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Clemson, Louisville set up epic battle for top spot in ACC power rankings

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Jackson owned UNC's defense (1:00)

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson dominated North Carolina's defense with 525 total yards. Go inside the play that added 75 yards and a touchdown pass to his box score. (1:00)

Clemson left little doubt Saturday that it is a legitimate contender to return to the College Football Playoff and is the class of the ACC through two weeks. Of course, all that excitement could dim quickly if Lamar Jackson continues to dominate the way he did against North Carolina. The Week 3 matchup between the defending Heisman winner and the Tigers’ D that had 11 sacks against Auburn should be a ton of fun — and will help shape the power rankings for the remainder of the year.

1. Clemson Tigers

Here’s the most terrifying thought about Clemson’s defensive front. Most pundits agreed the Tigers had three future NFL first-round picks on the line. Against Auburn on Saturday, the fourth guy — Austin Bryant — had four sacks.

2. Florida State Seminoles

Certainly the biggest concern was the safety of the folks in Florida, but the Seminoles’ silver lining to the canceled and rescheduled games due to Hurricane is that two weeks of practice time without a game is exactly what Jimbo Fisher needed to ensure James Blackman is ready run the offense.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies

There was nothing special about the win over Delaware, but Virginia Tech’s schedule is setting up very nicely for a showdown of top 15 teams when they host Clemson on Sept. 30.

4. Miami Hurricanes

Two weeks off will give Mark Richt extra prep time, but odds are, Miami folks would’ve preferred to get Florida State this week, with its QB making his first career start.

5. Louisville Cardinals

There’s no question Jackson is back in the Heisman conversation — and perhaps the leader at the moment. But he’s the first to say his season will largely be defined by whether he can lead Louisville to a win this week against Clemson.

6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

TaQuon Marshall has nine touchdowns already this season. Justin Thomas had just 14 all of last year for Georgia Tech.

7. NC State Wolfpack

We’re still giving NC State the benefit of the doubt, but our confidence is waning. It was a struggle to pull away from Marshall in Week 2, and perhaps most concerning: The Herd averaged 6.6 yards per play and allowed just a single sack against what’s supposed to be an elite defensive line.

8. Duke Blue Devils

Daniel Jones solidified his place as the ACC’s second-best quarterback with a dominant performance against Northwestern on Saturday, and the Blue Devils appear to be legitimate contenders in the Coastal Division. With inept Baylor and North Carolina up next, Duke could be 4-0 heading into a Sept. 29 showdown with Miami.

9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

It’s certainly not that Wake’s competition has been great, but through two games, the defense is allowing opposing QBs to complete just 40 percent of their throws, with just one touchdown and four interceptions.

10. Pittsburgh Panthers

The score tells the story of a dominant Penn State win, and indeed, Pitt never was particularly close. But the ground game found some room to run, the Panthers dominated time of possession, and the defense was surprisingly spry. That’s little solace, but Pitt should have better days ahead.

11. North Carolina Tar Heels

Through two games, the offense actually looks pretty good, with both Chazz Surratt and Brandon Harris finding success against Louisville. The defense on the other hand? Instead of being a strength, it’s looking like a repeat of the brutal 2014 campaign.

12. Syracuse Orange

The loss to Middle Tennessee essentially nixes bowl hopes for Syracuse unless the Orange can pull a few major upsets. The most frustrating part is that it was such a winnable game for Dino Babers’ crew, but self-inflicted wounds cost them big.

13. Boston College Eagles

BC’s game against Wake Forest was projected as an even matchup. Instead, the Eagles were shredded by Wake — a big concern considering the defense is supposed to be a strength.

14. Virginia Cavaliers

The Hoos managed a meager 314 yards of offense (just 3.45 per play) against Indiana, and despite a relatively easy schedule through two weeks, they rank 106th nationally in total offense.