ACC Power Rankings: Seminoles No. 1 in nation, these rankings

1. No. 1 Florida State (12-0,

8-0 ACC)

Last

week’s ranking/result: 1 (W 37-7 at

Florida)

A

slow start for Florida State means only having 27 points through three

quarters. Naturally, it helps if the Seminole defense keeps the opponent

out of the end zone for three quarters, and holds the opponent to three

first-half first downs. THAT is why Florida State is arguably the best

team in the nation – the Seminoles just continue to dominate on both

sides of the ball. And now they’re a win away from their first

undefeated regular season since 1999. It’s safe to say, I think, that

Florida State is indeed

“back”. 

2. No. 13 Clemson (10-2, 7-1

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 2 (L 31-17 at No. 8 South

Carolina)

I

wanted to bump Clemson down to third, but only because I’m disappointed

in the Tigers. They had every opportunity to knock off South Carolina –

finally – and just couldn’t do it. Six turnovers is way too many, and

that’s at least an aspect of the game Clemson has some control over. It

just doesn’t help either head coach Dabo Swinney or the legacy of a

great quarterback (and better person) Tajh Boyd that neither could get

that win during Boyd’s time in Clemson, in spite of everything they’ve

accomplished together. And that’s just too

bad.

3. No. 20 Duke (10-2, 6-2

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 3 (W 27-25 at North

Carolina)

All

Duke football does is win games. And the Blue Devils have won eight in a

row. What head coach David Cutcliffe has done with this program is

nothing

short of remarkable, but this week’s win – as Cutcliffe

himself said – is a credit to his players. They made plays when they had

to in every phase of the game, proof positive that this program is on

the upswing. There are no real holes on this team. They might not be as

good as their opponent waiting in the ACC title game, but it doesn’t

matter. They’re good enough now to beat almost anyone except the cream

of the crop in the country, and they’re confident to

boot. 

4. Miami (9-3, 5-3

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 8 (W 41-31 at

Pittsburgh)

Miami’s

probably been punished a bit too harshly for its losses – at least in

terms of when they occurred in the season. The Hurricanes are still 9-3,

and they went up to Pittsburgh and dominated a cold-weather game by

sheer talent and willpower alone. It was a nice performance, and

hopefully the Canes can build on that in a nice bowl game. Maybe they

can start to build some consistency for next season as the program

continues to grow under Al

Golden. 

5. Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 7 (L 16-6 to Virginia

Tech)

Similar

to Miami, Virginia Tech was being treated a bit more harshly than other

teams simply because of the Hokies’ ACC history. Unlike their Coastal

Division counterparts, they’re not a team that routinely goes out and

loses head-scratching games year after year while beating the good teams

in the Division. They’re supposed to be the consistent ones. But every

program is entitled to a few hiccups, and the Hokies are still 8-4 and

were a few seconds away from going back to the ACC Championship game

again (if Duke hadn’t hung

on). 

6. Georgia Tech (7-5, 5-3

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 4 (L 41-34 to No. 25 Georgia in

2OT)

Georgia

Tech’s offense is supposed to mean that it’s almost impossible to come

back from a deficit against the Yellow Jackets. Evidently not, as they

squandered a 20-0 second-quarter lead (20-7 at halftime) to in-state

rival Georgia, eventually falling 41-34 in overtime. It was a depleted

Georgia team that Georgia Tech had every opportunity to finish off and

simply couldn’t get the job done. It’s mind-boggling, really. This was

the year to finally knock off UGA. If not now, when for Georgia Tech? A

scary

thought.

7. North Carolina (6-6, 4-4

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 5 (L 27-25 to No. 20

Duke)

The

Tar Heels had a good effort against Duke and played the Blue Devils

fairly evenly, but the defense couldn’t get stops when it mattered and

the offense couldn’t get out of its own way in terms of penalties.

