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Clemson is headed back to the ACC Championship.
By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 11 ACC Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Clemson (9-1) – Saturday’s performance against Wake Forest certainly wasn’t the Tigers’ best, but it was enough to clinch the ACC Atlantic title. Quarterback Tajh Boyd looked out of sync against the Demon Deacons, completing only 27 of 43 throws and tossing two picks. Receiver Sammy Watkins suffered a shoulder injury and was forced to exit the game early. However, the freshman is expected to return to practice this week and could play in Saturday’s game at NC State. The Tigers’ opponent in the ACC title game is still up in the air, but they could face a rematch against Virginia Tech.
2. Virginia Tech (9-1) – The Hokies inched closer to a spot in the ACC title game with a 37-26 victory over Georgia Tech on Thursday night. Quarterback Logan Thomas continues to make progress in his first year as the starter, throwing for 209 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 70 yards and two scores on the ground. Running back David Wilson also continued his stellar season, rushing for 175 yards on 23 attempts. Virginia Tech hosts North Carolina this Thursday, and can clinch the Coastal title with a win and a Virginia loss against Florida State on Saturday.
3. Florida State (7-3) – The Seminoles snapped a two-game losing streak in Tallahassee against Miami, knocking off the Hurricanes 23-19. The offense struggled to get on track, as quarterback EJ Manuel threw for only 196 yards, and Florida State managed only 63 on the ground. However, the defense came up big by forcing three turnovers, and Greg Reid scored on an 83-yard punt return late in the first half. The Seminoles have won five games in a row and host a fast-improving Virginia team this week.
4. Georgia Tech (7-3) – Thanks to Thursday’s 37-26 loss to Virginia Tech, the Yellow Jackets were eliminated from the ACC Coastal race. The defeat to the Hokies was Georgia Tech’s third in four games, which dropped its record to 7-3. Although Paul Johnson’s team is out of the mix for the conference title, there’s still plenty to play for. The Yellow Jackets play at Duke this Saturday, before closing the year against rival Georgia. Georgia Tech could finish the regular season with an 8-4 or 9-3 record and would squarely be on the radar for a spot in the Sun Bowl.
5. Virginia (7-3) – The Cavaliers kept their ACC Coastal title hopes alive with a 31-21 victory over Duke. While beating the Blue Devils seems like a minor feat, Virginia had lost the last three matchups in the series. Head coach Mike London has done a great job in just two years at Virginia and has been rumored to be a target at Penn State. However, London appears to be more interested in sticking around and building the Cavaliers into a consistent winner in the ACC. If Virginia wants to make the season finale against Virginia Tech a de-facto Coastal title game, it needs to beat Florida State this Saturday.
6. Miami (5-5) - It hasn’t been an easy season for first-year coach Al Golden, but the Hurricanes keep fighting. Miami came up just short against rival Florida State on Saturday, losing 23-19 and dropping its overall record to 5-5. The Hurricanes still need one more win to get bowl eligible and travel to Tampa to take on South Florida this Saturday. The Bulls claimed last season’s matchup, winning 23-20 in Miami. If the Hurricanes lose on Saturday, they should record win No. 6 against Boston College on Nov. 25.
7. North Carolina (6-4) – The Tar Heels had a bye in Week 11 and return to action on Thursday night at Virginia Tech. North Carolina got off to a promising 5-1 start, but has since lost three out of its last four games, including a 13-0 defeat to rival NC State. The Tar Heels have lost six out of their last seven games to Virginia Tech, but won the last time these two teams played in Blacksburg. One bit of good news for North Carolina going into Thursday night’s game: quarterback Bryn Renner should play after suffering a concussion against the Wolfpack.
8. Wake Forest (5-5) – The Demon Deacons came up just short in their upset bid against Clemson, falling 31-28 on a last-second field goal. Wake Forest led 28-14 late in the third quarter, but was unable to hold off a furious rally by the Tigers. Although the moral victory probably won’t sit well with coach Jim Grobe, it’s clear this a much-improved team from 2010. The Demon Deacons still need one more win to get bowl eligible, and they face Maryland this Saturday, before finishing the regular season against Vanderbilt.
9. NC State (5-5) – Coach Tom O’Brien seems to have rival North Carolina’s number, but beating his former team (Boston College) has been difficult. The Wolfpack lost 14-10 to the Eagles on Saturday, dropping NC State to 5-5 and in serious jeopardy of missing a bowl game. NC State has lost four out of its last five games against Boston College. Thanks to two victories over FCS opponents, the Wolfpack will need seven wins to get to the postseason. And getting there won’t be easy with ACC Atlantic champ Clemson visiting Raleigh this Saturday.
10. Duke (3-7) – Any chance the Blue Devils had of making a bowl officially ended with Saturday’s 31-21 defeat to Virginia. The offensive line suffered a huge blow during the game, as tackle Kyle Hill was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Duke is also riding a five-game losing streak as it enters the final two games of 2011. The Blue Devils take on Georgia Tech this Saturday, before playing at North Carolina on Nov. 26. Although coach David Cutcliffe has made small progress during his tenure, Duke still needs a lot of help to get to a bowl next year.
11. Boston College (3-7) – The Eagles won’t go to a bowl game or have a winning record, but at least they haven’t quit on coach Frank Spaziani. Boston College earned its second victory in three games, knocking off NC State 14-10 on Saturday. Running back Andre Williams has been in and out of the lineup due to injuries, but led the team with 61 rushing yards against the Wolfpack. Also, backup quarterback Josh Bordner continued to give the offense a spark, adding 21 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Eagles close out 2011 with road games at Notre Dame and Miami.
12. Maryland (2-8) – A bad season continued to get worse with a 45-21 blowout loss to Notre Dame on Saturday. The Terrapins were ineffective on offense, while the defense gave up more than 30 points for the sixth time this season. Quarterback Danny O’Brien has been sharing snaps with C.J. Brown, but suffered an arm injury against the Irish and will miss the rest of the season. There are a lot of problems with this team, including what seems to be a division between the players and coach Randy Edsall. Will those issues get fixed before next season? If not, 2012 is going to be another long year in College Park.