ACC Power Rankings: Duke on move; Hokies, Canes fall

1. No. 2 Florida State (10-0,
8-0 ACC)
Last
week’s ranking/result: 1 (W 59-3 over
Syracuse)
Business
as usual for the Seminoles. Get up big early, cruise and let your
second-stringers get some work. Next up? Idaho. Yikes. Nothing much to
add here, except for that clearly, the recent allegations against their
star quarterback aren’t affecting the team, or said quarterback. Winston
bounced back well from a lackluster game at Wake Forest, completing
19-of-21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. That’ll
do. 
2. No. 8 Clemson (9-1, 7-1
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 2 (W 55-31 over Georgia
Tech)
Clemson
seemingly gets better each week after the Florida State loss, which is a
good sign for the Tigers. The looming battle against South Carolina is
looking more and more like it could be a  fantastic game, and
it’s obviously one that both Clemson and Dabo Swinney really, really
need. But as they dominate lesser opponents, they’re doing more and more
to put the whole “Clemsoning” narrative to bed. Speaking of that,
special shoutout to Clemson SID Tim Bourett for
this
.
(Stanfording?) 
3. Duke (8-2, 4-2
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 5 (W 48-30 over then-No. 24
Miami)
Is
anyone in the league below Duke playing better than the Blue Devils
right now? Perhaps only rival North Carolina could make a case, but the
Tar Heels don’t have two wins over top-25 teams. Duke does, for the
first time since 1971. And if Duke wins out in two games against Wake
Forest and UNC, it will win the Coastal Division. And get to 10 wins for
the first time in program history. Hard to put much past this team at
this point, particularly after the physically-dominating performance
they had against Miami on Saturday. Very
impressive. 
4. Georgia Tech (6-4, 5-3
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 4 (L 55-31 at No. 8
Clemson)
Georgia
Tech continued to fight against Clemson on Thursday, and made it look
like things might get interesting a few times, but couldn’t come all the
way back. It’s hard to criticize the Georgia Tech defense too much for
failing to slow down Clemson’s powerful offense, but 55 points? Yeah.
The defense took a step back. At least Georgia Tech seems to be settling
into a pattern of beating who it should beat and losing to the teams it
should lose to, which is more than we can say for the rest of the
Coastal. And the Yellow Jackets were impressive in the weeks leading up
to the Clemson game, which earns them some benefit of the
doubt. 
5. North Carolina (5-5, 4-3
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 8 (W 34-27 at
Pittsburgh)
If
North Carolina had held on to its lead in that Thursday night game
against Miami about a month ago now, the Tar Heels would be in the
driver’s seat in the Coastal Division and the final game of the year
against Duke would be for the Coastal crown, essentially. Alas, they
didn’t. Still, UNC is a win away from bowl eligibility after a 1-5 start
and has shown a lot of resiliency in bouncing back from that. If
there’s cause for concern, it’s the Tar Heels’ near fourth-quarter
collapse at Pitt this weekend; they let Pitt come back in about five
minutes from a 27-3 deficit. That shouldn’t happen. But UNC still hung
on, and that’s ultimately all that
matters. 
6. Boston College (6-4, 3-3
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 9 (W 38-21 over Boston
College)
Andre
Williams has dragged the Eagles with him to bowl eligibility, just like
the way he drags tacklers (or, as he did Saturday, runs
over them
). He had 339 yards against N.C. State, which was a
BC single-game record AND an ACC single-game record. He did have 42
carries, so the Eagles had better hope his legs don’t fall off, but he’s
been impressive all year long in a year where it seems more and more
that teams aren’t bothering to have a feature back. Williams has been
more than capable of carrying the load himself, and he absolutely
dominated the Wolfpack on Saturday. As for his team, it’s kind of been
off one week and on the next, but either way, BC is bowl-eligible in
Steve Addazio’s first year, and the Eagles are clearly on the right
track. 
7. Virginia Tech (7-4, 4-3
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 3 (L 27-24 in OT to
Maryland)
Um….really,
Virginia Tech? Facing a Maryland team that has been decimated by
injuries – AT HOME – the Hokies got back to their horrible offensive
ways, and this time, the defense let them down too. Virginia Tech is the
up-and-down ACC team that ruins things for the rest of the league this
year, a stark contrast to the Hokies’ normal consistency in league play.
