We're through three weeks of college football and the ACC is starting to shake out. Here's the conference in tiers so far...
Tier I - Clemson, FSU
Clemson - Rested going into the ACC opener, Clemson owns the ACC's top win and will get a test this week at N.C. State.
FSU - Armed by redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, Florida State has had a very impressive start. Currently, they rank No. 5 in scoring offense (51.5) and No. 7 in total offense (575 yards per game). Winston did show signs of humanity in making a misread and throwing his first interception against Nevada Saturday. Of course, he then completed his next 13 passes and finished 15-of-18 for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He is sporting a scintillating 88.9 completion percentage with eight total scores. Facing two FBS opponents, Winston holds a 234.8 pass efficiency rating (No. 2 nationally - the leader is Baylor's Bryce Petty and an incredible 249.5 rating).
The 'Noles have as strong a committee of backs as maybe in all of college football with Devonta Freeman, James Wilder...and the addition of junior DB Karlos Williams. Williams took his first touch 65 yards to the house and finished with 114 yards on the day.
Looking for weak spot? Well, the defense is still pretty stout, but facing a strong Nevada running game (birth place of the Pistol), they did allow 95 first half rushing yards. As they fell behind down to their third-string QB, that running game became less and less effective, but the holes were there early on. FSU led 17-7 at the half and blew up for 45 second-half points en route to the 62-7 win.
Tier II - Miami, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Virginia Tech
Miami - I'm still not sure what to make of the 'Canes, who hold a marquee and at the same time, bizarre, win over Florida. Miami was plus-four in the turnover margin by game's end and Florida went scoreless in the red zone four times. We really won't find out much about Miami in the coming weeks with games they should roll in against Savannah State and at South Florida. Hosting Georgia Tech on Oct. 5 is the one to watch.
Virginia Tech - The Hokies tried their best to lose at ECU...and the Pirates wouldn't let them. Here's the deal on the Hokies: their defense is really, really good (currently No. 2 nationally in total D). The Alabama offense that carved up Texas A&M Saturday only had 206 yards and 3.3 yards per play versus Virginia Tech.
On the flipside, there's Logan Thomas. He's connected with the opponent (four interceptions) more often than in the endzone with his own (3), while completing 47 percent of his passes. It's definitely part mental and who knows if new OC Scot Loeffler has messed with his mechanics, but in his third year as a starter, Thomas has most definitely regressed. Also troubling for the Hokies? The run game isn't there either...they're going to have to win a lot of low-scoring games.
Georgia Tech - Georgia Tech seems to have a semi-efficient passing game through two contests. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Vad Lee threw for four scores in his ACC starting debut at Duke Saturday. On the season, he's hitting 55.5 percent of his passes for 314 yards, 6 TDs and a pick. Oh by the way, the rush attack is still there (No. 3 nationally) and they have a top-10 defense early (No. 7, 253.5 yards per game).
Maryland - Maryland? Here? Indeed. The Terps are 3-0 with an offense averaging 554.7 yards per game. It's funny what happens when you have a healthy QB and senior C.J. Brown has been every bit the dual-threat billed last season before injury. He is accounting for 363 total yards a game with six scores through the air and five on the ground. Sophomore stud receiver Stefon Diggs sits in sixth nationally with 16 catches for 387 yards and three touchdowns. They really get to show their stuff this week meeting West Virginia in a neutral site game in Baltimore.
Tier III - Boston College, UNC, Virginia, N.C. State, Duke, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Boston College - Well, they're sitting atop the Atlantic alongside Florida State after beating Wake Forest, but the upset bid (predicted by ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit!) at Southern Cal didn't exactly work out (35-7 defeat). We've discussed it here on this site, but there's definitely a renewed enthusiasm in Chestnut Hill...that doesn't necessarily fix the offense though (113th nationally in total and 105th in scoring offense).
UNC - Not too much to say about the Tar Heels early except they lost where they should have (at South Carolina) and took care of business at home versus Middle Tennessee. The offensive numbers are kind of low though, as senior Bryn Renner has just two passing TDs and their leading rusher has 115 yards through two games (Romar Morris).
N.C. State - We'll talk plenty about them this week, but they're 2-0 with wins over La Tech (not a great win) and a close shave with Richmond (pretty strong...for an FCS school).
Virginia - Watching Tennessee get destroyed at Oregon, Virginia, on its bye this last week, probably just solemnly nodded while preparing for life after a home blowout loss to the Ducks. They actually own one of the ACC's better wins, 19-16 against BYU, and an offense ranked 118th nationally.
Duke - With its starting QB out, Duke was down to its Wildcat QB (Brandon Connette) in the home ACC opener against Georgia Tech - and with only 62 plays - they managed 254 yards. They have a stretch of three more home games that will determine if they're bowl-bound again coming up with Pitt, Troy and Navy.
Pittsburgh - Pitt is 1-1 with a win over New Mexico and a loss to Florida State - the offense has been middle of the road, while the defense has been less than that. They sit in a tie for 99th in scoring 'D' after allowing 34 points per in openers at home. To be fair, three of New Mexico's scores came after falling behind 42-6 with 9:47 left in the third quarter. Like Virginia Tech, they also have a QB with more picks (4) than TDs (3) in senior journeyman Tom Savage.
Syracuse - They're 0-2 in Big Ten play after losses to Penn State (23-17) and at Northwestern (48-27), but in the home opener, the Orange drilled Wagner 54-0. Encouraging sign? Sophomore QB Terrel Hunt did his best Jameis Winston impression by hitting 15-of-18 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. He could supplant former starter Drew Allen, who threw four INTs the week before at Northwestern.
Tier IV - Wake Forest
Wake Forest - Wake Forest is 0-2 against FBS opponents on the young season. While their defense has kept them in games (No. 17 in total 'D'), the offense is still pretty bad (104th in the nation).