ACC

ACC power rankings: Only Clemson can stop Clemson

NC State’s Finley makes an incredible one-handed catch

See a time lapse of NC State quarterback Ryan Finley making an incredible one-handed catch on a throw by Gavin Locklear during the Wolfpack's victory over the Syracuse Orange at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017.
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See a time lapse of NC State quarterback Ryan Finley making an incredible one-handed catch on a throw by Gavin Locklear during the Wolfpack's victory over the Syracuse Orange at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017.

If anyone in the ACC is going to beat Clemson this season, they’re going to need help from Clemson.

Last year, the Tigers were more willing to help with turnovers. This year, the Tigers haven’t been nearly as generous.

The result? The Tigers look unstoppable. And this in what by all rights should be a rebuilding year for Dabo Swinney’s team after winning the 2016 national title.

Through five games this year, Clemson has turned the ball over five times. That’s still not great, but with six takeaways, the Tigers are at plus-1 for the season on turnover margin. They won the national title in spite of a minus-1 margin last season.

Clemson turned the ball over 28 times in 15 games, which ranked tied for 121st in the country. The only knock on quarterback Deshaun Watson was he threw too many interceptions (17 last year).

But part of last year’s mission for Clemson was to put Watson in the best position to win the Heisman Trophy. He took more chances and made more mistakes.

This year, quarterback Kelly Bryant is running more (which makes Clemson’s offense click) and throwing less, which leads to fewer turnovers.

With Florida State’s injury problems, Clemson’s trip to N.C. State on Nov. 4 is shaping up to be the biggest obstacle on the Tigers’ path to perfection.

Clemson, by the way, turned the ball over four times in last year’s win over the Wolfpack. So sometimes even their help isn’t enough.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

ACC rankings

1. Clemson

Record: 5-0 (3-0 ACC)

Last game: at Virginia Tech, W, 31-17. Next game: vs. Wake Forest.

Great stat from longtime Clemson SID Tim Bourret: The top 20 teams in the AP poll have six combined losses, Clemson is responsible for half of them (No. 12 Auburn, No. 16 Virginia Tech, No. 17 Louisville).

2. Miami

Record: 3-0 (1-0 ACC)

Last game: at Duke, W, 31-6. Next game: at Florida State.

The Canes have lost seven straight to FSU. Their defense has the ability to snap that streak on Saturday.

3. Louisville

Record: 4-1 (1-1 ACC)

Last game: vs. Murray State, W, 55-10. Next game: at N.C. State (Thursday).

Louisville inherited Maryland’s spot in the ACC and the Terps’ hex over N.C. State.

4. Virginia Tech

Record: 4-1 (0-1 ACC)

Last game: vs. Clemson, L, 31-17. Next game: at Boston College.

No shame is losing to Clemson; the running game needs to get in gear to repeat as Coastal champs, though.

5. N.C. State

Record: 4-1 (2-0 ACC)

Last game: vs. Syracuse, W, 33-25. Next game: vs. Louisville (Thursday).

Four-game winning streak puts the Wolfpack in the top 25 for the first time in seven years.

See a time lapse of NC State quarterback Ryan Finley making an incredible one-handed catch on a throw by Gavin Locklear during the Wolfpack's victory over the Syracuse Orange at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017.

6. Florida State

Record: 1-2 (1-1 ACC)

Last game: at Wake Forest, W, 26-19. Next game: vs. Miami.

Easy to be down on the Noles for close call, but a lot of other teams would have lost that same spot.

7. Georgia Tech

Record: 3-1 (2-0 ACC)

Last game: vs. UNC, W, 33-7. Next game: at Miami (Oct. 14).

QB Taquan Marshall has 102 rushing attempts – 15 more than anyone else in the ACC – in only four games.

8. Wake Forest

Record: 4-1 (1-1 ACC)

Last game: vs. Florida State, L, 26-19. Next game: at Clemson.

“Good job, good effort” by the Deacs in close loss to FSU. Their reward is a trip to Clemson.

9. Virginia

Record: 3-1 (0-0 ACC)

Last game: OFF. Next game: vs. Duke.

The rested Wahoos have won their last two vs. the Blue Devils. This is a key game for their bowl hopes.

10. Duke

Record: 4-1 (1-1 ACC)

Last game: vs. Miami, L, 31-6. Next game: at Virginia.

QB Daniel Jones has completed 53.6 percent of his passes (59 of 110) since a 68.6 percent start (48 of 70).

11. Syracuse

Record: 2-3 (0-1 ACC)

Last game: at N.C. State, L, 33-25. Next game: vs. Pittsburgh.

WR Erv Philips set a new ACC record with 17 catches (for 188 yards) in loss at N.C. State.

12. UNC

Record: 1-4 (0-3 ACC)

Last game: at Georgia Tech, L, 33-7. Next game: vs. Notre Dame.

If QB Chazz Surratt develops, the year won’t be a total loss.

13. Boston College

Record: 2-3 (0-2 ACC)

Last game: vs. Central Michigan, W, 28-8. Next game: vs. Virginia Tech.

Actually a good week to play the Hokies. Not sure the Eagles’ offense is good enough take advantage, though.

14. Pittsburgh

Record: 2-3 (0-1 ACC)

Last game: vs. Rice, W, 42-10. Next game: at Syracuse.

I completely underestimated how much this team played for James Conner last year.

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