ACC Football: Power Rankings after end of regular season

The 2016 College Football season has come to a close, next stop is the ACC Championship. Check out the final ACC Power Rankings.

The end of the regular season is upon us. Clemson and Virginia Tech will face each other in the ACC Championship game in Orlando to decide this year’s ACC Champion.

Clemson went 7-1 in the ACC Atlantic division, clinching their second straight division title. Virginia Tech went 6-2 in the ACC Coastal division to win their first division title since 2011. Not bad in head coach Justin Fuente’s first season.

It was an impressive end to the season for some teams. The North Carolina State Wolfpack got their sixth victory for bowl eligibility over the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defeated their in-state rival Georgia Bulldogs 28-27 in Athens for their first victory since 2014.

It was also a disappointing end to the season for some teams as well. The Louisville Cardinals lost their second straight game to ruin any potential playoff hopes they may have had. Wake Forest lost their third straight game, an epic collapse after a promising 5-1 start.

Next up for some teams, it’s bowl season. Eleven teams from the ACC are bowl eligible this season. It marks a good end to the season for the conference as a whole.

Here are the final ACC Power Rankings for the regular season.

Nov 26, 2016; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

14

Virginia Cavaliers

(2-10)

Last week: L 52-10 Virginia Tech
Last rank: 14th

The Virginia Cavaliers finish the season 1-7 in ACC play. The Cavaliers lost their last seven games to close out the regular season. It marks the 13th straight game they have lost to the Virginia Tech Hokies as well.

It marks a rough beginning to the Bronco Mendenhall era in Charlottesville, but it was expected for the most part. The Cavaliers gave up a season-high 52 points in the final game of the season. The offense turned the ball over three times in the game, surrendering 10 points off turnovers.

The Hokies were an overwhelming force for Virginia all game long. The Cavaliers managed a season-low 247 total yards of offense and 14 first downs on the day. The defense allowed a season-high 29 first downs and gave up six touchdowns for the first time since September 10 when they faced Oregon.

What’s Next?

The Cavaliers end the season and will begin to get back on the recruiting trail. Currently Virginia boasts the 39th ranked recruiting class, according to 24/7 Sports. Coach Mendenhall will look to improve that ranking as the team opens next season against William & Mary.

Nov 26, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

13

Duke Blue Devils

(4-8)

Last week: L 40-21 Miami
Last rank: 11th

The Duke Blue Devils close the season on a sour note. They finish with a record of 1-7 in ACC play, winning one of their last six games. The Blue Devils finish with the same record they did back in David Cutcliffe’s first season. They’ll walk away with tons of experience after a down year.

Duke misses a bowl game for the first time since 2011. Not such a big deal considering they lost starting quarterback Thomas Sirk at the beginning of the year to an Achilles’ injury. The team opened conference play with a loss and things got worse from there.

In their final ACC game, the Blue Devils gave up 40 points on defense. It was the second week in a row the Blue Devils allowed 40 points or more. They gave up a season-high 396 passing yards and four touchdowns through the air.

They had just 79 rushing yards a team on offense, last week they had 25. The offense also had seven penalties for 51 yards.

Whats Next?

The Duke Blue Devils look to regroup on both sides of the ball in the offseason. The offense ranked 107th in the FBS in scoring offense, scoring 23.3 points per game. The defense allowed 28.2 points per game, which ranks 69th among FBS teams. They’ll look to improve upon those numbers on the recruiting trail. They currently boast the 30th ranked recruiting class, according to 24/7 Sports.

Nov 26, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

12

Syracuse Orange

(4-8)

Last week: L 76-61 Pittsburgh
Last rank: 12th

Well the Syracuse Orange competed in the highest-scoring regulation game in FBS history but they came out on the losing end at 76-61 to Pittsburgh. They finish the season at 2-6 in ACC play in Dino Babers’ first season as head coach. What reads as a basketball score is the actual score of a football game. Both teams opened the playbook in the final game of the season and it showed.

