- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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For all of the chaos that goes on in a season, Florida State and Clemson have maintained their spots at the top through the first two months of the season. The last, of course, is the most important. As we head into November, here's how the ACC stacks up:
1. Florida State (8-1, 5-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) –The Noles cruised past Coastal Division leader Duke 48-7, but the continued fumbles are a reason for concern. FSU fumbled four times Saturday and six times the previous week against Miami. Still, FSU has won three straight since its loss to NC State and remains the team to beat in the ACC.
2. Clemson (7-1, 4-1; LW: No. 2) – The Tigers had a record-setting day in the 42-13 win over Wake Forest on Thursday night. Receiver Sammy Watkins had a breakout game, quarterback Tajh Boyd further boosted his Heisman résumé, and the defense took yet another step forward.
3. North Carolina (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 5) – Running back Giovani Bernard had a performance good enough to catapult him into the Heisman discussion if anyone was paying attention. Bernard and Co. ended a streak of five straight losses to rival NC State with his 74-yard punt return for a touchdown with 13 seconds remaining.
4. Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2; LW: No. 7) – The Hokies had a much-needed bye week, as they enter the Miami game having lost three of their past four games. Virginia Tech’s defense has played its best football in the past two games against Duke and Clemson, despite the loss to the Tigers. They’ll need more from the offense, though, to win the division.
5. Duke (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 4) – Not much went right for the Blue Devils in the loss to FSU, but they’re still right where they want to be -- relevant in the ACC race. Quarterback Sean Renfree was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a head injury. It won’t get any easier this week against Clemson.
6. Miami (4-4, 3-2; LW: No. 6) – The Canes had the bye week to prepare for the critical Coastal Division game against Virginia Tech on Thursday night. They needed the break, as the team has lost three straight, had off-field distractions, and been banged up. Running back Eduardo Clements suffered a season-ending injury, according to the Miami Herald.
7. NC State (5-3, 2-2; LW: No. 3) – Quarterback Mike Glennon threw for a career-high 467 yards and five touchdowns -- and still lost. NC State lost control of its destiny in the Atlantic Division race because it now has two league losses while FSU and Clemson have only one.
8. Maryland (4-4, 2-2; LW: No. 8) – The Terps came up short on the road in the final minute of a 20-17 loss to Boston College. Considering Maryland was down to its fourth-string quarterback, it’s remarkable it was winning the game in the fourth quarter with true freshman quarterback Caleb Rowe. Their bowl chances took a big hit, though, with the loss.
9. Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4; LW: No. 9) – The Deacs had no answer for Clemson on Thursday and couldn’t keep pace with the Tigers’ up-tempo offense. The Demon Deacons had minus-23 yards rushing in the first half. They've played two Top 25 teams and have been outscored 94-13 while allowing 1,146 total yards.
10. Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3; LW: No. 10) – The Yellow Jackets were beaten soundly in a 41-17 home loss to BYU. The defense allowed 411 total yards, and the offense was 0-for-10 on third-down conversions and held without an offensive touchdown for the first time since Dec. 31, 2008 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
11. Boston College (2-6, 1-4; LW: No. 12) – The Eagles are out of the gutter after their first ACC win of the season -- something the Hoos have yet to attain. BC quarterback Chase Rettig completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Coleman with 52 seconds left to give Boston College the 20-17 win over Maryland.
12. Virginia (2-6, 0-4; LW: No. 11) – The Hoos had a bye week to prepare for a trip to NC State, and have lost six straight games. There have been problems in all three phases of the game as UVa is looking to win its first ACC game of the season.
For all of the chaos that goes on in a season, Florida State and Clemson have maintained their spots at the top through the first two months of the season.