Three of their four losses are to Duke, BC and Maryland. But they’ve
beaten Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina. And those wins are
keeping Virginia Tech alive in the Coastal Division. Virginia Tech is
basically the Michael Myers of the Coastal (you think they’re dead, but
NO! They’re still alive! SOMEHOW!). If it’s a five-way tie with UNC,
Duke, Georgia Tech and Miami, the Hokies win that
tiebreaker. 
8. Miami (7-3, 3-3
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 6 (L 48-30 at
Duke)
Yes,
Miami has some key injuries. But those injuries are mostly on the
offensive side of the ball. And the Miami offense was, for the most
part, fine. It was Miami’s defense that has been dominated up front –
first by a mediocre Virginia Tech offense, and then by Duke. The Miami
defense last year was the worst in the league, and after a strong start
this year, it appeared the Hurricanes had turned the corner. Turns out,
they had just played some really bad offenses. There are a lot of
concerns Miami needs to address going forward on that side of the ball –
not this year, obviously, but certainly next year – if it’s going to be
“back” as a
program. 
9. Pittsburgh (5-5, 2-3
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 7 (L 34-27 to North
Carolina)
The
only thing keeping Pittsburgh a spot above Maryland is its win over
Notre Dame last week. But the Panthers continue to be one of the more
puzzling teams in the league – which, by the way, means they’ll fit into
the Coastal Division just fine. Kudos to Pitt for coming back against
North Carolina, but the Panthers couldn’t build on last week’s big upset
win and got down big quickly to the Tar Heels, who dominated the first
45 minutes or so of action. And it was AT Pitt.  But, they’re
still a win away from bowl eligibility and showed some heart with that
comeback.
10. Maryland (6-4, 2-4
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 12 (W 27-24 in OT at Virginia
Tech)
All
the credit in the world to Maryland for continuing to fight in spite of
all the adversity it has faced this year. It says a ton about head
coach Randy Edsall and the character of the guys on that team. Virginia
Tech is a very tough place to play if you’re a healthy team at full
strength, much less a Maryland team piecing it together. And they
managed to find a way to get a huge win, stopping a three-game skid and
getting to bowl
eligibility. 
11. Syracuse (5-5, 3-3
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 10 (L 59-3 at No. 2 Florida
State)
No
shame in losing at Florida State, even in blowout fashion. If Maryland
hadn’t had such a big win, Syracuse (by virtue of, of course, winning at
Maryland) would’ve been ahead of the Terps. But Syracuse has yet to
really beat anyone in the league, and the three good teams they’ve faced
– Clemson, FSU and Georgia Tech – have beaten the Orange by a combined
score of 164-17. Syracuse’s final two ACC games against Pittsburgh
(which will be for bowl eligibility for both teams) and Boston College
should tell us a lot about the Orange.
 
12. Wake Forest (4-6, 2-5
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 13
(Off)
Technically,
bowl eligibility is still a possibility for Wake with two games left.
But those two games are at home against surging Duke and at Vanderbilt.
Without Michael Campanaro, Wake can’t move the ball offensively. It’s
just that simple. If their defense can start scoring touchdowns, maybe
that will help. But otherwise, it’s just not going to
happen. 
13. N.C. State (3-7, 0-7
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 13 (L 38-21 at Boston
College)
N.C.
State hasn’t given up, even if Andre Williams sapped the defense’s will
this week at BC. But it seems like whenever N.C. State builds up
positive momentum, it can’t get out of its own  way. The
Wolfpack were setting up for a field goal down 17-7 late in the first
half, but punter (and holder) Wil Baumann couldn’t handle the snap and
they turned it over on downs. N.C. State cut the deficit to seven points
early in the fourth and to ten with 1:53 to go, but BC scored on its
next possession both times. But the Wolfpack is on pace to go winless in
the ACC for the first time since the
1950s. 
14. Virginia (2-8, 0-6
ACC)
Last week’s
ranking/result: 14
(Off)
Mercifully
for Virginia, the Cavaliers were off this week. Speaking of teams that
have a chance to go winless in the ACC, Virginia’s remaining games are
at Miami and at home against Virginia Tech. I suppose Virginia has a
chance to finally beat the Hokies for the first time in seemingly
forever, especially considering how bad Virginia Tech has looked at
times, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Virginia is likely to end the
season losing its final nine games in a row.