The Orange offense accounted for nine of the 20 touchdowns in the game. They did record a season-high 668 total yards of offense and 38 first downs. Receiver Amba Etta-Tawo had 13 catches for 178 receiving yards and five touchdowns to lead the offensive surge.

The lone blemish in the game on offense came when quarterback Zack Mahoney threw a pick-six that was returned 20 yards for a score.

The Syracuse defense forced two turnovers in the game but they allowed 393 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. They also gave up the most points ever in an FBS game.

Whats Next?

Dino Babers will get on the recruiting trail to hopefully bring in more defensive players. The Orange end the season ranked 121st in the FBS in scoring defense. Teams scored 38.6 points against them this season. Currently the Orange rank 51st in the nation in recruiting, according to 24/7 Sports.

Nov 26, 2016; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

11

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

(6-6)

Last week: L 17-14 Boston College
Last rank: 9t

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons lost their last three games to close a promising season at 6-6. They started 5-1. The good news though: they’re still bowl eligible for the first time since 2011. The Demon Deacons experienced their first collapse from the top of the ACC Atlantic division. They won one of their last six games.

Quarterback John Wolford returned from injury to throw for 137 passing yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 69 yards as well but it wasn’t enough for the Wake Forest offense. The offense has averaged 13 points during their three-game losing streak.

The defense for Wake Forest allowed just 167 total yards of offense and held the Golden Eagles under 100 rushing yards. But it still wasn’t enough to get the victory. The offense held a 287-167 advantage in total offense. Kicker Mike Weaver missed two field goals in the game.

Whats Next?

The Demon Deacons await their fate as bowl season approaches. Wake Forest has 10 bowl appearances and holds a 6-4 record in those games. Current bowl projections have them playing Vanderbilt in the Independence Bowl.

Nov 26, 2016; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

10

Boston College Golden Eagles

(6-6)

Last week: W 17-14 Wake Forest
Last rank: 13th

The Boston College Golden Eagles are bowl eligible and that’s reason enough to celebrate. The Golden Eagles have made a bowl game in three of the last four seasons. They got their second victory in ACC play to close the season at 2-6 in the conference.

The Golden Eagles defense forced three turnovers to keep the Demon Deacons in check on the scoreboard. Cornerback Lukas Dennis caught an interception with 15 seconds remaining in the game to seal the game for Boston College.

It was a good finish for the Golden Eagles, who won two games in a row to get to bowl eligibility. Quarterback Patrick Towles passed for 74 passing yards and a touchdown to lead the way on offense. Running back Myles Willis ran the ball five times for 21 rushing yards and a touchdown as well.

Whats Next?

The Golden Eagles will await their bowl fate after finishing the season at 6-6. Projections currently have Boston College playing Army in the St. Petersburg Bowl.

Nov 25, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

9

NC State Wolfpack

(6-6)

Last week: W 28-21 UNC
Last rank: 10th

The NC State Wolfpack won their final game of the season to qualify for a bowl game for the third straight year. They beat the North Carolina Tar Heels to close out the season with a 3-5 record in ACC play.

The Wolfpack have beaten the Tar Heels twice in the last three games. This time around, the Wolfpack jumped out to a 28-7 lead entering the fourth quarter and held on for the victory.

Running back Matt Dayes ran the ball 26 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Dayes finishes the season with eight games with 100 yards rushing or more. Hybrid back Jaylen Samuels threw a 59-yard touchdown pass and also ran for a four-yard touchdown.

The offense outgained the Tar Heels 492-413 in total offense and earned 24 first downs to North Carolina’s 20. It was a good way to finish a roller coaster season for the Wolfpack.

Whats Next?

The Wolfpack will await their bowl fate. They are 1-1 in their last two bowl appearances. Current projections have NC State playing UTSA in the Quick Lane Bowl.

