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By Brad Senkiw

Nobody really cares about the middle. All we want to know who is the worst and who is the best. Mediocrity is rarely rewarded with our attention or time.

So let’s skip spots 5-10 in a midseason ACC power rankings. The league has been topsy-turvy, and there isn’t a clear-cut favorite to capture the conference crown with Clemson already owning a loss in ACC play.

But there’s still plenty of intrigue. Several programs are jockeying for positions they’ve rarely obtained in the last few decades, and there are fireable coaches hovering around the basement.

Top 4

1. Pittsburgh Panthers (5-1, 2-0)

In this era of football, though, offense is least it’s supposed to be. So Pitt averaging 48 points per game and being undefeated in the ACC carries a ton of weight. Quarterback Kenny Pickett is playing out of his mind, but he takes on the best defense in the league when Clemson visits Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

2. NC State Wolfpack (5-1, 2-0)

Many pundits are expecting the Wolfpack to start losing soon, but they were mighty impressive in an easy win over Boston College. This team plays with toughness and is well-built to make a run at the Atlantic title with that win over Clemson.

3. Clemson Tigers (4-2, 3-1)

Playing close games and winning ugly is what this team is right now, but the Tigers still have the best talent in the league. The defense is carrying a heavy load, and special teams is making up for some of the lack of offense, but Clemson isn’t out of the ACC race yet with just one conference loss.

4. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-0, 4-0)

Yes, this 6-0 team is last among these four...for now. Wake lacks an explosive offense but it makes up for it with efficiency and continuity. Dave Clawson gets the most out of his team, and it believes it can beat anybody at this point, but the talent compared to the rest of the league makes it hard to see Wake sustaining this run.

Bottom 4

1. Duke Blue Devils (3-4, 0-3)

For the worst team in the league, this is really feeling like the end of the David Cutcliffe era. The Blue Devils have a passing coach who develops quarterbacks running essentially a spread-option offense. And it isn’t working for a team that has been blown out in two of its three ACC losses. There’s also a loss to Charlotte.

2. Miami Hurricanes (2-4, 0-3)

How bad are things in Coral Gables? Star QB D’Eriq King is done for the year. The team has lost three of its last four games, and head coach Manny Diaz successor has already been discussed around college football. The infusion of transfer portal players has not helped the team’s culture or performance. They don’t know how to win.

3. Syracuse Orange (3-4, 0-3)

Dino Babers has one of the best running backs in the nation and an extremely respectable defense, but that’s not his calling card, and despite there being some positives in the program, the Orange appears doomed in terms of moving up the food chain in the division. Still, the team plays hard and has a chance to get out of the bottom four, but much like Miami, winning is difficult.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (3-3, 1-1)

The Justin Fuente era could be coming to a close in December. The Hokies blew a shot at a signature win against Notre Dame a couple of weeks ago and then got stomped by Pitt last Saturday. Quarterback is a big problem, as is identity. It’s going to take something drastic for this team to save their coach or make a bowl game.