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Week 12 ACC Power Rankings: Florida State Inches Closer to the Playoff

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After taking down another set of opponents, we are inching closer to seeing a Duke-Florida State matchup for the ACC Title. Ah, who am I kidding? The Coastal will definitely screw that up.

Jim Rogash

Hey, basically all of the fun bottom half of the Coastal was on a bye this week, so I hope you weren't too bored by the typical beat-downs inflicted by the likes of Florida State, Louisville, and Georgia Tech.

1:  Florida State Seminoles (9-0, 6-0 ACC)

Ranking:  2 (AP)/2 (USA Today)/2 (Playoff, not updated)
Week Seven Result:  34-20 W versus Virginia

Florida State was down 13-7 at the end of the first quarter, but that opening salvo would not be indicative of how the rest of the game would play out.  Jameis Winston threw two picks early on, but he managed to account for two touchdowns after that.  The better play of the night came from FSU's defense and kicker Roberto Aguayo, for the latter of which nailed two 40+ yard field goals.  FSU's defense did allow 20 points, but the majority of those came in the first quarter.  From that point on, they buckled down and forced three turnovers, opening the door to a dominant second quarter performance by the Seminoles.  FSU plays at Miami this Saturday in what could be the best remaining hope for FSU to pick up an ACC loss.

2:  Clemson Tigers (7-2, 6-1 ACC)
Ranking:  18 (AP)/17 (USA Today)/ 21 (Playoff, not updated)
Week Seven Result:  34-20 W at Wake Forest

For the majority of this game, Clemson was genuinely on upset alert.  Prior to their final two drives, the Tigers had 287 yards of offense, which was offset by the two turnovers that they committed.  Clemson's defense was the only thing that kept them in this game, as they held Wake Forest to a measly 7 rushing yards.  This weekend, Clemson travels to Atlanta in a matchup with Georgia Tech.  I'm so incredibly interested in seeing how the Tigers' run defense holds up against the Yellow Jackets' option attack.

3:  Louisville Cardinals (7-3, 5-3 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  38-19 W at Boston College

Boy was I a fool for putting Boston College ahead of Louisville last week.  Hindsight may be 20/20, but this past Saturday demonstrated why I couldn't have been more incorrect in my rankings.  I still have my doubts, however, about Reggie Bonnafon.  While he may be very athletic, there's no doubt that he still has to get some experience under his belt; it's understandable, seeing as he's a freshman, but I digress.  Louisville's defense used this game to once again showcase their defense, the best in the nation, as it picked off Tyler Murphy a whopping four times.

4:  Boston College Eagles (6-4, 3-3 ACC)
Ranking: NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  38-19 L versus Louisville

<>Did I mention already that Tyler Murphy had four picks?  Yeesh.  Boston College's defense couldn't seem to buy a stop against Louisville.  Wide receiver DeVante Parker was allowed to do as he pleased by the Eagles, as he managed to rack up 144 receiving yards and grab a touchdown catch.  Boston College will take a week off before heading to Tallahassee on the 22nd to face Florida State.

5:  NC State Wolfpack (5-5, 1-5 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  56-23 L versus Georgia Tech

Hey, this one was close in the first quarter, if that means anything.  From the very beginning, this one had the makings of a less-than-satisfactory game, as Sade's missed PAT served as an eerie omen of what was to come.  While Jacoby Brissett did provide some early-game heroics, his two interceptions served as major set backs for NC State, whose defense had no answer to Paul Johnson's triple-option scheme.  Now the Wolfpack prepare to host Wake Forest this weekend, which will serve as NC State's best opportunity to pick up that elusive sixth win and with it, bowl eligibility.

6:  Syracuse Orange (3-7, 1-5 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  27-10 L versus Duke

Syracuse is now eliminated from earning a bowl bid, which means that their biggest purpose left in this season is possibly spoiling Pitt's hopes to make a bowl game.  The Orange stuck with Duke up until the final quarter, but a special teams faux pas allowed Duke the momentum it needed to surge past them and bring home the victory.  Syracuse did, however, manage to have an atrocious passing performance, throwing two picks as neither quarterback who saw playing time managed to throw for over 70 yards.

7:  Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-7, 0-5 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  34-20 L versus Clemson

Despite their offensive woes, Wake Forest managed to put up a great fight against Clemson.  They may have only ran for 7 yards and they may have had a statline that featured two players putting up massive negative numbers, but they didn't turn the ball over at all.  Mark it down as a win.

Coastal Division

1:  Duke Blue Devils (8-1, 4-1 ACC)
Ranking:  19 (AP)/19 (USA Today)/22 (Playoff, not updated)
Week Seven Result:  27-10 W at Syracuse

Duke is chugging along through the remainder of their schedule after defeating Syracuse in a game that they would like to be redacted prior to their touchdown on a punt return in the fourth quarter.  Jamison Crowder's show of special teams heroics served as a fantastic way to kick the Blue Devils into gear to cruise to the victory.  From here, Duke has an incredibly facile schedule, but God knows that nothing is safe in the Coastal.

2:  Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-2, 5-2 ACC)
Ranking:  24 (AP)/23 (USA Today)/24 (Playoff, not updated)
Week Seven Result:  56-23 win at NC State

Georgia Tech is still regretting their earlier loss to Duke, but they are continuing to pick up win after win, waiting for Duke to somehow slip up and relinquish their hold on the Coastal Division.  The Yellow Jackets demolished NC State this week, as their option attack accounted for 479 total yards and 5 touchdowns.  When coming up against a team that can't properly defend the option well (which is most teams), the Yellow Jackets winnow through the opposition.

And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

3:  Miami (FL) Hurricanes (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  BYE

The Hurricanes are continuing to sit in perpetual third place in the Coastal, but their win over Duke continues to prove useful, giving them leverage if they were to make a push for the title game in these final few weeks.  Miami plays host to Florida State this weekend and I genuinely believe that Duke Johnson will not be stopped by FSU and that Miami will not go gentle into that good night.

4:  Pittsburgh Panthers (4-5, 2-3 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  BYE

I'm technically obligated to mention Pitt here.

They have routinely drawn the short end of the stick this season, but remaining games against UNC and Syracuse have obviously given them hope that a bowl game is within their reach.  Of course, they'd only need to win one game if they hadn't lost to Akron earlier in the year, but that's beside the point.

5:  North Carolina Tar Heels (4-5, 2-3 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  BYE

This was a very successful week for UNC's defense, allowing zero points.

They still have three games remaining on their schedule though, including matchups with Duke, Pitt and NC State.  I can't state enough how likely it is that UNC's bowl hopes hinge on their home game against NC State.  The Wolfpack could certainly be bowl eligible by then, but obviously nothing would be sweeter for them than to relegate UNC to a 5-7 record.

6:  Virginia Tech Hokies (4-5, 1-4 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  BYE

Being moved out of last place in these rankings is the Hokies' biggest win this season.  Well I mean they did beat Ohio State, but everybody has sort-of swept that under the rug, so I suppose we will too.

7:  Virginia Cavaliers (4-6, 2-4 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  34-20 L at Florida State

Yeah they will literally have to win out to make a bowl, which will be very difficult, given that their next two games are hosting Miami and at Virginia Tech.  Virginia has been on a downward spiral as of late, dropping their last four games, proving that those like myself who relied too heavily on tasseography after the Cavaliers' 4-2 start were so so so wrong.