ACC Power Rankings: Hokies Loss Shakes Up the Top Spot in Conference

Isaiah ClarkCorrespondent ISeptember 7, 2010

Christian Ponder threw four touchdown passes on opening day
Christian Ponder threw four touchdown passes on opening day

Talk about a great first week of college football.  There were upsets, come from behind wins, controversial calls and blow outs.  That pedigree right there makes any college football fan happy. 

The ACC has gotten off to a strong start going 10-2 in the first week.  As a conference fans should be pretty excited with the way things turned out for the ACC during week one.

The biggest surprise from the first week was watching North Carolina almost pull off the come from behind win against LSU.

Had they done that, not only would they have shocked LSU but they would have shocked the entire sports world, considering all that they are going through.

There won’t be many surprises with the first edition of the ACC Football Power Rankings, but I am sure there will be some disgruntled fans.

12. Maryland (1-0): What an upset, wait a minute it was only Navy.  The Terrapins were still underdogs and it was a big win for them considering they were coming off a 7 game losing streak that dated back to last year.

They were outplayed in every facet of the game, except for the turnovers and the final score, which is most important.

The Terrapins held the Navy Midshipman on the last play of the game at the goal line with 37 seconds left, securing the 17-14 win.

11. Virginia  (1-0): Virginia was able to get off on the right foot as they took care of business against the Richmond Spiders 34-13.

Cavalier’s running back Keith Payne just may have made a name for himself with the way he ran over the Spiders.

At one point during the game he exploded through the line of scrimmage with defenders draped on to him but unable to bring him down.  He was able to tally four rushing touchdowns with his thunderous runs.

"We have a lot of guys on this team right now that are ready to break out," said quarterback Marc Vercia. "There were some plays there where he was just enforcing his will. It was special to watch."

Vercia also had a good game finishing with 283 yards passing and a touchdown.

10. Wake Forest (1-0): The Presbyterian Blue Hose would have been better off staying on the bus.  They allowed Wake Forest to put up their highest point total in a season opener in 69 years.

The Demon Deacons got out of the gates quick and never looked back, scoring 21 points in the first quarter, with the final being 53-13.

Jim Grobe is in a little bit of a rebuilding stage.

Losing a lot of players from last season, including starting quarterback Riley Skinner.  The defensive line is extremely inexperienced, which is going to cause a problem for this team.

Don’t expect them to be putting up this many points all season either as the schedule doesn’t have anymore Presbyterians left on it.

9. Duke (1-0): The Blue Devils opened up with a 41-27 victory over the Elon Phoenix.  The defense may not have been as good as it needs to be to repeat last year’s success, but quarterback Sean Renfree may have opened a few eyes.

Coming off a season ending ACL tear last year, there was no telling what this sophomore quarterback would do, but he didn’t let that affect him.  He threw the ball with authority and precision, ending up with 350 yards and two touchdowns. 

After the game Renfree had this to say, “Sometimes you’ve got it and other days you don’t. Fortunately for myself and my teammates today I had it.”

This is a good sign to see for the Blue Devils but they are going to need more of this play if they have any plans on making a bowl game this year.

8. N.C. State (1-0): Tom O’Brien needed this win more than peanut butter needs jelly.  For the first time in his four year tenure at N.C. State, the Wolfpack finally won their season opener, defeating the West Carolina Catamounts 48-7.

Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson got off to a hot start, passing for 306 yards and four touchdowns.  A reassuring statement for the offense and the team as they will only go as far as Wilson takes them.

The defense didn’t allow the Catamounts to sniff the red zone once and linebacker Nate Irving, who returned to the defense after missing all of last season due to a car crash was a big reason for that.

I can attest from watching this game, he looks better than he did before the car accident. 

O’Brien will need his team to play like this every week or he could be kissing his head coaching job goodbye. 

7. Boston College (1-0): It was an emotional day for Boston College as Linebacker Mark Herzlich returned to action for the first time since being diagnosed with bone cancer. With emotions running high, the Eagles didn’t disappoint the home crowd, posting a 38-20 victory over the Weber State Wildcats.

“It felt good to run out of that tunnel and on to the field,” said Herzlich.

The offense got off to a slow start but settled in thanks to the play of running back Montel Harris who carried the ball 19 times for 115 yards and a touchdown.

