- Heather Dinich, College Football Reporter
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The regular season is over, and there are only two teams who still have a chance to make a statement this week, as Clemson and Virginia Tech will face each other in Saturday's ACC championship game. Clemson had the upper hand earlier this season in a 23-3 win over the Hokies, but much has changed since then. Including who is No. 1 ...
1. Virginia Tech (11-1, 7-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) – With their convincing win over rival Virginia on Saturday, the Hokies clinched the Coastal Division title and they also earned 11 wins during the regular season for only the second time in school history. The Hokies are ranked No. 5 in the latest BCS standings heading into the championship game, and they’ve come a long way since their 23-3 loss to Clemson during the regular season.
2. Clemson (9-3, 6-2 ACC; LW: No. 2) – The Tigers dropped to No. 20 in the BCS standings following their third straight loss to rival South Carolina this past weekend. Clemson has faltered down the stretch, losing three of their final four games, but this is the second time in three years the Tigers have won the Atlantic Division.
3. Virginia (8-4, 5-3 ACC; LW: No. 3) – The Cavaliers were outplayed in every phase of the game against Virginia Tech, but this season should still be considered a success under coach Mike London. The Hoos are bowl bound for the first time since 2007, and they beat both Florida State and Miami during a four-game winning streak.
4. Florida State (8-4, 5-3 ACC; LW: No. 4) – Does this eight-win season feel more like a six-win season to anyone else? The Noles have been flat offensively in recent weeks, and they lost the games that mattered most this season. FSU is likely bound for Champs Sports Bowl, but will the Noles remember to take their offense with them?
5. Georgia Tech (8-4, 5-3 ACC; LW: No. 5) – The 6-0 start to this season was too good to be true, as Georgia Tech went 1-2 against Clemson, Virginia Tech and Georgia. Georgia’s defense smothered the Jackets, who were held to 79 rushing yards in the second half. Quarterback Tevin Washington threw two interceptions and linebacker Julian Burnett said the team is “tired of being the little brothers in the state.”
6. Wake Forest (6-6, 5-3 ACC; LW: No. 6) – The Deacs played like they had their bowl eligibility all wrapped up, and Vanderbilt played like it was their Super Bowl in a 41-7 win. The Commodores became bowl eligible for the first time since 2008, and the Deacs allowed 481 yards of total offense.
7. NC State (7-5, 4-4 ACC; LW: No. 7) – Unbelievable. NC state was trailing 41-14 with six minutes left in the third quarter and came back to beat Maryland 56-41. It was the second-biggest comeback in ACC history, and the Wolfpack became bowl eligible with the win. It was a remarkable way to finish the season.
8. Miami (6-6, 3-5 ACC; LW: No. 8) – Ugh. The senior class closed its chapter with a home loss to a woeful Boston College team, and quarterback Jacory Harris threw a forgettable four picks. It was a disappointing finish for the recruiting class of 2008, which never lived up to the hype it entered with, but a new contract extension for coach Al Golden assured fans recruiting will continue under his watch.
9. North Carolina (7-5, 3-5 ACC; LW: No. 9) – The Tar Heels continue to be a more physical team than rival Duke, and it showed up front on Saturday, as the offensive line paved the way for 508 total yards. UNC beat Duke for the eighth straight year and is one win away from matching its eight-win ceiling under former coach Butch Davis.
10. Boston College (4-8, 3-5 ACC; LW: No. 10) – It was an impressive effort in the win over Miami, and the Eagles deserve a lot of credit for winning three of their last five after starting the season 1-6. There is no bowl game, but there is some positive momentum to build off of heading into the offseason. The question is whether any staff or personnel changes will be made.
11. Duke (3-9, 1-7 ACC; LW: No. 11) – It’s an all-too-familiar storyline for the Blue Devils, who finished the season with seven straight losses. The defense remains a question heading into the offseason, and recruiting must improve if Duke is going to take the next step under coach David Cutcliffe.
12. Maryland (2-10, 1-7 ACC; LW: No. 12) – The Terps tanked under first-year coach Randy Edsall. From a nine-win season to a two-win season that was capped off by Saturday’s meltdown at NC State, it should be a relief to everyone that the season is over in College Park. Edsall is locked into a lucrative contract, but it will be interesting to see how much turnover there is on the roster and if any staff changes are made.
The regular season is over, and there are only two teams who still have a chance to make a statement this week, as Clemson and Virginia Tech will face each other in Saturday's ACC championship game.