There were some slight changes from last week, but the ACC stayed status quo at the top, where Florida State and Virginia Tech are the teams to beat in their respective divisions. The lone surprise from Week 7 was NC State's loss to East Carolina, and that was reflected in the rankings. Here's how the ACC stacks up heading into Week 8:
1. Florida State (6-1, 4-0 ACC; LW: No. 1) – It wasn’t pretty, but the Seminoles won, and that’s what counts. Florida State probably wouldn’t have won that game a year ago. This year, they had the defense to make the stops in the red zone and Florida State became the ACC’s first bowl-eligible team of the season.
2. Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-0 ACC; LW: No. 2) – It was a breakout game for the offense, which racked up 605 total yards and scored 49 points in the first half. The Hokies are the only team in the Coastal Division that remains undefeated in conference play.
3. Miami (4-2, 2-1 ACC; LW: No. 4) – The Hurricanes let Duke hang around as usual, but they got the win they needed and are still capable of winning the ACC. The defense forced the Blue Devils into seven turnovers, and quarterback Jacory Harris had an interception-free game. It’s a winning formula.
4. Georgia Tech (5-2, 3-1 ACC; LW: No. 5) – The defense was a bright spot, as it forced Middle Tennessee into six turnovers and a scoreless third quarter. A missed field goal, a lost fumble and dropped passes against unheralded competition are the kinds of mistakes that will keep the Jackets from repeating as ACC champs, though.
5. North Carolina (4-2, 2-1 ACC; LW: No. 7) – The Tar Heels won in Charlottesville for the first time since 1981 and continue to block out any distractions from the NCAA investigation. There has been a different star every night for UNC, and this weekend was receiver Dwight Jones’ turn in the spotlight. A group effort has compensated for the lack of projected preseason starters.
6. NC State (5-2, 2-1 ACC; LW: No. 3) – The Wolfpack was outplayed on both sides of the ball in the loss at East Carolina, and it took some of the luster out of NC State’s otherwise impressive season. The Pirates tried several times to give the Pack the game, but NC State couldn’t stop Dominique Davis and made costly turnovers of its own.
7. Clemson (3-3, 1-2 ACC; LW: No. 8) – The Tigers stopped their three-game losing streak with a win against Maryland, and in the process, defensive end Da’Quan Bowers continued to build a case as a front-runner for the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year. The overall defensive improvement will be measured this week, though, when the Tigers face Georgia Tech in a matchup of last year’s division winners.
8. Maryland (4-2, 1-1 ACC; LW: No. 6) – The Terps have yet to beat an opponent with clout. Still, Maryland has an opportunity to get back on track in the Atlantic Division race this weekend with its road trip against a struggling Boston College team.
9. Wake Forest (2-5, 1-3 ACC; LW: No. 9) – The Deacs are young, they’re banged up, their freshman quarterback was overwhelmed in Lane Stadium, and they’re just not very good this year. They’ve got one thing, though, that the following teams do not: a conference win.
10. Boston College (2-4, 0-3 ACC; LW: No. 11) – What separates the Eagles from the rest of the cellar dwellers is their defense. It’s good enough to win, and proved it on Saturday against Florida State. It hasn’t mattered, though, as BC is in the midst of a four-game losing streak. The good news for the Eagles is they’ll have home-field advantage the next two weeks.
11. Virginia (2-4, 0-3 ACC; LW: No. 10) – Maybe next year. The 44-10 loss to North Carolina all but sunk the Cavaliers’ chances of being a contender for anything – including bowl eligibility – in Mike London’s first season. Virginia had five turnovers and was just 2-of-6 inside the red zone.
12. Duke (1-5, 0-3 ACC; LW: No. 12) – The same can be said for a lot of ACC teams this past weekend, but if Duke would just eliminate – or even cut in half – its turnovers, it would give itself a fighting chance. Quarterback Sean Renfree has thrown at least three interceptions in three of five games. The Blue Devils had seven turnovers against Miami.