By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 7 ACC Power Rankings
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1. Clemson (7-0) – The Tigers fell behind 35-17 to Maryland early in the second half, but rallied for a 56-45 victory to remain unbeaten. Clemson’s 56 points were a season-high, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd’s 270 passing yards and four scores. The Tigers also got a huge performance from running back Andre Ellington, who rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Clemson hosts North Carolina on Saturday, before facing a key conference road test at Georgia Tech on Oct. 29.
2. Virginia Tech (6-1) – After suffering a disappointing 23-3 loss to Clemson in Week 5, the Hokies have rallied with impressive back-to-back wins. Virginia Tech defeated Miami 38-35 in Week 6, before knocking off Wake Forest 38-17 in Winston-Salem on Saturday. Quarterback Logan Thomas has been a key reason for success over the last two weeks, as the sophomore has totaled nine touchdowns, thrown for 590 yards and tossed zero interceptions during that span. The Hokies host Boston College this Saturday.
3. Georgia Tech (6-1) – The Yellow Jackets suffered their first loss of the season, dropping a 24-21 game to Virginia on Saturday. After scoring at least 35 points in each of their first five games, Georgia Tech has not managed more than 21 in its last two. Quarterback Tevin Washington rushed for over 100 yards against the Cavaliers, but completed only 2 of 8 passes. The Yellow Jackets head to Miami for a key ACC Coastal game this Saturday.
4. Miami (3-3) – Behind the steady play of quarterback Jacory Harris, the Hurricanes jumped out to a 27-3 lead against North Carolina, but had to hold off a furious second-half rally for a 30-24 win. The victory over the Tar Heels gets Miami back to .500 with six games remaining. It’s too early to count the Hurricanes out of the Coastal race, especially with a game against Georgia Tech this Saturday. Miami needs help in the form of a loss by Virginia Tech, but the Coastal title is still up for grabs.
5. Wake Forest (4-2) – One week after jumping into the ACC title conversation with a win over Florida State, the Demon Deacons were unable to capitalize off that momentum and lost 38-17 to Virginia Tech. Impacting the offense on Saturday was the absence of running back Josh Harris, who missed the game due to a hamstring injury. Wake Forest has back-to-back road trips the next two weeks, as it heads to Duke and North Carolina in the battle for bragging rights in North Carolina.
6. Florida State (3-3) – The Seminoles snapped a three-game losing streak with a 41-16 demolishing of Duke on Saturday. Although Florida State’s chances of winning the ACC Atlantic are slim, it’s important for this team to finish out 2011 on a high note. Quarterback EJ Manuel continues to round back into form after a shoulder injury against Oklahoma, throwing for 239 yards and two scores against Duke. The Seminoles host Maryland this Saturday.
7. North Carolina (5-2) – The Tar Heels two-game winning streak was snapped with a 30-24 loss to Miami. North Carolina fell behind 27-3 in the first half, but rallied to within six and recovered an onside kick with less than a minute remaining. The Tar Heels fell short of reaching the endzone on the final drive, but it was a solid comeback for a team that looked out of sync in the first half. North Carolina has a difficult four-game stretch up next, as they travel to Clemson this Saturday, before a home game against Wake Forest and back on the road at NC State and Virginia Tech. Could interim coach Everett Withers’ shot at the full-time job rest on the next four weeks?
8. Virginia (4-2) – The Cavaliers scored a huge upset in Week 7, knocking Georgia Tech from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 24-21 win. Having a bye in Week 6 certainly helped the Cavaliers prepare for the Yellow Jackets’ option attack. With six games to go, Virginia is two wins away from reaching bowl eligibility. The Cavaliers host NC State this Saturday, in a contest that both teams really need in order to get to six victories.
9. Maryland (2-4) – Looking for a way to spark the offense, coach Randy Edsall turned to backup quarterback C.J. Brown. The results were positive, but Maryland lost 56-45 to drop to 2-4 on the year. The sophomore completed 17 of 35 passes for 177 yards and three scores, but gashed Clemson for 162 yards and one touchdown on the ground. The Terrapins’ defense has battled some injuries, including one to linebacker Kenny Tate, but ranks 104th nationally by allowing 435.3 yards a game. Maryland hopes to snap a two-game losing streak with a trip to Florida State this Saturday.
10. NC State (3-3) – With a long injury report, the bye week came at a good time for the Wolfpack. NC State needs four more wins in order to get to a bowl game, as only one victory over a FCS foe will count towards postseason eligibility. The upcoming schedule is difficult, but there are opportunities for victories. Saturday’s game against Virginia is a must-win for either team, as both are locked into a tight battle in order to get to six victories.
11. Duke (3-3) – The Blue Devils had their three-game winning streak snapped on Saturday, as they lost 41-16 to Florida State. Duke has struggled to be competitive in its matchups against the Seminoles, so Saturday’s result was no surprise. The focus for the rest of the year in Durham has to be on getting bowl eligible. Saturday’s game against Wake Forest is a must-win if the Blue Devils want to get to six wins. And even with a win over the Demon Deacons, Duke still has a difficult road to find two more victories on the schedule.
12. Boston College (1-5) – The Eagles did not play in Week 7 and will return to action this Saturday at Virginia Tech. Boston College is riding a two-game losing streak and its only win this year came against FCS foe Massachusetts. Barring a major turnaround, the Eagles won’t go bowling this year. The schedule is very difficult – at Virginia Tech, at Maryland, Florida State, NC State, at Notre Dame and at Miami. Also, the offense ranks as the worst in the ACC in scoring, while the defense is 95th nationally in points allowed.