1. Florida State (7-0, 5-0 ACC) Last Week 1
Result: (W 49-17 vs. North Carolina State)
This Week: vs. Miami
Florida State was absolutely dominant in their 49-17 victory over the North Carolina State Wolfpack. The Seminoles were up 35-0 after the first quarter and 42-0 by halftime. Jameis Winston was his usual sensational self and threw for nearly 300 yards and had a QBR of 96.0. The Seminoles were dominant and outgained North Carolina State by 250 yards. Next week the Seminoles will look to win another battle of unbeatens when they take on the Miami Hurricanes. I look for the Noles to roll in that one.
2. Clemson (7-1, 5-1 ACC) Last Week 2
Result: (W 40-27 at Maryland)
This Week: at Virginia
Clemson was relatively lethargic in this game and was only up by six headed into the fourth, but the Tigers outscored Maryland 21-14 in the fourth quarter to win by a final score of 40-27. Clemson outgained Maryland by nearly 200 yards thanks in large part to Sammy Watkins, who had had 14 receptions for 163 yards, and Roderick McDowell who ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. Clemson probably won't be challenged much until their game against South Carolina on November 30th. With teams like Fresno State and Northern Illinois probably going undefeated, it's no longer a guarantee the ACC will get two teams in the BCS. Of course, Clemson definitely won't make it if they lose to South Carolina.
3. Miami (7-0, 3-0 ACC) Last Week 3
Result: (W 24-21 vs. Wake Forest)
This Week: at Florida State
Duke Johnson and Miami did just enough to avoid getting upset by Wake Forest. Johnson returned from his migraine just fine and ran for 160 yards on 30 carries. Several Miami receivers made some exceptional catches that allowed Miami to extend drives and ultimately score. Stephen Morris continued to struggle, and he will need to perform much better if they want to have any chance to beat Florida State this week. Miami is still the favorite to win the Coastal, but this game showed their vulnerability.
4. Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC) Last Week 6
Result: (W 13-10 at Virginia Tech)
This Week: BYE
Congratulations to Duke who will be going bowl for their second consecutive season. It's the first time they are doing that in school history. The Blue Devils did so by defeating #14 Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium. It was their first victory over a ranked opponent since 1994, and their first road victory of a ranked opponent since 1971. I don't give the Blue Devils any real shot at winning the Coastal, but I do expect them to extend their winning streak to five following their bye when they take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
5. Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1 ACC) Last Week 4
Result: (L 13-10 vs. Duke)
This Week: at Boston College
Virginia Tech's defense is still really good. They limited Duke to under 200 total yards and picked off Anthony Boone four times. Six of the thirteen points they surrendered were on the field goals of more than 50 yards. The problem is that Logan Thomas decided to turn the ball over every chance he could. Tomas was very effective on the ground and ran for more than 100 yards, but he completed just 55% of his passes and had a QBR of 21.6. The Hokies just had too many interceptions and too many turnovers and missed fourth down conversions at critical points in the game. Virginia Tech still has a fine chance to win the Coastal, so their fans shouldn't panic just yet. Their game against Boston College isn't a gimme, though.
6. Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2 ACC) Last Week 5
Result: (W 35-25 at Virginia)
This Week: vs. Pittsburgh
Georgia Tech continued their impressive offensive ways as they racked up more than 500 yards of offense against Virginia this past Saturday. Georgia Tech had three rushers go over 100 yards on the ground, including David Sims whose 29 yard touchdown run with 1:55 to go in the fourth quarter sealed the victory for Paul Johnson's team. This week Georgia Tech has an excellent opportunity to become bowl eligible when they take on Pittsburgh at home. If they don't take care of business this week, then they'll have to defeat either Clemson or Georgia, which is no small task.
7. Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3 ACC) Last Week 8
Result: (L 24-21 at Miami)
This Week: at Syracuse
This loss still hurts. I could write this column five weeks from now and it would still hurt. I was incredibly proud of how Wake played. Again, I'm not one for moral victories, but that was the best I've seen a Wake Forest football team play in several seasons. Tanner Price continued playing at a high level, Tyree Harris was exceptional, Michael Campanaro was his typical self, and our defense played very well. If Wake Forest can keep up the level of play they've displayed the past three games, then I believe the Deacs will be going bowling. Syracuse is an absolute must-win game for the Deacs, and I think they're going to get it done.