Still, it was UNC’s first loss since October 17 (to a then-ranked Miami

team) and all but two of UNC’s losses this year came to a team that was

ranked in the AP poll either the week it played UNC or the week after

(Virginia Tech). It was a nice way to end the regular season, and now

the Tar Heels have to hope that they can continue to grow their young

talent under head coach Larry Fedora in the upcoming bowl

practices. 

8. Boston College (7-5, 4-4

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 6 (L 34-31 at

Syracuse)

Andre

Williams’ injury in the third quarter didn’t help BC’s cause at

Syracuse, but credit to the Eagles – they finished off the drive that

Williams was injured on in the third quarter (to tie the game at 21) and

then scored ten more fourth-quarter points, but it wasn’t enough to

hold off Syracuse on the road. BC still has shown a ton of progress this

year under Steve Addazio, and if David Cutcliffe weren’t in the ACC,

Addazio would be getting a lot more buzz for ACC Coach of the Year after

this BC team had two wins a year

ago. 

9. Syracuse (6-6, 4-4

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 11 (W 34-31 over Boston

College)

Not

taking anything away from Syracuse here, but one reason they’re not

ahead of Boston College (in spite of the head-to-head win) is the injury

to Andre Williams. Syracuse, though, got arguably its most impressive

win this year over the Eagles, needing to erase a deficit in the fourth

quarter twice to get it. This young Syracuse team under Scott Shafer is

now bowl-eligible, and they’ve shown particularly encouraging signs

later in the season that things are going in the right

direction. 

10. Maryland (7-5, 3-5

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 10 (W 41-21 at N.C.

State)

Maryland

has become so difficult to predict from week-to-week that it’s hard to

evaluate what is reasonable to expect out of them and what isn’t,

particularly as its injury situation fluctuates. But how could anyone

have expected the Terps to go to Raleigh and blow out an N.C. State team

that, while struggling, had to be up for that game? Pretty impressive,

and now Maryland will finally get weeks of extra practice under head

coach Randy Edsall to prepare for a bowl game. Hopefully no one else

gets hurt in that timeframe and Edsall can use it positively as he tries

to build his

program. 

11. Pittsburgh (6-6, 3-5

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: 9 (L 41-31 to

Miami)

Miami

was reeling, and all Pitt had to do was put together four consistent

quarters of football – in theory, anyway – to at least give the

Hurricanes a game. Instead, the Panthers fell behind early – again – and

couldn’t come all the way back after facing a 31-10 deficit at the end

of the second quarter. Pitt’s shown a lot of signs of progress, but the

Panthers are so up and down this year it’s tough to know what to make of

them, frankly. Two of their wins are against top-25 teams (Duke and

Pitt), but other top-caliber opponents have made it look easy, frankly.

They’ll get better under Paul Chryst, certainly, but this season was a

head-scratcher. 

12. Wake Forest (4-8, 2-6

ACC) 

Last

week’s ranking/result: 12 (L 23-21 at

Vanderbilt)

Good

for the Deacs to keep fighting and playing hard, and they nearly pulled

off an upset win at Vanderbilt. But almost doesn’t count, and a win

like that might have made this season – which included a home loss to

Louisiana-Monroe – even more painful in

hindsight. 

T-14. N.C. State (3-9, 0-8

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: T-14 (L 41-21 to

Maryland)

The

best thing that can be said about Dave Doeren’s first season as N.C.

State’s head coach is that it’s over. Oh, and that there is plenty of

help on the way in the form of a very good recruiting class. But this is

N.C. State’s first winless ACC season since 1959, and it can’t leave a

very good taste in anyone’s mouth in

Raleigh. 

T-14. Virginia (2-10, 0-8

ACC)

Last week’s

ranking/result: T-14 (W 16-6 at

Virginia)

Almost

moved Virginia ahead of N.C. State based on its game being closer than

the Wolfpack’s, but you know what? Both are equally awful. End of

discussion. Now, the only question is whether Mike London’s recruiting

class next year will be enough to save his job. It probably is for now,

but no

one is happy in

Hooville