By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 6 ACC Power Rankings
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1. Clemson (6-0) – As expected, the Tigers had little trouble knocking off Boston College. However, the win came at a price, as quarterback Tajh Boyd suffered a hip injury in the second half. The injury initially appeared to be serious, but Boyd is listed as probable for Saturday’s game against Maryland. Freshman receiver Sammy Watkins turned in another big performance against the Eagles, catching seven passes for 152 yards. Watkins has three games of at least 100 receiving yards and is averaging 16.4 yards per catch.
2. Georgia Tech (6-0) – The Yellow Jackets posted a season-low 21 points against Maryland, but still found a way to get the victory. Quarterback Tevin Washington led the way with 234 total yards and two rushing touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets’ defense allowed 13 points in the second half, but delivered a big stop late in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory. Georgia Tech is off to its first 6-0 start since 1966. The Yellow Jackets control their destiny in the ACC Coastal race and hit the road the next two weeks for games against Virginia and Miami.
3. Virginia Tech (5-1) – One week after a disappointing 23-3 loss in Blacksburg to Clemson, the Hokies responded with a 38-35 win over Miami. Quarterback Logan Thomas was heavily criticized for his performance against Clemson, but turned in the best start of his career on Saturday, throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore also posted two rushing touchdowns, including the game-winner with less than a minute remaining. The Hokies have another tough conference game this Saturday, as they travel to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest.
4. Wake Forest (4-1) – Most preseason predictions did not have the Demon Deacons even earning four wins all year. As the midpoint of the 2011 season approaches, it’s clear Wake Forest is a much-improved team and will be a factor in the ACC title race. The Demon Deacons knocked off Florida State 35-30 on Saturday, which was their fourth win in six games against the Seminoles. Wake Forest has another tough conference game this week, as Virginia Tech visits Winston-Salem this Saturday.
5. North Carolina (5-1) – The Tar Heels aren’t getting much national attention, but they are quietly off to a good start. Saturday’s 14-7 win over Louisville moves North Carolina one step closer to bowl eligibility, while the team still has a shot to win the ACC Coastal. Quarterback Bryn Renner threw for only 178 yards and one touchdown against Louisville, but has not thrown an interception in his last two games. Running back Giovani Bernard has also been impressive, rushing for at least 100 yards in each of his last four games. If the Tar Heels keep winning, will interim coach Everett Withers get the full-time job?
6. Florida State (2-3) – After entering this season with aspirations of winning a national title, the Seminoles have to consider 2011 a major disappointment. Florida State has lost three straight, which includes Saturday’s 35-30 defeat to Wake Forest. The Seminoles have struggled with turnovers and penalties, while the rushing attack has been invisible most of the year. Winning the ACC Atlantic is probably out of reach, but Florida State can still win out and finish with a solid 9-3 record.
7. Miami (2-3) – The Hurricanes played well, but dropped a 38-35 decision to Virginia Tech in Week 6. Miami quarterback Jacory Harris has struggled with interceptions throughout his career, but has not thrown a pick in his last two games. Running back Lamar Miller has been one of the top offensive players in the ACC so far this year, rushing for 677 yards and five scores. With a struggling defense, Miami needs Harris and Miller to carry the team right now. The Hurricanes hit the road for a matchup against North Carolina this Saturday.
8. Maryland (2-3) – After the 32-24 victory over Miami in the season opener, the Terrapins looked like a contender in the ACC Atlantic. Fast forward to Week 7 and it looks like Maryland is going to struggle just to get bowl eligible. Saturday’s 21-16 loss to Georgia Tech was the third defeat in four games for the Terrapins and it won’t get any easier this week. Maryland hosts Clemson and travels to Florida State next Saturday. Another alarming issue for the Terrapins is the play of quarterback Danny O’Brien. The sophomore completed only 1 of 6 throws for 17 yards and one interception against Georgia Tech and could lose time to backup C.J. Brown this week.
9. Duke (3-2) – The Blue Devils had a bye in Week 6 and return to action this Saturday against Florida State. Duke has never defeated the Seminoles, losing all 16 matchups between these two teams. Making matters worse for the Blue Devils is they have struggled just to be competitive against Florida State. Adding a glimmer of hope for Saturday’s game is the fact Duke is riding a three-game winning streak, while the Seminoles have lost three in a row.
10. NC State (3-3) – Saturday’s 38-24 win over Central Michigan was NC State’s first victory over a FBS team this season. Quarterback Mike Glennon posted a solid performance against the Chippewas, throwing for 244 yards and four touchdowns. NC State needs to get to seven victories to get bowl eligible, which is no sure thing considering the upcoming slate – at Virginia, at Florida State, North Carolina, at Boston College, Clemson and Maryland.
11. Virginia (3-2) – The Cavaliers had a bye in Week 6 and return to action on Saturday against Georgia Tech. Virginia has lost its last two in this series, including a 33-21 defeat last season in Atlanta. The Cavaliers have a realistic shot to get bowl eligible, but they may need an upset or two along the way.
12. Boston College (1-5) – The miserable 2011 season in Chestnut Hill continued on Saturday with a 36-14 loss to Clemson. The Eagles got more bad news off the field this week, as running back Montel Harris and defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey are done for the year due to injuries. Boston College is expected to pursue a medical redshirt for both players. The Eagles have a much-needed bye this week, before returning to action on Oct. 22 at Virginia Tech.