Nov 26, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

8

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

(8-4)

Last week: W 28-27 UGA
Last rank: 8th

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets finished the 2016 season with a bang with a 28-27 victory over Georgia. It was Georgia Tech’s third straight win of the year and fifth win in the last six games. The Yellow Jackets sat at 3-3 before stringing off a number of key victories. It is a good end to what looked like a down year for them, they are 4-4 in ACC play.

The offense used four rushing touchdowns and 226 rushing yards to run past the Bulldogs for victory. The defense forced two turnovers, including an interception by linebacker Brant Mitchell as time expired. Mitchell finished with 8 total tackles in the game.

The Yellow Jackets won their season finale after late touchdown runs by running backs Dedrick Mills and Qua Searcy. Mills scored on a 5-yard run with 6:28 remaining to bring the Yellow Jackets within a possession. Searcy scored on a 6-yard run with 30 seconds left in the game. Kicker Harrison Butker sealed the victory with the extra point.

Whats Next?

The Yellow Jackets lets the bowl committee decide where they will travel. Current projections have Georgia Tech facing Maryland in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Nov 26, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Nathan Peterman (4) passes against the Syracuse Orange during the third quarter at Heinz Field. PITT won 76-61. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

7

Pittsburgh Panthers

(8-4)

Last week: W 76-61 Syracuse
Last rank: 7th

The Pittsburgh Panthers used an offensive outburst to close their season with a victory. They finish the season at 5-3 in ACC play.

Quarterback Nathan Peterman threw for 251 passing yards and four touchdowns. Peterman also ran for 79 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Five different Pittsburgh players scored a rushing touchdown. Running back James Conner ran for 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns. It was Conner’s third straight game with at least 100 rushing yards.

Receiver Quadree Henderson had 103 rushing yards and a touchdown. Receiver Maurice Ffrench had a 77-yard rushing touchdown. Fullback George Aston scored on a six-yard rush as well.

The Panthers defense gave up 668 total yards of offense but they didn’t let that ruin a victory. They forced an interception and six punts in the game. The offense punted just three times.

Whats Next?

At 8-4, the Panthers should get a reasonable bowl bid. Current projections have Pittsburgh playing Temple in the Military Bowl.

Nov 25, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

6

North Carolina Tar Heels

(8-4)

Last week: L 28-21 NC State
Last rank: 5th

The North Carolina Tar Heels closed the season with two straight conference losses but they are still 5-3 in ACC play. They lost to rival North Carolina State 28-21 as a 14-point fourth quarter wasn’t enough to mount a comeback.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw for 280 passing yards and three passing touchdowns to lead the way for the offense. Receiver Ryan Switzer caught 13 passes for 171 receiving yards and a touchdown. Receiver Bug Howard caught three passes for 58 receiving yards and a touchdown.

The Tar Heels defense surrendered 259 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in the game. They have allowed three rushing touchdowns or more in six games this season. Their record in those games is 3-3. Their last two losses came at the end of the season.

Whats Next?

The Tar Heels should still receive a favorable bowl bid despite their latest loss. They are currently projected to play Stanford in the Sun Bowl.

Nov 26, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

5

Miami Hurricanes

(8-4)

Last week: W 40-21 Duke
Last rank: 6th

The Miami Hurricanes finished the season with their fourth straight victory. Not a bad finish for the Hurricanes after losing four in a row. They finish up 5-3 in ACC play after their 40-21 victory over Duke.

Quarterback Brad Kaaya finished the game with a season-high 396 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. Tight end David Njoku had a stellar day to showcase what he can do for Miami going forward. Kaaya connected with Njoku on touchdown passes of 76 yards and 58 yards on his only catches of the game. Receiver Stacy Coley also had nine catches for 118 receiving yards and a touchdown as well.

The Hurricanes didn’t force any turnovers in the game, but they did have three sacks in the game. They held the Blue Devils to just 79 rushing yards as a team as well.

Whats Next?

