By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 4 ACC Power Rankings
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1. Virginia Tech (4-0) – With Florida State falling to Clemson, the Hokies move up from No. 2 into the top spot. Virginia Tech is coming off a solid 30-10 win over Marshall, but the schedule difficulty is getting ready to pickup. The Hokies host Clemson and Miami over the next two weeks, which will play a role in establishing a pecking order in the ACC. Virginia Tech is still the favorite to win the Coastal Division, but Georgia Tech looks like a bigger threat as each week passes.
2. Clemson (4-0) – Thanks to wins over Auburn and Florida State, the Tigers have made a significant jump in the power rankings over the last two weeks. Clemson’s 35-30 win over Florida State was huge in the ACC Atlantic race and should give coach Dabo Swinney a little boost in job security. However, the schedule doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech on tap this Saturday. After four games at home to begin the season, it’s time to see what the Tigers are made of on the road.
3. Georgia Tech (4-0) – The Yellow Jackets continued their hot start to 2011, defeating North Carolina 35-28 on Saturday. Georgia Tech is 4-0 for the first time since 1990 and the upcoming slate is favorable – at NC State, Maryland and at Virginia. Yes, some of the competition faced hasn’t been great, but the Yellow Jackets rank first nationally in scoring and total offense.
4. Florida State (2-2) – Even with quarterback EJ Manuel sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Seminoles had a chance to win against Clemson. However, Florida State could not overcome 11 costly penalties and struggled to establish the rushing attack once again. The Seminoles have a bye this Saturday, which should allow for Manuel’s return to the lineup on Oct. 8 at Wake Forest. Losing to Clemson is a setback in the ACC Atlantic race, but Florida State has plenty of time to dig out of this early hole.
5. North Carolina (3-1) – The Tar Heels suffered their first defeat of 2011, dropping a 35-28 decision to Georgia Tech. Like the Yellow Jackets’ first three opponents, North Carolina struggled to find an answer on defense for the option attack. The Tar Heels allowed 312 rushing yards and three scores to Georgia Tech. North Carolina steps out of conference for a trip to East Carolina this Saturday.
6. Miami (1-2) – One of the most surprising scores from Week 4 was Miami’s defeat to Kansas State. The Hurricanes were coming off an impressive victory over Ohio State one week prior, while the Wildcats had started the year with an awful performance against Eastern Kentucky. Miami’s defense struggled to stop Kansas State’s rushing attack, allowing 265 yards and two scores on the ground to the Wildcats. The Hurricanes should have an easy victory over Bethune-Cookman this Saturday.
7. Wake Forest (2-1) – The Demon Deacons had a bye in Week 4 and return to the heart of ACC play with a trip to Boston College on Saturday. Wake Forest needs just one victory to equal its win total from 2010. There’s a lot of football to be played, but the Demon Deacons are one of the most-improved teams in the ACC.
8. Maryland (1-2) – The Terrapins started of 2011 on the right foot by defeating Miami in the season opener. However, there have been few positives over the last two games. Maryland needed a furious rally in the second half to have a chance to beat West Virginia, and was thoroughly handled by Temple on Saturday. Expect the Terrapins to bounce back into the win column this week, as Towson visits College Park.
9. NC State (2-2) – The Wolfpack have yet to record a win over a FBS team this season. NC State defeated Liberty in Week 1 and South Alabama in Week 3, which means this team will have to earn seven wins to get bowl eligible. New quarterback Mike Glennon has been fine, but the offensive line and rushing attack haven’t provided much help. The Wolfpack host Georgia Tech this Saturday.
10. Virginia (2-2) – After opening the year 2-0, the Cavaliers have lost back-to-back games. Although Southern Miss is one of the top contenders in the Conference USA race, it’s a game Virginia should not lose. Freshman quarterback David Watford saw his playing time increase on Saturday, throwing for 81 yards and one touchdown, while adding 22 yards on the ground. Look for Virginia to get back into the win column against Idaho this Saturday.
11. Duke (2-2) – After defeating Tulane 48-27 on Saturday, the Blue Devils are riding a two-game winning streak. Quarterback Sean Renfree was solid in the victory over the Green Wave, completing 21 of 30 passes for 278 yards and a score. Duke hits the road for a difficult non-conference matchup against FIU this Saturday. The Blue Devils still have hopes of making a bowl, but they have to win against the Golden Panthers to keep those dreams alive.
12. Boston College (1-3) – The Eagles are the last team in the ACC to earn their first win of 2011. In Saturday’s victory over Massachusetts, senior running back Montel Harris made his return to the lineup. Harris rushed for 27 yards on nine carries. Boston College still has hopes of going to a bowl, but Saturday’s game against Wake Forest is a must-win.