By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 12 ACC Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Virginia Tech (10-1) – The Hokies had to withstand a late rally by North Carolina, but held on for a 24-21 victory on Thursday night. Quarterback Logan Thomas continues to make progress in his first season as the starter, throwing for 195 yards and two scores, while adding 32 yards and a touchdown on the ground. His development has been crucial for Virginia Tech and its chances of winning the ACC title game on Dec. 3. However, there’s one more hurdle to cross. The Hokies have to play in-state rival Virginia for the division crown. Virginia Tech has claimed the last seven games in this series, but winning in Charlottesville against a much-improved Virginia team won’t be easy.
2. Clemson (9-2) – Thanks to losses in two out of their last three games, the Tigers have slipped from the top spot in the ACC power rankings. Even though Clemson has a victory over Virginia Tech, its 37-13 loss to NC State is enough to drop it to the No. 2 spot. The Tigers had their worst offensive showing of the year against the Wolfpack, recording a season-low 13 points and only 337 total yards. Receiver Sammy Watkins was sidelined with a shoulder injury, but Clemson never got its rushing game on track, and quarterback Tajh Boyd tossed two picks. After throwing only three interceptions in his first eight games, Boyd has tossed six in his last three contests. The Tigers look to finish the regular season on a high note, taking on rival South Carolina this Saturday in Columbia.
3. Virginia (8-3) – The Cavaliers rise to No. 3 in the power rankings, thanks to their 14-13 upset victory over Florida State. The win also kept alive Virginia’s ACC Coastal title hopes, which will be decided this Saturday against Virginia Tech. Coach Mike London has done a terrific job in just two seasons, and it’s not like Virginia is beating a bunch of weak teams. The Cavaliers have wins over Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami this season. London should be the ACC’s Coach of the Year, regardless of the outcome on Saturday.
4. Georgia Tech (8-3) – The Yellow Jackets finished conference play with a 38-31 victory over Duke. Quarterback Tevin Washington led the Georgia Tech offense against the Blue Devils, throwing for 185 yards and adding 136 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Considering most expected the Yellow Jackets to only get six or seven wins this season, a chance at a 9-3 record is a solid season for coach Paul Johnson. Georgia Tech gets a shot at rival Georgia this Saturday. The Yellow Jackets have only win over the Bulldogs in the last 10 meetings.
5. Florida State (7-4) – A disappointing season in Tallahassee continued with a 14-13 defeat to Virginia on Saturday night. The Seminoles began the year with national title hopes, but will finish with a 5-3 ACC record. Florida State won’t be able to match last season’s 10 victories, but if it beats Florida on Saturday and wins the bowl game, it will have at least nine wins in three out of the past four seasons. There is plenty of talent coming back in 2012, but can the Seminoles put everything together and make a run at the national title? Much of the title hopes next season rest with improving the offensive line and rushing attack.
6. Miami (6-5) – Saturday’s 6-3 win over South Florida certainly wasn’t pretty, but the victory assures the Hurricanes of at least a .500 season. However, the news wasn’t all positive over the weekend for Miami. Due to the pending NCAA investigation surrounding the program, the Hurricanes won’t play in a bowl game this season, which means their final game of 2011 will be on Saturday against Boston College. There’s also a lot of uncertainty surrounding coach Al Golden for 2012. Although he has stated he is happy at Miami, the pending NCAA investigation and an opening at his alma mater (Penn State), could be enough for him to leave after one season.
7. North Carolina (6-5) – A late rally wasn’t enough for the Tar Heels to score an upset victory over Virginia Tech last Thursday night. North Carolina’s 24-21 loss to the Hokies dropped its record to 6-5 with one regular season game to go. The Tar Heels host Duke this Saturday, a series they have dominated with seven wins in a row. Although Miami has decided not to play in a bowl this season, there have been no indications North Carolina plans to do the same. The Tar Heels are still waiting to hear from the NCAA on penalties from an investigation surrounding the program and former assistant coach John Blake. With the Hurricanes bowing out of the postseason, North Carolina will likely play in the Independence or Military Bowl.
8. Wake Forest (6-5) – After last season’s 3-9 record, getting to a bowl game is quite a turnaround for the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest earned its sixth victory of 2011 with a convincing 31-10 victory over Maryland on Saturday. Quarterback Tanner Price carved up the Terrapins’ secondary for 320 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Brandon Pendergrass rushed for 125 yards and one score on 26 attempts. Wake Forest closes out the regular season with a home date against Vanderbilt this Saturday.
9. NC State (6-5) – The roller coaster ride that has been the 2011 season for Wolfpack fans continued with a surprising 37-13 victory over Clemson. NC State’s defense held the Tigers to a season-low of 13 points, while picking off quarterback Tajh Boyd twice. The Wolfpack offense was able to control the clock and keep Clemson’s high-powered attack on the sideline, while also getting a solid performance from quarterback Mike Glennon – 19 of 29 for 253 yards and three scores. NC State needs one more win to get bowl eligible and has a favorable matchup against Maryland this Saturday.
10. Duke (3-8) – The Blue Devils gave Georgia Tech all it could handle, but the upset bid fell just short. Duke’s 38-31 loss to the Yellow Jackets was its fourth defeat by a touchdown or less this season. Quarterback Sean Renfree's play has been up and down this year, but tossed a season-high four touchdowns against Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils close out the 2011 season against North Carolina this Saturday. Duke has lost the last seven matchups in this series.
11. Boston College (3-8) – One of the ACC’s most surprising performances from Week 12 occurred in a loss. The Eagles were big underdogs, but lost only 16-14 to Notre Dame. The defense gave up 417 yards to the Irish, but allowed only one touchdown. Boston College looks to close out its season on a high note, playing at Miami this Friday. Coach Frank Spaziani is on the hot seat, but the team has played better over the last four weeks, which might be enough to keep him around for 2012.
12. Maryland (2-9) – The Terrapins remain at the bottom of the power rankings, thanks to a 31-10 defeat to Wake Forest. Quarterback C.J. Brown threw for 186 yards and a score, along with adding 110 yards on the ground. While his dual-threat ability has helped to provide a spark for the offense at times, the Terrapins need more big plays from the passing game. Unless Maryland knocks off NC State this Saturday, it will finish with a 2-10 record – its worst since finishing with that mark in 2009. Coach Randy Edsall was brought in to elevate the program, but it looks like a slow climb back to contention in the ACC.