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ACC Power Rankings: Week 4

9/19/2011

As we head into Week 4, one big question looms: North Carolina or Georgia Tech? In this week’s bowl projections, I gave the nod to UNC only because the Tar Heels earned their first conference win in the Coastal Division, but this debate will be settled on the field this weekend when the two teams meet. There were a few other tweaks this week, including at the bottom, where Duke leapfrogged BC with its narrow win this past weekend. Here’s a look at your ACC power rankings heading into Week 4:

1. Florida State (2-1, 0-0 ACC; Last Week No. 1): The Seminoles put together a much more respectable performance against Oklahoma than they did a year ago, despite Saturday’s 23-13 loss. Florida State almost beat the No. 1 team in the nation with its backup quarterback and took some positives out of that game heading into this weekend’s key Atlantic Division matchup at Clemson.

2. Virginia Tech (3-0, 0-0; LW: No. 2): This team hasn’t looked as good as its record might indicate, and this position could be more of a rental property than a permanent residence. The Hokies continue to take care of business, though, and the defense has looked outstanding in all three games. Saturday’s game at Marshall is the last chance to iron out any lingering concerns before Clemson comes to town to start ACC play.

3. Clemson (3-0, 0-0; LW: No. 6): The Tigers got a boost in the rankings this week thanks to an impressive 38-24 win over defending national champion and No. 21-ranked Auburn. They’re off to a 3-0 start and have knocked off one of a string of three ranked opponents. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has looked better every week, and it should be a great matchup against the FSU D on Saturday.

4. North Carolina (3-0, 1-0 ACC; LW No. 5): The Tar Heels get bumped up for correcting their mistakes from Week 2 to Week 3, and beating Virginia for their first Coastal Division win. UNC cut down on both turnovers and penalties, and is off to a 3-0 start under coach Everett Withers heading into the showdown with the Yellow Jackets.

5. Georgia Tech (3-0, 0-0; LW: No. 3): Georgia Tech didn’t get penalized this week for winning, rather other teams were rewarded for beating better competition. The Yellow Jackets might be the best team in the Coastal Division, but so far they’ve rolled over inferior opponents. Can they maintain that success against the UNC D?

6. Miami (1-1, 0-1; LW: No. 7): I’m usually a big proponent of head-to-head results being reflected in the ranking, but Miami earned some bonus points for beating a ranked Ohio State team on Saturday while the Terps came up short against West Virginia. If the Canes continue to play solid defense and run the ball like they did against the Buckeyes, they could still be a factor in the ACC race.

7. Maryland (1-1, 1-0; LW: No. 4): The Terps had a chance to make a statement and continue the success of their win over Miami, but couldn’t get it done against West Virginia. The Terps couldn’t stop quarterback Geno Smith, and three turnovers and seven penalties didn’t help.

8. Wake Forest (2-1, 1-0; LW: No. 8): The Demon Deacons remain status quo after their convincing 48-5 win over Gardner-Webb, and they could further improve their stock and bowl hopes with a road win over a downtrodden Boston College team this weekend. Quarterback Tanner Price has had the passing game clicking and should be another challenge for the Eagles’ defense.

9. NC State (2-1, 0-1; LW: No. 9): Injuries to the defense continue to pile up, but NC State rebounded from its loss to Wake Forest with a win over South Alabama. This week’s game at Cincinnati will present a bigger challenge, though, and could reveal more about the Wolfpack’s bowl hopes this season.

10. Virginia (2-1, 0-1; LW: No. 10: The Cavaliers went 1-1 in their back-to-back road trips, losing the more important game to UNC to start behind in the Coastal Division standings. The Hoos moved the ball, but they also squandered opportunities and couldn’t stop the Tar Heels’ running game. UVA fans should expect a win this weekend, though, against Southern Miss.

11. Duke (1-2, 1-0, LW: No. 12): We’re not talking bowl game again for these guys until they win a few more games, but the win over BC at least got the Blue Devils off to a good start in the ACC standings.

12. Boston College (0-3, 0-1; LW: No. 11): The Eagles are off to their worst start since 1991, when they finished 4-7 under Tom Coughlin. No, the season isn’t over yet, but it feels as if BC’s ship has already sunk.