Another week in the ACC produces more upsets that open up the Atlantic Division, and VT gets one step closer to sealing their spot in Charlotte. They can lock it by going 2-1 in their final three games against UNC, Miami and UVA.
Since there were so many losses by top teams this week, the power rankings may look rather similar to last week, but we have a new number one, as Virginia Tech takes over the top spot from FSU.
1. Virginia Tech (7-2, 5-0) (LW #2, UP 1)
Virginia Tech finally takes over the #1 spot in the ACC. The Hokies got a big 28-21 win on Thursday night, and did so by overcoming a 14-0 deficit in the process. VT can probably thank their lucky stars for Nesbitt leaving the game. While they are riding high now, Bud Foster has to be concerned about the rush defense. A win is a win though, and the Hokies are getting closer to clinching their spot in Charlotte.
2. Florida State Seminoles (6-3, 4-2 in the ACC) (LW #1, DN 1)
Another "Wide Right" for FSU this weekend. This time hurts a lot too. The 'Noles lose their second game in a row, and second in a row to teams in North Carolina as well. Fortunately for Jimbo Fisher, Maryland and State lost this week too. The Atlantic is wide open right now, and the Seminoles take on Clemson next week. You never know what you are going to get with Clemson, but the Seminoles have to rebound and get a win this weekend.
3. N.C State (6-3, 3-2) (LW #3, --)
N.C State had a golden opportunity to grab the Atlantic Division by the throat, but let it slip away against Clemson on Saturday. State looked good at times, but couldn't hold on to an early lead to lose 14-13. Clemson is an extremely mercurial team, and certainly has the talent to beat anybody in the conference, but State should have won this one. They are now back where they started before the weekend positioning wise, and should easily get back on track against Wake Forest on Saturday.
4. Miami Hurricanes (6-3, 4-2) (LW #4, --)
After a stunning loss to Virginia last weekend, the Miami Hurricanes rebounded well, and got a dramatic 4th quarter victory over the Maryland Terrapins. This preserved their power ranking spot at #4, and also kept alive any chances they have to make it to Charlotte. Miami has to keep winning, and hope that UNC can knock the Hokies off this weekend. If UNC can do this, then Miami will get their chance at VT as well. They should have a very close game with the Jackets, and it will either eliminate GT from Charlotte, or eliminate Miami.
5. Maryland (6-3, 3-2) (LW #5, --)
Maryland had a fantastic chance to get a big win over Miami this weekend, but couldn't keep the Canes out of the end zone in the last minute. As much as the loss hurts, it could have been much worse if the Wolfpack and Seminoles hadn't slipped up as well. Maryland and N.C State both control their own fate in the Atlantic. The Terps can't get caught looking ahead to FSU and State in the coming weeks, and must TCOB against UVA this weekend.
6.Clemson (5-4, 3-3) (LW #6, --)
I don't know what to do with Clemson. As I have said, they continue to do less with more than any team in the ACC. That being said, when everybody counts them out, they always seem to get a win the next week. The offense is really struggling right now in Death Valley, but the defense is clicking along. Kyle Parker has to do better, but the Tigers are still alive in the division (albeit a very long shot), and can still make a pretty decent bowl for Dabo Swinney.
7. North Carolina (6-3, 3-2) (LW #8, UP 1)
After squeaking by William and Mary last weekend, UNC promptly went down to Tallahassee and knocked off Florida State 37-35. In the process, the Tar Heels suffered another blow, as a Johnny White broke his clavicle and is out for the year. The win catapulted the Heels to bowl eligibility, and it will be interesting to see how long they can keep it up. The Heels have to defeat VT this weekend to have any chance to go to Charlotte for the title game.
8. Georgia Tech (5-4, 3-3) (LW #7, down 1)
The Yellow Jackets played very well against Virginia Tech last Thursday night, but could not keep an early lead to get a crucial victory. Joshua Nesbitt has a broken arm and his career at Georgia Tech is almost certainly finished. He did break the ACC all-time QB rushing record before his injury, and will certainly go down as one of the better GT quarterbacks ever. Paul Johnson and his squad will become bowl eligible with their next win, and they will try to get that against Miami this weekend.
9. Boston College (4-5, 2-4) (LW #10, UP 1)
Boston College got a very easy victory this weekend over Wake Forest to keep their bowl hopes alive. With games against Duke, UVA and Syracuse ahead, I could see the Eagles easily getting to the 6 win mark. Syracuse is actually a pretty good team this year, but going 2-1 for this 3 game stretch is certainly doable for the Eagles. Their offense will have to get better, as the passing game was virtually non-existent against the Demon Deacons horrid secondary.
10. Duke (3-6, 1-4) (LW #11, UP 1)
Duke has now won two games in a row, and also broke their 8 game ACC losing skid with a victory over UVA on Saturday. A thrilling 55-48 win was exactly what Duke needed to get some momentum on their side for the rest of the year. This team has gotten better as the year has progressed. David Cutcliffe is doing a fine job in Durham, and the Devils could be a tough out for the next 2-3 years.
11. Virginia (4-5, 1-4) (LW #9, DN 2)
UVA failed to capitalize on their upset victory over Miami last weekend, and suffered a close loss to the Blue Devils. Mike London is still doing a good job, but the Cavs need to win out to become bowl eligible since they played 2 FCS teams this year. With games against Maryland, BC and VT, this is very unlikely, but the Wahoos should hold their heads high for what they have been able to do this year.
12. Wake Forest (2-7, 1-5) (LW #12, --)
No passion, no fight, and too many mistakes is becoming all too familiar a scene for Wake Forest fans this year. While the final score was respectable (23-13), the game was never in doubt. For all the talk about the horrendous defense this year (which is certainly warranted), the only offensive touchdown came on a Marshall Williams TD pass off a reverse. Tanner Price has seemingly regressed, and looks to have some fundamental flaws in his footwork and mechanics. Josh Harris has been relatively quiet since his big VT game, and also suffered a concussion to go with it. This team is certainly the worst in the ACC and has probably not improved all that much as the year as gone on. It doesn't get easier this week, with a game at N.C State that the Pack has to win. This could get very, very ugly and I expect Russell Wilson to tear up our secondary. Just a bad year for Wake Forest football.
Not a lot of changes this week because of the odd losses by all the top teams. I was close to putting UNC over Clemson, but decided in the end that Clemson is a better football team. This was helped out by the injuries and suspensions at UNC. It is a shame for Heels fans that there is little institutional control in Chapel Hill, because this team would have probably been right there with Virginia Tech to go to Charlotte from the Coastal.