- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Coastal Division race is as clear as mud, with Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech all still capable of winning the division title. Go ahead, rank those four teams on your own. See what you come up with. Good luck. Meanwhile, Florida State is in the driver's seat in the Atlantic Division. Here’s one version of the ACC power rankings for this week:
1. Florida State (9-1, 6-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) – The Seminoles came through in the clutch in a 28-22 win at Virginia Tech. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel orchestrated a last-minute scoring drive and the defense came up with a key interception on Logan Thomas’ final attempt at a comeback. All FSU needs to do is win at Maryland to clinch the Atlantic Division next week.
2. Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC; LW: No. 2) – There wasn’t much to be learned from Clemson’s 45-10 win over an injury-laden Maryland team. This game went as expected, with Maryland showing toughness, but not having nearly enough to hang with or stop Clemson’s talented offensive playmakers. The Tigers set a school record with their 12th straight home win.
3. Duke (6-4, 3-3; LW: No. 5) – The Blue Devils had this past Saturday off to prepare for their next opponent, Georgia Tech, but as North Carolina learned, it doesn’t always help. Duke’s defense has allowed at least 48 points in each of its past two losses to the ACC’s top two teams, FSU and Clemson. This will be Duke’s biggest game since 1994, as the program can win the Coastal Division with wins at Georgia Tech and against Miami.
4. Miami (5-5, 4-3; LW: No. 3) – The Hurricanes almost won on the road without three of their defensive starters, but they couldn’t stop UVa quarterback Michael Rocco on the final drive. Miami has one ACC game remaining -- at Duke -- but the Hurricanes could find themselves in a three-way Coastal tie with Georgia Tech and North Carolina.
5. Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-3; LW: No. 9) – The Jackets kept their Coastal Division hopes alive with a 68-50 win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. It was the most points ever scored in an ACC game, and it was an impressive performance by Yellow Jackets quarterback Vad Lee. The defense will have to play better, though, this weekend against Duke.
6. North Carolina (6-4, 3-3; LW: No. 4) – You’d never know the Tar Heels had two weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech. The defense allowed 588 yards, seven rushing touchdowns and 28 first downs in the loss. Once again, UNC won’t be able to get past the eight-win mark, and even that’s not a guarantee with a Thursday night road trip to UVa looming.
7. Virginia (4-6, 2-4; LW: No. 11) – The Hoos are one of the hottest teams in the ACC right now, with back-to-back wins. Two more and they finish at .500 and become bowl-eligible despite a dismal start to the season. Quarterback Michael Rocco threw for four touchdowns and no picks in the win over Miami.
8. NC State (6-4, 3-3; LW: No. 4) – The Wolfpack bounced back from the loss to Virginia with a convincing 37-6 win over Wake Forest to become bowl-eligible. NC State should now have some confidence heading into Saturday’s game versus Clemson at Death Valley. It was a much more complete effort in all three phases of the game and one the team can be proud of.
9. Virginia Tech (4-6, 2-4; LW: No. 8) – It wasn’t for lack of effort. In fact, Virginia Tech’s defense played its best game of the season against Florida State, but the Hokies came up empty on two turnovers and weren’t able to capitalize on the Noles’ mistakes. Virginia Tech now has to win its final two games just to become bowl eligible, and that won’t be easy against a UVa rival trying to do the same.
10. Wake Forest (5-5, 3-5; LW: No. 6) – The Deacs were beaten soundly by NC State, particularly up front, where the Wolfpack’s defensive line got to quarterback Tanner Price repeatedly. Wake Forest is now in a tough spot with undefeated Notre Dame coming up, and Vanderbilt to end the season. The Deacs need to find one more win to go bowling.
11. Boston College (2-8, 1-5; LW: No. 12) – It was a respectable performance against Notre Dame, a typical, blue-collar, BC effort, but it simply wasn’t enough against a better team. BC’s running game was again stifled, and receiver Bobby Swigert was knocked out of the game with an injury. BC gets to stay home again for Virginia Tech before ending the season at NC State.
12. Maryland (4-6, 2-4; LW: No. 10) – The Terps are hurting, both literally and figuratively. They played hard against Clemson but had only 180 total yards. That number could decrease even more this weekend when Florida State comes to town if the Terps don’t get Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown back on the field.
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