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.