- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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With only five games this week and all three ranked teams enjoying their bye weeks, there wasn’t a lot of shuffling in the conference race or in the power rankings. The biggest difference might have been NC State’s leapfrog of North Carolina. Until Wake Forest falls behind FSU in the conference standings, the Deacs stay ahead of the Noles because the head-to-head win is the one measurable separating them right now in the Atlantic Division race. This week’s game could have the biggest impact on the power rankings, but until then, here’s how they stack up:
1. Clemson (8-1, 5-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) – The Tigers have had a bye week to regroup after their loss at Georgia Tech, and have moved on to a critical game against Wake Forest. With only two more games remaining against league opponents, the Tigers can clinch the Atlantic Division title with a win against the Deacs.
2. Virginia Tech (8-1, 4-1 ACC; LW: No. 2) – Finally, it’s time to talk about the Thursday night showdown at Georgia Tech. Both teams had a bye week to prepare for each other, and both had dramatically different finishes in Week 9. The last time we saw the Hokies play, their offense floundered and was held scoreless in the second half against Duke. They’ll need more against the Jackets.
3. Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2 ACC; LW: No. 3) – The Jackets are coming off arguably their most complete performance of the season, and will be looking to build upon that in a critical Thursday night game against Virginia Tech. The Jackets have already lost a tiebreaker scenario to Virginia; They can’t afford a loss to the Hokies if they want to win the division title.
4. Wake Forest (5-4, 4-2 ACC; LW: No. 4) – The Deacs hold onto their spot after a respectable 24-17 loss to Notre Dame. Wake Forest put itself in position to win that game, and should have some confidence heading into Death Valley on Saturday. It’s going to be an uphill battle against Clemson, but stranger things have happened in the ACC.
5. Florida State (6-3, 4-2 ACC; LW: No. 5) – The Seminoles looked dominant once again, and easily handled BC, 38-7. With the win, FSU became bowl eligible for the 30th straight season, the nation’s longest active streak. The biggest challenge remaining on the schedule is this week against rival Miami.
6. NC State (5-4, 2-3 ACC; LW: No. 9) – The Wolfpack pulled a stunner, beating rival UNC for the fifth straight season. The defense played its best game of the season, and NC State is two wins away from bowl eligibility. The first step could -- and should -- happen this week at Boston College.
7. Virginia (6-3, 3-2 ACC; LW: No. 7) – The Hoos are bowl eligible for the first time since 2007, and they control their own destiny in the Coastal Division race. A win this weekend against Duke, though, might be easier said than done, considering the Blue Devils have won the past three games in the series.
8. Miami (5-4, 3-3 ACC; LW: No. 8) – The Canes got a boost from their win against Duke this weekend, and technically, they’re still in contention for the division title. All of their Coastal Division games have been played, but the Canes can’t afford any more conference losses. A road trip to Tallahassee looms this weekend, and Miami is still trying to put together complete performances in back-to-back games.
9. North Carolina (6-4, 2-4 ACC; LW: No. 6) – The Tar Heels took a significant dive after a dreadful offensive performance that included as many rushing yards (three) as turnovers. UNC has a bye week to prepare for a Thursday night road trip to Virginia Tech, and they look like they'll need every minute of it.
10. Duke (3-6, 1-4 ACC; LW: No. 10) – The Blue Devils were convinced last week that they were about to turn the corner after several close losses, but after a strong defensive performance against Virginia Tech, Duke had no answer for Miami. Duke now has to win out against UVa, Georgia Tech and UNC to get to a bowl game.
11. Boston College (2-7, 1-5 ACC; LW: No. 11) – The Eagles’ streak of 12 consecutive bowl games has come to an end, as it’s no longer mathematically possible for BC to reach the six-win mark after the 38-7 loss to Florida State. The Eagles will try to play the role of spoiler this weekend for NC State, which is two wins shy of bowl eligibility.
12. Maryland (2-7, 1-5 ACC; LW: No. 12) – Did you hear that? It was the thud of Maryland hitting rock bottom. After a 31-13 home loss to Virginia on senior day, a bowl is out of the question for the Terps, who needed to win every game this month to reach the postseason. It’s been hard to watch, and could get even uglier down the stretch.