- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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It was a dismal week for the ACC, starting with the news that six Wake Forest players were suspended for the Maryland game and ending with the realization that the ACC’s chances at a national championship this season were lost with Florida State’s loss to NC State. So it goes in the ACC. Considering just how unpredictable the league is and how poorly the Coastal Division favorites have played so far, your guess is as good as mine as to how this whole thing will shake out in Charlotte. At this rate, we could have an in-state title game with NC State playing Duke for the championship. Seriously. This is the most bizarre power ranking in the history of this blog:
1. Florida State (5-1, 2-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) -- The Seminoles suffered a letdown, and NC State deserved to win that game, but FSU is still the best team in the ACC. Unless it lets the loss to the Pack beat it twice, Florida State should still win the division. In order for Clemson to have a shot, the Noles need to lose one more time and the Tigers need to win out. NC State needs to win out, but that’s a tall task with Clemson still on the schedule.
2. Clemson (5-1, 2-1 ACC; LW: No. 2) -- The Tigers avoided a scare from Georgia Tech and got another record-setting performance from quarterback Tajh Boyd. They’ve got a bye week to make more progress on defense before hosting Virginia Tech on Oct. 20.
3. Duke (5-1, 2-0; LW: No. 4) -- Duke’s defense is better than Miami’s. Its record is better than Virginia Tech’s. And it’s closer to bowl eligibility than Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils beat Virginia with their backup quarterback. They earned this spot.
4. Miami (4-2, 3-0; LW: No. 3) -- The Hurricanes fell flat on the road against Notre Dame, but are still undefeated in conference play. There are plenty of young playmakers on offense, but the defense will have to improve if the Canes are going to slow down North Carolina this weekend.
5. NC State (4-2, 1-1; LW: No. 6) -- This was a monumental win for coach Tom O’Brien, and should have promptly removed him from any hot-seat lists. Quarterback Mike Glennon was poised in the clutch and made plays on fourth downs, and the patchwork offensive line got the upper hand against FSU’s defense when it needed to most.
6. North Carolina (4-2, 1-1; LW: No. 8) -- The Tar Heels learned a little more about themselves in the win over Virginia Tech; namely, that they’re good enough to play the role of spoilers in the Coastal Division. It’s hard to believe this team’s lone league loss was to a struggling Wake Forest team. When healthy, running back Giovani Bernard looks unstoppable.
7. Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1; LW: No. 5) -- Bud Foster’s defense was gashed for 533 total yards, including 339 on the ground. The Hokies no longer own sole possession of first place in the division standings and should be more worried about qualifying for a bowl game than winning the division at this point.
8. Maryland (3-2, 1-0; LW: No. 11) -- The Terps have the No. 3 scoring defense in the ACC, and it’s not only keeping them in games this year, it’s winning them. Defense was the difference in Maryland’s win over Wake Forest, and it will have to be again this weekend against rival Virginia.
9. Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3; LW: No. 9) -- The Yellow Jackets gave a good effort, but in the end the defense couldn’t find an answer -- again. Georgia Tech has now lost three straight games and needs a miracle to get back in the division race.
10. Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3; LW: No. 7) -- The Deacs gave a great effort in College Park, but with six players suspended and the top offensive playmaker injured, it was an uphill battle from the start.
11. Virginia (2-4, 0-2; LW: No. 10) -- The Hoos have now lost four straight games, and quarterback Phillip Sims was not the answer in the loss to Duke. Virginia was held to five first downs after halftime and had two turnovers.
12. Boston College (1-4, 0-2; LW: No. 12) -- This is about the only spot in the ACC that is solidified, as Boston College likely hit rock bottom with its loss to a winless Army team. The Eagles have yet to beat an FBS team, have lost three straight, and would have to win five of their next seven games just to get to a bowl game.