One concern the Eagles may have is whether or not quarterback Dave Shinskie will give them consistency. That has yet to be seen, but will be an on going topic for the Eagles day in and day out.

6. North Carolina (0-1): One word comes to mind when I watched the Tar Heels battle the LSU Tigers, “Heart.”

This is a team that’s in shambles, losing most of their star players due to suspensions from NCAA infractions.  Even with that being the case, the Tigers almost had a heart attack.

Coming back from a 30-10 deficit, the Tar Heels almost pulled off a miracle but fell short 30-24 when quarterback T.J. Yates was unable to complete the game tying touchdown pass.

This team has nothing to be ashamed about, if anything the Tigers need to be worried about their secondary giving up 412 passing yards to a depleted Tar Heels team.

5. Clemson (1-0): Who needs C.J. Spiller when you win your opening game 35-10 over the North Texas Mean Green thanks to Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper.  I know they may not be as dynamic as Spiller but you would never guess that after their performance. 

Together they combined for 224 yards rushing with four touchdowns.  Not too bad for the first game of the season if you ask me.  If these two are able to put up consistent numbers all season, it will take the pressure off returning quarterback Kyle Parker.

I know that the Tiger fans were ecstatic to see him choose college football over pro baseball, at least for right now anyway.  He will be a big part of their success if they look to repeat as division champs.

4. Georgia Tech (1-0): The triple option was back in rare form against the Bulldogs of South Carolina State, as the Yellow Jackets won 41-10.  Yellow Jackets quarterback Joshua Nesbitt led the rushing attack with 129 yards and 3 touchdowns.

If a defense ever figures out the triple option, this Yellow Jackets team could be in some trouble.  Nesbitt has yet to really prove himself as a passing threat, not to mention he lost his go-to guy Demaryius Thomas to the NFL.

The good thing for them is that not many teams know how to stop their option offense.

3. Virginia Tech (0-1): I don’t even know where to begin with the Hokies.  They had this one in the bag, all they had to do was hold Kellen Moore and the Boise State Broncos one last time and it would have been a sweet comeback win.  Instead they fell apart, letting them drive right down the field and walk away with a victory, 33-30.

Tyrod Taylor may be one of the most athletic football players in all of college football, but he has happy feet in the pocket.  Although he did finish with 186 yards and two touchdowns passing, while rushing for 73 yardshe took some chances scrambling around when he didn’t need too.

This team is very talented and has a lot of potential.  The question marks lie on the defense and their inexperience.  But knowing Head Coach Frank Beamer, he will have this team back and better for next week’s game.

2. Miami (1-0): The Hurricanes didn’t even break a sweat in their 45-0 victory over the FAMU Rattlers.

Jacory Harris, their Heisman hopeful wasted no time getting his team on the board, connecting with his go-to receiver, Leonard Hankerson for one of his three touchdown passes. 

The Rattlers didn’t pose much of a threat for the Hurricanes defense, only gaining 107 yards all game.  The defense recorded eight sacks and one interception.

Again, similar to the Seminoles, you can’t brag too much as the Rattlers were just a tune up game for the big one this weekend.

They are on the road to challenge Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State Buckeyes.  A win here would certainly vault them into the National Championship picture.

“We have been waiting for this game since spring practice,” said Leonard Hankerson. “This is where we show the country who the real “U” is.”

1. Florida State (1-0): After a season ending shoulder injury last year, no one knew how well Heisman hopeful, Christian Ponder would play opening week.

I think it is safe to say his shoulder is more than fine.

He threw four touchdowns to help Florida State crush Samford 59-6.

They also featured a triple threat at the tailback position.  Jermaine Thomas, Chris Thompson and Ty Jones combined for 155 yards on 19 carries.

The defense came out sharp and made many fans forget about last seasons debacle.  The defensive line made quite the impact, recording four sacks and five tackles for a loss.  Not a single big play was given up, which is a rarity considering they were a common occurrence last year.

A lot could be said about the improvement of the defense, but they were playing Samford.

Not exactly the same type of team they will be visiting this weekend in Oklahoma. 

The Sooners will pose more problems for the defense, but if they they come ready to play and pull out a victory, then we can start talking about the improvement on defense.


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