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ACC Power Rankings: Syracuse football awaits a chance to announce itself as a title contender

Syracuse.com 10/4/2022 Nate Mink, syracuse.com
Syracuse Orange wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II straight arms Wagner Seahawks defensive back Roberto Auguste. © Dennis Nett | dnett@syracus.com/syracuse.com/Dennis Nett | dnett@syracus.com Syracuse Orange wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II straight arms Wagner Seahawks defensive back Roberto Auguste.

Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse broke into the national polls.

Now it awaits a chance to announce itself as an ACC title contender.

The No. 22 Orange (5-0, 2-0 ACC) will get to plant a stake in the division race in back-to-back games against North Carolina State and Clemson on the other side of the bye week.

The N.C. State matchup on Oct. 15 could end up being the first game in Syracuse since 2001 in which both teams are ranked.

Yet in some respects, the Oct. 22 trip to Clemson looms larger after the Tigers defeated N.C. State over the weekend.

The Tigers have already knocked off Wake Forest, and if they get past Florida State in a couple weeks, they hold the trump card in the Atlantic with head-to-head wins over the primary challengers.

The Power Rankings have flipped the calendar to October, when contenders will further separate from the pretenders.

1. Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC)

Last game: W 30-20 vs. N.C. State

Next game: at Boston College; 7:30 p.m.; ABC

Clemson is riding the nation’s longest home winning streak at 37 games after its decisive victory against N.C. State.

That ties the ACC record set by Florida State from 1995-2001 in the middle of the Bobby Bowden dynasty.

The Tigers will try to claim the mark for themselves Oct. 22 against ... Syracuse.

2. North Carolina State (4-1, 0-1 ACC)

Last game: L 30-20 at Clemson

Next game: vs. Florida State; 8 p.m.; ACC Network

North Carolina State, a preseason College Football Playoff sleeper in some circles, will lick its wounds and try to turn the page from a disappointing loss on the national stage.

With Florida State and a trip to Syracuse looming, not to mention in-state rivalries with Wake Forest and North Carolina in November, the Wolfpack can still turn in a memorable season, if it needs help to reach Charlotte.

3. Wake Forest (4-1, 1-1 ACC)

Last game: W 31-21 at Florida State

Next game: vs. Army; 7:30 p.m.; ESPN3

Wake corrected after a closer-than-expected win vs. Liberty and a double-overtime loss to Clemson.

The Demon Deacons rushed for 171 yards against a Florida State front that returned star transfer edge Jared Verse (2.5 TFL, one sack), the most against an FBS opponent this season. And quarterback Sam Hartman moved into fifth place on the ACC’s career list with 10,462 passing yards.

Army is 1-3 on the season and is coming off a 31-14 loss to previously winless Georgia State in which the Panthers pulled away late.

4. Syracuse (5-0, 2-0 ACC) ↑2

Last game: W 59-0 vs. Wagner

Next game: vs. N.C. State; Oct. 15

That was a dead body falling down the stairs ... for 50 minutes.

They actually called off the dogs at halftime, when both coaches agreed to play shortened, 10-minute quarters in the second half.

Wagner got a nice game check to come to Central New York, but here’s hoping the restructured NCAA governance model puts an end to these FBS-FCS sacrificial matchups in the future.

5. Florida State (4-1, 2-1 ACC) ↓1

Last game: L 31-21 vs. Wake Forest

Next game: at N.C. State; 8 p.m.; ACC Network

Florida State’s Atlantic Division gauntlet does not let up with back-to-back games against N.C. State and Clemson.

The loss to Wake is a sign the Seminoles aren’t ready to compete for a league championship, but it can still turn a corner in Mike Norvell’s third season.

6. North Carolina (4-1, 1-0 ACC) ↑1

Last game: W 41-10 vs. Virginia Tech

Next game: at Miami (Fla.); 4 p.m.; ESPN2

Hey, a Coastal Division representative.

After putting up 41 on Brent Pry’s defensive-minded Hokies, the Tar Heels look like they can outscore anybody in the division.

They would be a sneaky matchup for the Atlantic Division champion.

And in the final year of divisions, I can think of no better form of chaos than the Coastal snatching an Orange Bowl bid from the loaded Atlantic.

7. Duke (4-1, 1-0 ACC) ↑2

Last game: W 38-17 vs. Virginia

Next game: at Georgia Tech; 4 p.m.; ESPN3

The win against Northwestern doesn’t look as impressive as it once did.

The loss to Kansas is nothing to be ashamed about with the way the Jayhawks are playing.

Duke is just solid, which is what Duke had been for so long under David Cutcliffe.

There will be no overlooking Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd after what the Yellow Jackets did in Pittsburgh, but the Blue Devils can enact a little revenge on their rivals down Tobacco Road for spoiling the Coach K farewell tour last basketball season.

