The ACC’s upper echelon gained more separation from the rest of the league this past weekend even though two of the league’s top three teams didn’t play.
Florida State and North Carolina further solidified their spots in the ACC Power Rankings despite having open dates, but three of the teams ranked Nos. 4-8 lost in ugly fashion, thus the increased divide. Here are this week’s ACC Power Rankings:
1. Florida State (8-1, 5-1)
The Seminoles didn’t play but held on to the top spot because they have earned it from day one. The open date came at a good time so they can work on playing without tailback Chris Thompson, who went down with a season-ending injury prior to the last game.
2. Clemson (8-1, 5-1)
Tajh Boyd continued to impress by becoming Clemson’s all-time leader in touchdown passes after tossing five – all in the first half – in a 56-20 demolition of Duke in Durham, N.C. Boyd also ran for 72 yards and a score, and the Tigers’ defense did a nice job against a Blue Devils offense that was averaging nearly 43 points at home.
3. North Carolina (6-3, 3-2)
Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels didn’t play, but nobody else in the conference did anything to come close to threatening UNC’s No. 3 spot in the Power Rankings. Because of NCAA probation, the Heels can’t formally win the Coastal Division, but they can still finish first by closing with three more victories.
4. Miami (5-4, 4-2)
The Hurricanes played their best game of the season by taking out Virginia Tech 30-12 last Thursday night and putting themselves in the driver’s seat to win the Coastal Division. To seal the deal, Miami must win two ACC road games, which won’t be easy for a young team.
5. N.C. State (5-4, 2-3)
How much has the ACC struggled this season? N.C. State has dropped two straight contests, including this past weekend’s 33-6 home embarrassment to a Virginia team that entered with a six-game losing skid. Yet, the Wolfpack remains here by virtue of its earlier win over Florida State and because it’s still hard to believe the staff has done such a poor job with a team that is much better on paper than it has performed.
6. Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3)
Even more by default, the Hokies come up sixth despite having a losing record and being blown out in their last three road games. But they defeated Duke (badly) and Georgia Tech, and the others don’t belong above Frank Beamer’s crew. Virginia Tech must win out and have Miami lose to both Virginia and Duke for the Hokies to reach the ACC title game.
7. Georgia Tech (4-5, 3-3)
BYU and Middle Tennessee State may chuckle at this, but Georgia Tech is coming off a road rout of Maryland (33-13) and has a few other wins that clearly place them in this spot. Paul Johnson’s team remains a dangerous club, especially if its defense can turn in a solid performance.
8. Duke (6-4, 3-3)
While the Blue Devils remain an excellent story by being bowl eligible and still having a chance at winning the Coastal Division, they are slipping. All four of their losses have been blowouts, including the last two weeks. Saturday’s 56-20 home ugliness to Clemson came a week after falling at Florida State, 48-7.
9. Wake Forest (5-4, 3-4)
The Demon Deacons are a much better club when wide receiver Michael Campanaro is healthy, as evidenced by his 16-catch performance in Saturday’s 28-14 win over Boston College. The Demon Deacons may be better than a couple of the teams ranked ahead of them and can prove that against a very difficult schedule closing the season.
10. Virginia (3-6, 1-4)
The Cavaliers jumped from the bottom spot after ending a six-game losing streak by waxing N.C. State 33-6 in Raleigh. The Wahoos got away with juggling quarterbacks (stick with Sims!), and took advantage of a Wolfpack team that just wasn’t into the game. Kudos to Virginia coach Mike London for keeping his squad together.
11. Boston College (2-7, 1-5)
The Eagles retain the No. 11 spot because of Maryland’s quarterback situation, otherwise they would have dropped to the bottom position. The 28-14 loss at Wake was more of the same for a team that just doesn’t have many workable parts. Notre Dame visits this weekend.
12. Maryland (4-5, 2-3)
With respect to Shawn Petty, the quarterback situation is what drags the Terrapins to the bottom spot. Petty, a linebacker forced to play under center because the rest of the program’s quarterbacks are out for the season, gave great effort in Saturday’s 33-13 loss to Georgia Tech. But he’s not a college QB, and without one, the Terps won’t win again.