ACC Power Rankings: The one thing that might determine Coastal Division race

Highlights from NC State's win over Louisville

Watch highlights from the NC State Wolfpack's victory over the Louisville Cardinals at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC Thursday, October 5, 2017.
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Watch highlights from the NC State Wolfpack's victory over the Louisville Cardinals at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC Thursday, October 5, 2017.

At this rate, the healthiest two teams will meet in Charlotte on Dec. 2 for the ACC title game.

An ankle injury to Miami running back Mark Walton will have a major impact on the Coastal Division race. The Hurricanes, after their first win over Florida State since 2009, are in the driver’s seat in the Coastal, but Walton (107 rushing yards per game) was a big part of their success.

The only solace for the Canes is they aren’t the only contender dealing with injury issues, although Walton has been ruled out for the rest of the year.

Virginia Tech receiver Cam Philips (101.3 receiving yards per game) suffered a foot sprain in the first quarter of the Hokies’ 23-10 win at Boston College on Saturday. Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant sprained an ankle in the third quarter of the Tigers’ 28-14 win over Wake Forest.

Meanwhile, North Carolina, with 15 players out for the season with injuries, is in the corner playing a tiny violin for its conference brethren.

The major injuries for Clemson and Virginia Tech don’t appear to be as severe as Walton’s, but it goes to show how fragile the season can be. Injury luck is the best kind of luck.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said “we can win” with either Hunter Johnson or Zerrick Cooper at quarterback. Definitely against Syracuse this week, but the Tigers will need Bryant back for the long haul.

Miami coach Mark Richt wasn’t planning on winning on unproven quarterback Malik Rosier’s right arm this season, not with a healthy Walton, but now he doesn’t have a choice.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

ACC Power Rankings

1. Clemson

Record: 6-0 (4-0 ACC)

Last game: vs. Wake Forest, W, 28-14. Next game: at Syracuse (Friday)

The Tigers have turned into a running team. Their rushing average (237.3 yards per game) is up nearly 40 percent per game from last year.

2. Miami

Record: 4-0 (2-0 ACC)

Last game: at Florida State, W, 24-20. Next game: vs. Georgia Tech.

Miami has owned Georgia Tech recently. Paul Johnson is just 2-7 vs. the Canes.

3. N.C. State

Record: 5-1 (3-0 ACC)

Last game: vs. Louisville, W, 39-25. Next game: at Pittsburgh.

Junior running back Nyheim Hines starting to hit his stride (103.6 rushing yards per ACC game).

NC State football coach Dave Doeren talks about the Wolfpack's upcoming matchup against the Pitt Panthers during a media availability Monday, October 9, 2017.

4. Virginia Tech

Record: 5-1 (1-1 ACC)

Last game: at Boston College, W, 23-10. Next game: vs. UNC (Oct. 21)

The Hokies hit the Duke-Carolina portion of their schedule before the Coastal Division title game against Miami on Nov. 4.

5. Georgia Tech

Record: 3-1 (2-0 ACC)

Last game: OFF. Next game: at Miami.

It’s October and we don’t know that much about the Jackets. We’ll know more with Miami and Clemson in the next three weeks.

6. Florida State

Record: 1-3 (1-2 ACC)

Last game: vs. Miami, L, 24-20. Next game: at Duke

Uncharted territory for eighth-year coach Jimbo Fisher, who has never finished worse than 5-3 in ACC play.

7. Wake Forest

Record: 4-2 (1-2 ACC)

Last game: at Clemson, L, 28-14. Next game: at Georgia Tech (Oct. 21).

Another tremendous effort in defeat for the Deacs. Much deserved week off before a trip to Atlanta.

8. Louisville

Record: 4-2 (1-2 ACC)

Last game: at N.C. State, L, 39-25. Next game: Boston College.

The Cardinals are 3-5 in their past eight games against FBS opponents.

9. Virginia

Record: 4-1 (1-0 ACC)

Last game: vs. Duke, W, 28-21. Next game: at UNC.

The Hoos have lost seven straight to UNC, but the Heels are ripe for the picking.

10. Syracuse

Record: 3-3 (1-1 ACC)

Last game: vs. Pittsburgh, W, 27-24. Next game: vs. Clemson (Friday)

Halfway to bowl eligibility, the problem will be finding the other three wins.

11. Duke

Record: 4-2 (1-2 ACC)

Last game: at Virginia, L, 28-21. Next game: vs. Florida State.

David Cutcliffe is 0-3 vs. FSU as Duke’s coach. The average score of the three games: FSU 44.6, Duke 10.

Duke had another tough day in losing 28-21 at Virginia on October 7, 2017.

12. Pittsburgh

Record: 2-4 (0-2 ACC)

Last game: at Syracuse, L, 27-24. Next game: vs. N.C. State.

Odd “Try telling that to anyone from 1987” fact: The Panthers are the only team that will play Duke, Carolina and State this season. They get the Wolfpack at home on Saturday in the first ACC meeting between the two.

13. UNC

Record: 1-5 (0-3 ACC)

Last game: vs. Notre Dame, L, 33-10. Next game: vs. Virginia.

The depleted Tar Heels lost by three touchdowns at home to a Notre Dame team starting a backup quarterback.

14. Boston College

Record: 2-4 (0-3 ACC)

Last game: vs. Virginia Tech, L, 23-10. Next game: at Louisville.

Even by Boston College’s standards, this offense is inept. The Eagles have scored 27 points in three ACC games and in six games average 4.16 yards per play (which ranks 128th out of 130 FBS teams).

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