By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 8 ACC Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Clemson (8-0) – The Tigers remained unbeaten with a 59-38 win over North Carolina on Saturday. Clemson’s offense had limited success on the ground against the Tar Heels, due to an injury to running back Andre Ellington. Although Ellington was missed, he really wasn’t needed, as quarterback Tajh Boyd (367 yards, five scores) and receiver Sammy Watkins (8 rec., 91 yards and one touchdown) carried the day for the Clemson offense. Although doubts remain about the Tigers’ defense, it’s going to be very difficult for any of the remaining opponents on Clemson’s schedule to stop its offense. The Tigers travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech this Saturday.
2. Virginia Tech (7-1) – Since posting a lackluster performance against Clemson on Oct. 1, the Hokies have shown signs of life on offense, posting three consecutive games of at least 30 points. Quarterback Logan Thomas appears to be a much-improved player over the last few weeks, throwing six touchdowns and no interceptions in Virginia Tech’s last three games. The Hokies defeated Boston College 30-14 on Saturday, and assumed control of the ACC Coastal with Georgia Tech’s loss to Miami. Virginia Tech plays at Duke this Saturday.
3. Miami (4-3) – The Hurricanes are just above .500, but a look at their resume shows this is a solid team. Miami lost by eight in the opener to Maryland, four to undefeated Kansas State and a narrow three-point defeat to Virginia Tech two weeks ago. The Hurricanes seem to be finding their stride under first-year coach Al Golden, particularly after Saturday’s 24-7 win over Georgia Tech. In the victory, the defense held the Yellow Jackets to 134 rushing yards, while preventing any big plays by quarterback Tevin Washington and receiver Stephen Hill. Miami still has a chance to win the ACC Coastal, but it needs a little help in the form of a Virginia Tech loss. The Hurricanes host Virginia on Thursday night this week.
4. Georgia Tech (6-2) – After a 6-0 start, it looked like Georgia Tech was going to cruise to an ACC Coastal title. Not anymore. The Yellow Jackets have dropped back-to-back games, and their offense has started to sputter the last few weeks. After scoring at least 35 points in the first five games of the year, Georgia Tech has not managed more than 21 in its last three games. The Yellow Jackets will always rely on the run, but the passing attack has to hit a few plays to help take some of the pressure off the rushing game. Can Georgia Tech get back on track this Saturday? It won’t be easy with Clemson coming to Atlanta.
5. Wake Forest (5-2) – The Demon Deacons are probably the only team that has a shot to knock off Clemson from the top spot in the Atlantic, and they kept pace with the Tigers with a 24-23 win over Duke on Saturday. Wake Forest hits the road for a key trip to North Carolina this week. The offense has been without running back Josh Harris due to a hamstring injury the last two weeks, but is expected to return to the lineup. A win over the Tar Heels would give Wake Forest the North Carolina ACC championship, as it already has wins over Duke and NC State.
6. Florida State (4-3) – The Seminoles are going to fall short of lofty preseason expectations, but there’s still plenty to play for. Florida State has won back-to-back games (both by the score of 41-16), and if it wins out, can finish with a 9-3 record. In Saturday’s win over Maryland, running back Devonta Freeman breathed some life into the rushing attack, posting 100 yards and one score. Quarterback EJ Manuel has been solid in his return from a shoulder injury, throwing five touchdowns over his last three games. The Seminoles host NC State this Saturday.
7. North Carolina (5-3) – The Tar Heels hope to snap a two-game losing streak this Saturday, as they host in-state rival Wake Forest. North Carolina has started to slide in the power rankings over the last two weeks, and there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding this team going forward. Interim coach Everett Withers’ future with the program is up in the air and will largely be determined over the next few weeks. After Saturday’s game against Wake Forest, the Tar Heels have back-to-back road games against NC State and Virginia Tech.
8. NC State (4-3) – After a disappointing 2-3 start, the Wolfpack has righted the ship the last few weeks. NC State has posted back-to-back wins, including Saturday’s 28-14 victory over Virginia. Quarterback Mike Glennon was a question mark entering this season, but has proven to be more than adequate, throwing for 19 touchdowns and six interceptions. Injuries have factored heavily into NC State’s record, but it still has a shot to get bowl eligible with five games remaining. The Wolfpack play at Florida State this Saturday.
9. Virginia (4-3) – The Cavaliers were unable to build off the 24-21 upset win over Georgia Tech, losing 28-14 to NC State on Saturday. Virginia has yet to settle on a quarterback this year, and coach Mike London can’t be pleased with his passing attack after watching David Watford and Michael Rocco combine for 11 of 35 for 125 passing yards and three interceptions on Saturday. The Cavaliers travel to Miami to take on the Hurricanes on Thursday night.
10. Maryland (2-5) – Are the Terrapins back to square one with their quarterback situation? In Saturday’s 41-16 loss to Florida State, starter C.J. Brown was knocked out of the game and replaced by former No. 1 passer Danny O’Brien. Brown completed 11 of 19 throws for only 92 yards, while O’Brien threw for 180 yards on nine completions. Coach Randy Edsall has indicated the starter for Saturday’s game against Boston College would be a gametime decision. The Terrapins are a longshot to get bowl eligible, but if they have any hope, beating the Eagles on Saturday is a must.
11. Duke (3-4) – Although the Blue Devils fell short in their bid to beat Wake Forest, they deserve credit for rallying from a 17-3 deficit at halftime. Duke had a chance to drive for the winning score late, but quarterback Sean Renfree’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete with just over a minute to go. The Blue Devils have lost two in a row, putting their bowl hopes on life support with five games remaining. Duke hosts Virginia Tech this Saturday, before hitting the road to play at Miami on Nov. 5.
12. Boston College (1-6) – Coach Frank Spaziani hoped the bye week would help find some answers for his team. Unfortunately for Spaziani and the Eagles, the outcome wasn’t much better than the previous weeks, as Boston College remained winless in conference play with a 30-14 defeat to Virginia Tech. With five games remaining, it’s going to be very difficult for the Eagles to get bowl eligible – especially with a schedule that features games against Florida State, Notre Dame and Miami in November. Barring an upset, Boston College could be looking at a 1-11 record at the end of the year.