Miami awaits their bowl bid in Mark Richt’s first season as head coach. Not bad for them going 8-4, but they started the season 4-0 before dropping four straight games. Current projections have the Hurricanes playing West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Nov 26, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

4

Florida State Seminoles

(9-3)

Last week: W 31-13 Florida
Last rank: 4th

The Florida State Seminoles made easy work of rival Florida to finish the season on a high note. At 5-3 in ACC play, this season isn’t a total down year for the Seminoles. Their three losses come against teams all well above .500.

Running back Dalvin Cook ran the ball 26 times for 153 rushing yards and a touchdown to lead the rushing attack. Quarterback Deondre Francois threw for 138 passing yards and a touchdown. He ran for 63 rushing yards and a touchdown as well.

The Seminoles used a 14-point fourth quarter to put any chances of a comeback away for the Gators. The defense held the Gators to 207 total yards of offense and 13 first downs in the game. They sacked the quarterback six times and forced two fumbles in the game.

Whats Next?

The Seminoles should get a solid bowl bid with their 9-3 record. Current projections pit them against Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl.

Nov 26, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) tries to evade the tackle of Kentucky Wildcats cornerback J.D. Harmon (11) during the second half at Papa John

3

Louisville Cardinals

(9-3)

Last week: L 41-38 Kentucky
Last rank: 2nd

The Louisville Cardinals lost their last two games of the season. The Cardinals finish up 9-3 with some head-scratching losses after a season that saw much promise.

After posting a disappointing performance against Houston, the Cardinals lost to a Kentucky team they haven’t lost to since 2010. The Cardinals loss ruins any chance they had at getting a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson threw for 281 passing yards and two passing touchdowns and ran for 171 rushing yards with two touchdowns. But he also threw three interceptions. It was his first game of the season with multiple interceptions.

The Cardinals defense gave up the most total yards of offense all season to the Wildcats, surrendering 581 yards. The Wildcats’ 229 rushing yards is the most rushing yards allowed by the Cardinals defense as well.

Whats Next?

Its back to the drawing board for the Cardinals as they’ll probably take out their frustration on their bowl opponent. Current projections put the Cardinals in the TaxSlayer Bowl against Tennessee.

Nov 26, 2016; Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

2

Virginia Tech Hokies

(9-3)

Last week: W 52-10 Virginia
Last rank: 3rd

The Virginia Tech Hokies closed the season on a high note. They clinched the ACC Coastal division title. It is their first division title since 2011, and their 52-10 victory over Virginia capped off a good start to the Justin Fuente era. The Hokies finish 6-2 in ACC play.

The Hokies gained a season-high 579 total yards of offense in the game. Fullback Sam Rogers had 15 carries for 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns to power the offense. Quarterback Jerod Evans threw for 253 passing yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 38 rushing yards and a touchdown.

The defense forced three turnovers in the game, including a 60-yard fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka. They held the Cavaliers to just 14 first downs and kept them at 3-for-16 on third down conversions.

Not a bad season for a team undergoing a lot of changes under a new head coach.

Whats Next?

The ACC Championship game in Orlando against Clemson. The Hokies have lost the last three games to the Tigers including the 2011 ACC Championship game. Let’s see what the Justin Fuente era brings.

Nov 26, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Clemson Tigers finish the season at 11-1 and control their own destiny going into the ACC Championship game. Win and they’re pretty much in the College Football Playoff.

They made easy work on South Carolina in the final week 56-7.  The offense had 41 first downs, 622 total yards of offense, and eight touchdowns in the game.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson was nearly perfect completing 26-of-32 passes for 347 passing yards and six touchdowns. Receiver Mike Williams caught six passes for 100 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Running back Wayne Gallman ran for 112 rushing yards and a touchdown.

The Tigers defense held the Gamecocks to 14 first downs and 218 total yards of offense. They had eight tackles for loss and three sacks in the game as well.

Whats Next?

The Tigers face Virginia Tech as a heavy favorite to win the ACC Title. We’ll see if they can meet or exceed expectations in their game this week.

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