Virginia fell short of winning the ACC Coastal, but still finished with an 8-4 record.
By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 13 ACC Power Rankings
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1. Virginia Tech (11-1) – With the Coastal Division title on the line, the Hokies delivered in a big way against Virginia. Virginia Tech jumped on the Cavaliers early and left no doubt in the second half as it cruised to a 38-0 victory. Quarterback Logan Thomas completed 13 of 21 throws for 186 yards and two touchdowns, while running back David Wilson added 159 yards and two scores on the ground. The shutout was the first for Virginia Tech since Sept. 25, 2010 when the Hokies blanked Boston College 19-0. With a win against Clemson next Saturday, Virginia Tech will claim its third ACC Championship in four seasons.
2. Georgia Tech (8-4) – The Yellow Jackets’ struggles against their in-state rivals continued with Saturday’s 31-17 loss to Georgia. The offense gained 355 yards, but committed two turnovers and managed only seven points in the second half. Quarterback Tevin Washington was pulled after a sluggish performance, completing only three of his 10 attempts for 34 yards and two picks. While the defense did a good job of containing Georgia’s rushing attack, it had no answer for quarterback Aaron Murray. With their 8-4 regular season record, the Yellow Jackets have at least eight wins in three out of four seasons under coach Paul Johnson.
3. Clemson (9-3) – Considering the Tigers won the Atlantic Division, there are plenty of reasons to be pleased with the 2011 season. However, the last few weeks have been a disappointment. The Tigers lost 31-17 to Georgia Tech, before clinching the division with a comeback win over Wake Forest. And Clemson has closed out the year with back-to-back losses, including a head-scratching 37-13 defeat to NC State and Saturday’s 34-13 loss to rival South Carolina. The Tigers have a young roster, so there is a lot of optimism about their chances to repeat as Atlantic champs next season. However, losing three out of its last four games is not what coach Dabo Swinney had in mind.
4. Virginia (8-4) – The Cavaliers have made big progress in just two years under coach Mike London. But they are not quite ready for primetime. Virginia was completely dominated by rival Virginia Tech 38-0 on Saturday afternoon. The victory clinched the ACC Coastal title for the Hokies. The Cavaliers’ managed only 243 yards of offense and committed four costly turnovers. A rushing attack that was among the best in the ACC barely got on track, which forced too much pressure on quarterback Michael Rocco against a solid Virginia Tech secondary. Although Virginia has to be disappointed it did not win the Coastal, it’s clear the program is headed in the right direction.
5. Florida State (8-4) – It wasn’t pretty, but the Seminoles knocked off Florida to finish the regular season with an 8-4 record. The victory over the Gators gave Florida State the Sunshine State title, thanks to an earlier 23-19 win over Miami. Improving the offense is going to be a top priority for coach Jimbo Fisher during the bowl practices. The Seminoles managed only 100 yards against Florida and scored only 13 points in the loss to Virginia in Week 12. With the young talent returning next season, Florida State could begin in many preseason top-10 lists. But there’s one more game to play this year, likely in the Champs Sports Bowl against Notre Dame or Chick-fil-A Bowl against Auburn.
6. North Carolina (7-5) – An interesting regular season in Chapel Hill finished with a 37-21 victory over Duke. After the firing of Butch Davis, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding which direction this team would go. However, interim coach Everett Withers led the team to a 7-5 record and a solid bowl appearance. One of the big reasons for North Carolina’s success this season was the play of running back Giovani Bernard. The redshirt freshman finished the regular season with 1,219 yards and 13 rushing scores. Quarterback Bryn Renner also had a solid season, throwing 23 touchdowns and 2,768 yards. Withers may not be back in Chapel Hill next season, but he did a respectable job as the team’s head coach in this year.
7. Miami (6-6) – Thanks to a bowl ban, the Hurricanes finished their season with a 24-17 loss to Boston College. Miami outgained the Eagles 367 to 349, but committed four costly turnovers. Quarterback Jacory Harris was largely responsible for those mistakes, as he tossed a season-high four interceptions. Running back Lamar Miller posted 114 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries, which could be his final performance in a Miami uniform. Miller is expected to consider entering the NFL Draft, which would be a big loss for the Hurricanes and their hopes to win the ACC in 2012. Coach Al Golden has been the source of speculation over the last few weeks and was rumored to be interested in the opening at Penn State. However, Golden received an extension to stay at Miami through the 2020 season.
8. Wake Forest (6-6) – The Demon Deacons closed out the regular season with a disappointing 41-7 loss to Vanderbilt. The defense was pushed around in the trenches by the Commodores’ offensive line, giving up nearly 300 rushing yards (297). Wake Forest’s offense was sluggish, with quarterback Tanner Price throwing for only 157 yards. Although the Demon Deacons finished with four losses in their last five games, they will play in a bowl game for the first time since 2008. And after a 3-9 record last year, Wake Forest has to be pleased with the direction of the program going into bowl practices and 2012 season.
9. NC State (7-5) – One of Week 13’s most bizarre games took place in Raleigh. The Wolfpack came out flat and trailed Maryland 41-14 with just over 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter. However, NC State scored 42 unanswered points, including a pick-six of Terrapin quarterback C.J. Brown for the exclamation point with a minute to go. The victory over Maryland was necessary for NC State to go bowling. With Miami’s decision to not play in a bowl, the Wolfpack are likely headed to Charlotte to play in the Belk Bowl. Coach Tom O’Brien’s job status has been the source of speculation, but getting bowl eligible and the victory over North Carolina a couple of weeks ago likely solidified his place for another year in Raleigh.
10. Boston College (4-8) – Overall, it was a disappointing season for the Eagles. However, the second half of the year provided some hope the program can bounce back into a bowl game next season. Boston College capped off its 2011 campaign with a surprising 24-17 victory over Miami on Friday afternoon. The win over the Hurricanes was the Eagles' second win in their last three games. The biggest question mark going into the offseason will be linebacker Luke Kuechly, who could enter the NFL Draft. Also, Boston College has to find some stability on offense in 2012, but could get a boost with the return of running back Montel Harris from a knee injury.
11. Duke (3-9) – The Blue Devils hung tough for a half, but eventually fell to North Carolina 37-21. The loss to the Tar Heels was Duke’s seventh in a row this year, after a three-game winning streak early in the season. What’s next for coach David Cutcliffe? It’s been slow, but there has been progress. The Blue Devils have to find a consistent rushing game and continue to improve their defense. Duke has not made a bowl game since the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl and would figure to be picked to finish last in the Coastal next season.
12. Maryland (2-10) – Coach Randy Edsall’s first year in College Park won’t be remembered with many pleasant memories. The Terrapins held a 41-14 lead over NC State, but allowed the Wolfpack to score 42 unanswered points and lost 56-41. Maryland finished the year with eight consecutive losses and not much positive momentum going into the offseason. Edsall does not appear to be well-liked by the players, and the attendance was an issue at some home games this year. Edsall isn’t in any danger of losing his job, but the Terrapins need to show progress next year to add long-term job security for this coaching staff.