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Week 11 Power Rankings: NC State Gets a Conference Win

After weeks and weeks of failed attempts at coming out victorious in conference play, NC State defeated Syracuse to move within one game of a bowl berth.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

This week, the ACC was chock-full of eventful games, spearheaded by a massive Florida State comeback win and a thrilling finish in the Duke vs Pitt game.  Oh and did I mention that NC State is now one win from bowl eligibility?  No?  Well there it is.

Atlantic Division

1:  Florida State Seminoles (8-0, 5-0 ACC)
Ranking:  2 (AP)/2 (USA Today)/2 (Playoff, not updated)
Week Seven Result:  42-31 W at Louisville

Florida State was on the ropes last Thursday.  Louisville had built up a 21-point lead on the Seminoles and it was looking like there would be a new number two team in the nation come Monday.  Jameis Winston was shaky in the first half, throwing three picks against a ferocious Louisville defense.  Winston did manage to bounce back, however, and throw three second half touchdown passes, contributing to the 35 second half points scored by the Seminoles.  Florida State now has big wins over the two biggest threats to their Atlantic Division dominance, meaning that the road to the ACC title game will be a bit less bumpy.

2:  Clemson Tigers (6-2, 5-1 ACC)
Ranking:  19 (AP)/19 (USA Today)/ 21 (Playoff, not updated)
Week Seven Result:  BYE

The bye week treated Clemson much better than the dismal week they had against Syracuse.  Clemson has had plenty of time to prepare for a matchup with Wake Forest this Thursday, a game which will likely be decided before it begins.

3:  Boston College Eagles (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Ranking: NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  33-31 W at Virginia Tech

Boston College almost let this one slip out of their grasp, but their rushing game obviously had something else in mind.  The Eagles allowed 21 fourth quarter points, but the leadership shown by a ground unit that notched 258 rushing yards and two touchdowns proved to be enough to put them over the top.  I've got them ranked higher than Louisville based on the fact that Louisville blew a Brobdingnagian lead that they were more than capable of holding on to.  Plus, Boston College has shown impressive growth in recent weeks, having the tenth-best ground game in the country.

4:  Louisville Cardinals (6-3, 4-3 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/25 (Playoff, not updated)
Week Seven Result:  42-31 L versus Florida State

Oh, Louisville.  You guys were so close to snapping Florida State's seemingly-eternal winning streak and thus rocketing up the polls.  Instead, Louisville let a 21-0 first half lead slip out of their grasp, as the Seminoles put up 42 points on Louisville.  That's a feat that isn't quotidian, as Louisville has had the best defense in the nation all season.  While they did manage to pick off Winston thrice, the Cardinals couldn't hang onto the lead, despite the best efforts of Michael Dyer, who had three touchdowns and 134 yards.

5:  NC State Wolfpack (5-4, 1-4 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  24-17 W at Syracuse

Gloom is no longer in the NC State locker room.  The Wolfpack have won their first game in six weeks and they couldn't be more elated.  That's especially true when one realizes that the victory over Syracuse was the first ACC win in Dave Doeren's tenure.  It has been a rough few weeks, but NC State is now one win away from earning bowl eligibility, something that seemed like a distant and unattainable goal only a short time ago.  Also, Niklas Sade deserves commendation for his performance, as he was 3/3 on his field goal attempts.

6:  Syracuse Orange (3-6, 1-4 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  24-17 L versus NC State

Perhaps the biggest reason for Syracuse's loss can be placed on the poor performance of the rushing game, as the Orange only managed a measly 38 rushing yards, a far cry from the 165 they usually gain in each game.  Syracuse is now one game away from being eliminated from bowl eligibility, and it would take an incredible run against Duke, Pitt, and Boston College to have any hope at a thirteenth game this season.

7:  Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-6, 0-4 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  BYE

A bye week was literally one of the best possible options for Wake Forest this week.  It would have been incredibly difficult for the Demon Deacons to defeat Clemson this Thursday if they had been coming off of a game this past weekend.  Nevertheless, I highly doubt that this game will be Wake Forest's first ACC win of the season.

