following Jimbo Fisher leaving for Texas A&M.
4. Wake Forest
What a heartbreaker for the Demon Deacons this past Saturday. The team is lights out offensively with Sam Hartman back, but they are just lacking ever so slightly on defense, which is keeping them from taking things to the next level. The offense will keep them in every game for the rest of the year, but the Atlantic is stacked. The reward for a close loss at home to Clemson? A road trip to Tallahassee with red hot Florida State.
This Pitt team has stayed stagnant for two weeks in the AP poll despite winning its games handedly. It’s because they have not played exciting football. The team is banged up at every level but doing enough to win. If the offense can get it together and the defense can return their starters at defensive end, then the Coastal Division could be for the taking. But they don’t have a lot of room for error. If they misstep, they could sink like a stone in these rankings.
Talk about defying expectations! The Orange is a surprising 4-0 led by Robert Anae’s balanced offense. The team got some help against Purdue two weeks with QB Aidan O’Connell tossing a bad pick-6 and two 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalties that helped move the ball to midfield on SU’s game-winning drive. But good teams take advantage of those opportunities and the Orange appears to be a good team. The stretch after Wagner is murderous, but don’t be surprised if the Orange shock one of the top dogs in the Atlantic Division. Dino Babers’ seat was warm when the season started but it has definitely cooled as of today.
7. North Carolina
The offense is still very good for UNC, but their defense is a real concern. The Tar Heels have benefited from an easy schedule up to this point, then Notre Dame and its meager offense dropped 45 points last week. The team has the firepower to keep them in most games and Drake Maye is a bonafide star, but they need to improve on the defensive side of the ball in a hurry. Let’s see if this team can put it all together for the stretch run.
Duke’s undefeated season came to an end in Lawrence, Kansas at the hands of the undefeated Jayhawks. The Blue Devils have done a complete 180 from a year ago and are proving to be a very tough out on a weekly basis. I am shocked to have them this high but they have played well enough to deserve it.
Louisville is a different team every week. Since their opening night stinker in Central New York, they’ve managed to put together two impressive wins while dropping a close one against Florida State. They can play with anyone on a nightly basis but they can also lose to anyone. No. 9 feels about right considering the teams behind them.
The U is definitely not back. Same circus, different ring master in Coral Gables. After an emotional loss to Texas A&M in College Station, the Hurricanes returned home to an empty, cavernous stadium and promptly laid an egg against Middle Tennessee State. They were completely outplayed by a far inferior opponent in a type of game that is all too familiar for fans of the U. Consistent motivation as always been the problem in South Beach and it appears to be issue again this year. The Hurricanes have a bye week before the playing North Carolina’s high-flying offense. The team is filled with individual talent, but it remains to be seen if they can make be more than the sum of the parts.
The Tony Elliott era has not started well in Charlottesville. Brennan Armstrong was one of the most electric players in the country a year ago, but now looks pedestrian. He is spending a lot of time on his back because the offensive line play is so poor, and it is astonishing that they can’t find any mojo from last year’s playbook. The schedule is not daunting, but a late season matchup with Coastal Carolina could be one where the Cavaliers get embarrassed by a team looking for a signature win.
12. Boston College
Woof. I thought the Eagles were a team on the rise at the beginning of the season, but they have not done very little on the positive side so far in 2022. Phil Jurkovec is getting pressured more than any other quarterback in the conference and it’s really holding this team back. The Steve Addazzio era was known for stout play in the trenches, but the Jeff Haffley era has been anything but that. Hopefully they can clean things up and keep Jurkovec healthy for the rest of the year.
13. Virginia Tech
The Hokies went 2-2 in Brent Pry’s first four games while looking terrible doing it. The team lost to Old Dominion to start the season but still had the place rocking when West Virginia showed up last Thursday. “Enter Sandman” was electric and 70K+ fans created an awesome environment for a game. The Hokies promptly deflated that stadium by getting throttled, 33-10, to their rival. This team is mediocre on defense and horrific on offense. The only good news is that Virginia may prove to be worse at season’s end.
14. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets have been awful all season, giving up 600+ yards rushing in their last two games. The school just fired their head coach and athletics director four weeks into the season, costing the program over $11 million in buyout money for Geoff Collins alone. It is an extreme rebuild at Georgia Tech with no real end of the misery in sight. I have no idea what they expected from this coach, but AD Todd Stansbury should have been fired a year ago for putting together a brutal schedule for a team trying to rebuild.