Disaster almost struck the ACC before Florida State barely escaped Virginia Tech with a victory. In pulling out the win, FSU remained in first place in the Atlantic Division and kept alive the ACC’s hopes of landing a second team (Clemson) in a BCS bowl.
History was made in Chapel Hill, the Wolfpack got back on track and Virginia continued to surprise. Here are this week’s ACC Power Rankings:
1. Florida State (9-1, 6-1)
The Seminoles’ 28-22, come-from-behind win at Virginia Tech was big because it kept them atop the Atlantic Division, which will give them a chance to win their first ACC title since 2005. But Florida State’s road struggles are opening the door for Clemson to creep closer and closer.
2. Clemson (9-1, 6-1)
Dabo Swinney’s team just keeps winning by large margins, although 45-10 at home over Maryland was an act of benevolence given the Terrapins’ issues. Swinney could have named the score in this one. That said, the Tigers are on a roll and playing exceptionally well.
3. North Carolina (6-4, 3-3)
While the Tar Heels allowed 68 points in an 18-point home loss to Georgia Tech, their offense, which scored 50 points, keeps them in this spot. And their offense likely will keep them in this spot for the rest of the season, assuming it goes as expected.
4. NC State (6-4, 3-3)
It didn’t take the Wolfpack long to return to the fourth spot here. Saturday’s 37-6 victory over Wake Forest got NC State bowl eligible and restored some goodwill into the program. Shadrach Thornton proved that when State runs the ball well, it’s a solid team.
5. Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-3)
Even with ugly home losses to Middle Tennessee and BYU, the Yellow Jackets’ wins have been impressive enough to land them in this spot. Scoring 68 points against UNC’s talented defense is impressive no matter how you slice it. The previous high allowed by these Tar Heels was 39 (at Louisville).
6. Miami (5-5, 4-3)
Blowing a late lead and losing at Virginia not only added to the Hurricanes’ road woes, but it dropped them in the power rankings. Spring camp ought to be really interesting considering how much defensive film work this program will have before March.
7. Virginia Tech (4-6, 2-4)
The Hokies battled hard and played with expected pride in falling at home to Florida State. If they play with that same effort to close out the season, they may land in the ACC title game if Miami opts out.
8. Duke (6-4, 3-3)
The Blue Devils didn’t play but still fell a spot. Those four blowout losses are really haunting them now. But it shouldn’t take away from what the program has achieved so far, and the opportunity is certainly there to climb a few spots.
9. Virginia (4-6, 2-4)
The Cavaliers are making a nice push with consecutive victories, including 41-40 at home against Miami over the weekend. Virginia scored a touchdown with six seconds left to beat the Hurricanes and incredibly keep their bowl hopes alive. Not bad for a team that suffered through an embarrassing six-game losing streak in September and October.
10. Wake Forest (5-5, 3-5)
Jim Grobe’s team hasn’t snuck up on anyone and notched a super surprising victory yet — no, the Sept. 8 win over UNC doesn’t count (the Tar Heels were in their second game under a new regime and without Gio Bernard). Wake Forest was awful in falling at NC State 37-6 over the weekend and must win one of its two remaining tough games — at Notre Dame and vs. Vanderbilt — to get to a bowl.
11. Boston College (2-8, 1-6)
Credit the Eagles for playing Notre Dame tough in a 21-6 home loss. They played with BC pride, and the defense had a darn good night. The offense struggled, but avoiding something really embarrassing on national TV was good for the program.
12. Maryland (4-6, 2-4)
Shawn Petty is playing really hard and better than expected. But he’s still not a quarterback, and the Terrapins still lost at Clemson 45-10. Randy Edsall’s team is playing out the string, but at least the defense gave a solid effort. It could have been uglier.