Coastal Division

1:  Duke Blue Devils (7-1, 3-1 ACC)
Ranking:  22 (AP)/20 (USA Today)/24 (Playoff, not updated)
Week Seven Result:  51-48 W at Pitt in 2OT

It feels as if Duke is running away with the Coastal Division, but they have not played as many conference games as other Coastal teams, meaning that the possibility that they could still lose the division is there.  However, I do think that the likelihood that Duke will lose the Coastal is small.  They have wins over Georgia Tech and Pitt, and they should have a good shot at winning out in their last four games, meaning that they have a good shot at meeting Florida State in the ACC title game with an 11-1 record.

2:  Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-2, 4-2 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  35-10 W versus Virginia

The Yellow Jackets have been playing very well since their back-to-back losses to Duke and North Carolina, but they're still in the passenger's seat of the Coastal title race.  The unnecessary and shocking loss to the Tar Heels has hampered their hopes at getting a chance to beat Florida State.  And with games against Clemson and Georgia left on the schedule, that dream is looking less and less likely.

3:  Miami (FL) Hurricanes (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  47-20 W versus UNC

Miami is not getting lauded for its consistently swell performances like it deserves.  The Hurricanes are on an offensive tear right now, blowing out their last three opponents by a cumulative score of 132-60.  Leading the attack has been running back Duke Johnson, who has eclipsed 1200 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.  There's some definite momentum pushing the Hurricanes along, and Florida State had better watch out when it heads to Miami.  They just might suffer the same fate Duke did in late September.

4:  Pittsburgh Panthers (4-5, 2-3 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  51-48 L in 2OT versus Duke

Pitt came so close to giving our own Will Thompson some great #goacc fodder for this week, as the enigmatic Panthers nearly came away with a win against the seemingly invulnerable Blue Devils.  Nevertheless, the game proved to be incredibly entertaining, coming down to a Duke touchdown in double overtime that served to override the field goal that Pitt had just scored.  Oh and Pitt's rushing game was fantastic too.  It was a real shame that the 4 touchdowns and 358 rushing yards still amounted in a loss.

5:  North Carolina Tar Heels (4-5, 2-3 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  47-20 L at Miami

If I said that I am surprised by the score of this one, I would be lying in such an egregious manner that I should never hope to be allowed to write on this website again. We all know that UNC's defense has been woeful all season long, so it was no surprise that Duke Johnson would rush for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns when he was faced with the Tar Heels. With UNC's remaining schedule, we could very well be headed for a 5-6 North Carolina team facing off against a 5-6 NC State team in the final game of the season to see who heads to a bowl and who heads home.

6:  Virginia Cavaliers (4-5, 2-3 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  35-10 L at Georgia Tech

Yeesh.  I am still so confused laughably dumbfounded at what happened to this team.  After that monstrous win over Pitt, the Cavaliers looked like a team that could finally bring Mike London a modicum of success.  Instead, they have collapsed when faced against the toughest teams in the division, which has caused them to plummet to the near-bottom of the ACC standings and thus, these power rankings.

7:  Virginia Tech Hokies (4-5, 1-4 ACC)
Ranking:  NR/NR/NR
Week Seven Result:  33-31 L versus Boston College

Good God what is there to say?  It has been said so often and in so many ways that this team looked promising after that win against Ohio State.  That team, however, is not this team.  Something is different and I am not sure if I can quite pinpoint what is causing the ineptitude.  I do think that a large portion of the blame lies on the lack of consistency from the offense.  In their last three games, all of which were losses, the Hokies have either had a solid passing game and a poor rushing game, or vice-versa.  It has amounted in an unpredictable offense that is incredibly easy for opposing teams to defend.  I do, however, have a strange feeling that Virginia Tech will nevertheless make a bowl, as I believe that they'll manage to pull off wins against Wake Forest and Virginia to get wins number five and six.