8. Pittsburgh (3-2, 0-1 ACC) ↓3

Last game: L 26-21 vs. Georgia Tech

Next game: vs. Virginia Tech; 3:30 p.m.; ACC Network

The biggest win for Pitt this week: Kenny Pickett supplanted Mitch Trubisky as the Steelers’ starting quarterback.

Otherwise, the Panthers are bathing in misery after losing to Georgia Tech, which hadn’t won on the road against a ranked AP opponent since 2016.

Making matters worse: Running back Israel Abanikanda finished the game with his arm in a sling.

9. Miami (2-2) ↑1

Last game: L 45-31 vs. Middle Tennessee State

Next game: vs. North Carolina; 4 p.m.; ESPN2

Miami can’t drop if it doesn’t play.

And with Pittsburgh and Louisville suffering stunning results against two of the worst teams in the league, it’s a good thing that loss to Middle Tennessee is in the rearview mirror.

We will see what the Hurricanes cooked up offensively over the off week and who will start at quarterback when Carolina rolls into town.

It’s been tough to outgun Drake Maye.

10. Louisville (2-3, 0-3 ACC) ↓2

Last game: L 34-33 at Boston College

Next game: at Virginia; noon; ACC Network

Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham did not finish the game, and coach Scott Satterfield was cagey afterward. He wouldn’t disclose the injury to his star quarterback or provide a timeframe for a return to play.

Still, Boston College has been wrecked by injuries up front, and the Eagles still put up a season high in scoring against FBS competition.

Everyone knew the Cardinals would have a brutal stretch in November, but most referred to consecutive games against Clemson, N.C. State and Kentucky to close the year.

Look who kicks off the month: unbeaten James Madison.

11. Virginia (2-3, 0-2 ACC)

Last game: L 38-17 at Duke

Next game: vs. Louisville; noon; ACC Network

There was nothing special about Virginia’s schedule, on paper, at the start of the year. There was hope, with the returning skill players inherited from the previous coaching regime, Tony Elliott could slide in and kick off his tenure on a high note.

Instead, Elliott said he was apologizing to Brennan Armstrong on the sideline in Durham for not doing more to help the star quarterback succeed in a new offense after Duke snapped a 13-game conference losing streak.

Louisville looked impotent with Cunningham against Boston College.

Virginia has looked impotent all season.

12. Virginia Tech (2-3, 1-1 ACC)

Last game: L 41-10 at North Carolina

Next game: at Pittsburgh; 3:30 p.m.; ACC Network

Virginia Tech lacks the explosiveness to keep pace with North Carolina.

I’m not sure who the Hokies can keep up with after two-straight games scoring 10 points. They punted five-straight times to start the second half.

13. Boston College (2-3, 1-2 ACC)

Last game: W 34-33 vs. Louisville

Next game: vs. Clemson; 7:30 p.m.; ABC

The Phil Jurkovec experience: He completed 18-of-21 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns set up the game-winning field goal with a long run.

He also threw an interception, fumbled twice and took a knee too early to give Louisville the ball back with 1 second left.

Alas, Boston College intercepted Louisville at the 13-yard line to avoid humiliation.

14. Georgia Tech (2-3, 1-1 ACC)

Last game: W 26-21 at Pittsburgh

Next game: vs. Duke; 4 p.m.; ESPN3

Brent Key, the interim coach after Georgia Tech fired Geoff Collins and athletic director Todd Stansbury last week, is a Yellow Jacket through and through, cut from the same cloth as former head coach and Syracuse assistant George O’Leary.

I don’t know if Key will be considered for the permanent job with Tech looking to make a splashy hire, but Collins once was that splashy hire who pitched recruiting zest in Atlanta only to never produce the results.

With the win, Georgia Tech ended a nine-game losing streak to FBS opponents — the last five by a combined score of 210-20 — and now hosts Duke, its most recent FBS victory before Saturday night’s stunner in Pittsburgh.

The Yellow Jackets will be looking for consecutive wins for the first time since 2018.

How I voted in this week’s AP Top 25:

1. Georgia

2. Alabama

3. Ohio State

4. Southern California

5. Michigan

6. Clemson

7. Oklahoma State

8. Tennessee

9. Utah

10. Mississippi

11. Penn State

12. Kentucky

13. Oregon

14. North Carolina State

15. Brigham Young

16. Kansas State

17. Wake Forest

18. Baylor

19. Arkansas

20. UCLA

21. Kansas

22. Texas Christian

23. Cincinnati

24. Syracuse

25. James Madison

Contact Nate Mink anytime: Email | Twitter | 315-430-8253

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Syracuse’s defense continues forcing turnovers with Duce Chestnut’s pick-6. It needs to keep it up

Syracuse-Wagner drew smallest Dome crowd of the season, but N.C. State could bring a big number

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Syracuse Orange fans:

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