8. North Carolina (2-5, 1-3 ACC) Last Week 10
Result: (W 34-10 vs. Boston College)
This Week: at North Carolina State
North Carolina has started to play their best football of the season and now Carolina, at least Eric Ebron, is very confident that they will beat North Carolina State this weekend in Raleigh. North Carolina is now utilizing an interesting two quarterback system with Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams. I've said that I still believe Carolina will make a bowl and I stand by that. I fully expect them to beat North Carolina State this weekend.
9. Boston College (3-4, 1-3 ACC) Last Week 7
Result: (L 34-10 at North Carolina)
This Week: vs. Virginia Tech
This was not a good week to #BeADude. Boston College simply couldn't pass against North Carolina's secondary. Chase Rettig only managed 57 yards on 20 attempts. Andre Williams was dominant again; rushing for 172 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. But outside of Williams' 56 yard touchdown run in the first quarter, they really struggled offensively. Now Boston College will take on a Virginia Tech team who although they are coming off a loss, is still an outstanding defensive team. Boston College won't have to put up a lot of points to win, but the problem is it will be very difficult to even manage a few points. Boston College played admirably against Florida State at home several weeks ago. Another performance like that could get it done. A bowl berth now seems less likely, but they still definitely have a shot.
10. Pittsburgh (4-3, 2-2 ACC) Last Week 9
Result: (L 24-21 at Navy)
This Week: at Georgia Tech
Pittsburgh just didn't execute well enough to close out this game. The Panthers scored a touchdown with a little over 8 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but then allowed Navy to go on a 10-play 71 yard touchdown drive. Pitt followed that up by going 3 and out, and then allowed a game winning field goal drive. Pittsburgh now must win two of their final five games to make a bowl game, but all of those give games are against quality opponents. As of right now I think the Panthers finish the season 5-7.
11. Maryland (5-3, 1-3 ACC) Last Week 11
Result: (L 40-27 vs. Clemson)
This Week: BYE
Considering their injury situation (h/t Jeff Fischel, @JeffFischel ) this game against Clemson certainly could have gone a lot worse. Maryland simply couldn't get stops, and their defense was left on the field for most of the afternoon. Lavern Jacobs, who had eight receptions for 158 yards and a touchdown, did a nice job stepping in for injured receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Maryland has a bye week before taking on Syracuse in College Park. I expect Maryland to emerge from that game bowl eligible.
12. Syracuse (3-4, 1-2 ACC) Last Week 13
This Week: vs. Wake Forest
Syracuse is coming off a bye and will be looking to get their season turned around when they take of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Orange suffered a 56-0 thrashing at the hands of Georgia Tech the week before, and absolutely looked dreadful. Terrel Hunt and Drew Allen both have a tendency to the turn the ball over, which is not ideal against a Wake Forest team who has an excellent turnover margin. Syracuse has struggled this season, but that's to be expected when a team loses its quarterback and head coach to the NFL.
13. Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC) Last Week 12
Result: (L 25-35 vs. Georgia Tech)
This Week: vs. Clemson
Virginia won the turnover battle by four, had fewer penalties and possessed the ball for nearly ten more minutes than the Yellow Jackets, but their paltry 2.2 yards per carry on 31 carries ultimately cost them the game. Virginia now must take on Clemson next weekend and arguably has the most difficult remaining schedule in the ACC. I know that Virginia's athletic director said Mike London will return next season, but I just don't see much justification for that. This team could easily go 2-10, and I'll be curious if Mike London still has his athletic director's support then.
14. North Carolina State (3-4, 0-4 ACC) Last Week 14
Result: (L 49-17 at Florida State)
This Week: vs. North Carolina
North Carolina State started the season off 3-1, with their lone loss coming to a top-ten team in Clemson. Since then, the Wolfpack have lost three ACC games in a row and are now sitting at 3-4 and are in serious jeopardy of not making a bowl. This week they take on their arch-rival in the North Carolina Tar Heels, who is playing their best football of the season.
Please feel free to leave comments as I'd love to hear your rankings.