ACC power rankings: Week 5

September, 24, 2012
9/24/12
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What a great showing by Florida State and Clemson in Tallahassee on Saturday night. The Atlantic Division remains the stronger of the two, and the Coastal is pure confusion right now. The only thing we know for sure after Week 4 is that Florida State is once again the team to beat in the ACC. The top is the same. The bottom is the same. The middle? Good luck trying to figure out that mess. Here’s a shot at it:

1. Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC; LW: No. 1) -- Quarterback EJ Manuel threw for more than 300 yards and ran for more than 100 yards, putting himself in the Heisman race and his team in contention for a national title. This group showed a maturity and focus it lacked in the past and was able to come from behind to beat Clemson 49-37 for the lead in the Atlantic Division standings.

2. Clemson (3-1, 0-1; LW: No. 2) -- The defending ACC champs lost control of their own destiny and now need Florida State to lose twice in order to get back into the Atlantic Division race. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris called a heckuva game, but FSU’s defense got better pressure on quarterback Tajh Boyd in the second half.

3. Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0; LW: No. 4) -- After an embarrassing Week 3 performance against Pitt, the Hokies did what they always do and rebounded the following Saturday. Bud Foster’s defense clamped down and shut out Bowling Green 37-0. Now Virginia Tech needs to avoid another loss to a Big East team as it travels to Landover, Md., to face Cincinnati in FedEx Field.

4. Miami (3-1, 2-0; LW: No. 9) -- Not even coach Al Golden knows what to expect with such a young team, but one thing was clear in the road win over Georgia Tech -- his players believe in him and want to win for him. Don’t look now, but the baby Canes have a chance to win the division. How about a Miami-FSU title game?

5. NC State (3-1, 0-0; LW: No. 5) -- The Wolfpack made sure there was no sense of a letdown in their 52-14 win against The Citadel. The Pack will travel to Miami on Saturday for their first ACC game and they have won three straight.

6. Wake Forest (3-1, 1-1; LW: No. 6) -- The Deacs got into a shootout with Army, but they also got their ground game going in the 49-37 win. The next task will be to hold off a hungry Duke team trying to snap a 12-game losing streak against Wake Forest. The Deacs will need to find some defense this week.

7. North Carolina (2-2, 0-1; LW: No. 7) -- The Tar Heels avoided a second loss to an in-state opponent and the defense led the way in a 27-6 win over East Carolina. Gio Bernard made his comeback from a knee injury with two touchdowns.

8. Georgia Tech (2-2, 1-2; LW: No. 3) -- This was a bad, bad loss for coach Paul Johnson. At home, no less. With two losses to Coastal Division opponents, the Jackets are going to need some major help getting back in the ACC race. They’ll also need some fourth-quarter defense.

9. Duke (3-1, 0-0; LW: No. 10) -- The Blue Devils haven’t even played a league game yet, so you can’t count them out of the Coastal Division race, either. So far they’re on track to get to a bowl game, but they’re going to have to show they can win in their conference, too.

10. Virginia (2-2, 0-1; LW: No. 8) -- The Cavaliers couldn’t pull off the upset on the road to TCU, and now they could have a quarterback controversy between Phillip Sims and Michael Rocco. Rocco threw two interceptions and no touchdowns and the Hoos had four turnovers.

11. Maryland (2-2, 0-0; LW: No. 11) -- The Terps’ defense deserves more credit than it has received, and Maryland gave a gritty effort against West Virginia. It wasn’t enough for the upset, but Maryland hasn’t even begun conference play yet. The season is just beginning in College Park and the Terps have a bye week to get ready for Wake Forest.

12. Boston College (1-2, 0-1; LW: No. 12) -- The Eagles had a bye week, but the situation still looks grim for coach Frank Spaziani. They’ll either get Clemson’s best shot this weekend, or they’ll catch the Tigers when they’re down.

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ACC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
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