ACC Power Rankings: Duke on move; Hokies, Canes fall
NOV 17, 2013 10:27a ET
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.