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Monday, November 16, 2009
ACC power rankings: Week 12

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

There are only two more weeks remaining in the regular season, which means there’s little time for anyone to make a serious move in the conference race. We know who is the best -- and who is the worst -- in the ACC. Georgia Tech is No. 1 until somebody proves otherwise. We’ll find out this week if Clemson will get that chance in the ACC championship game. Maryland remains No. 12.

Here’s how the ACC hierarchy looks heading into Week 12:

1. Georgia Tech (10-1, 7-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) –The Yellow Jackets clinched the Coastal Division title with their convincing win over Duke, and have the bye week to enjoy it before hosting rival Georgia. They remain at No. 7 in the BCS standings this week, and have earned their spot as the top one-loss team in the country.

2. Clemson (7-3, 5-2; LW: No. 4) – With their win over NC State, the Tigers are finally in a position to make the program’s first appearance in the ACC title game. First they need to guarantee it with a home win over Virginia this weekend. It's been an impressive season for the Tigers in the first full year under coach Dabo Swinney.

3. Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2; LW: No. 3) – The Hokies got a complete effort against the bedraggled Terps, and haven’t given up on their goal of a 10-win season. While it’s not the finish they had been hoping for this year, Virginia Tech deserves credit for regrouping instead of letting back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina snowball into a disaster.

4. Miami (7-3, 4-3; LW: No. 2) – The Canes have been struggling on both sides of the ball lately, and turnovers have been costly. This isn’t the same team that started the season with a 3-1 record, and the loss to North Carolina on Saturday ruined any remaining shot Miami might have had of receiving a BCS bowl bid.

5. North Carolina (7-3, 3-3; LW: No. 6) – The Tar Heels have reversed their fortunes, and now look capable of contending for the Coastal Division. Unfortunately for them, it’s too little, too late. Still, the program is capable of improving upon last year’s eight-win season and earned a bowl appearance. Hardly the disaster it started out to be. I know UNC just beat Miami, but I keep my power rankings the way my Top 25 looks, and I just sneaked the Tar Heels in this week at No. 24.

6. Boston College (7-3, 4-2; LW: No. 5) – The Eagles have found ways to overcome their weaknesses all season, and Saturday at Virginia was no different. BC picked up its first road win of the season, and kept its hopes alive to sneak into the ACC championship game. They’ll need some help from Virginia this weekend, though, as BC needs Clemson to lose.

7. Florida State (5-5, 3-4; LW: No. 9) – With Christian Ponder watching from the sidelines, backup quarterback E.J. Manuel made a smooth transition into his starting role, and everything was clicking on offense for the Noles in their win over Wake Forest. They seem to have salvaged their postseason hopes, but can’t afford an embarrassing slip-up now at home against Maryland.

8. Duke (5-5, 3-3; LW: No. 7) – Duke proved that there is still a significant gap in the Coastal Division between the best team and the Blue Devils, though the conference standings indicated Duke and Georgia Tech were closer. Duke still has a chance to become bowl eligible, though, and they’ll be catching Miami while it’s down.

9. Wake Forest (4-7, 2-5; LW: No. 8) – It was a disappointing home finale for senior quarterback Riley Skinner, who had an uncharacteristically off performance in the loss to Florida State, and the Demon Deacons will be home for Christmas. Wake has a bye week this week, but it does the Deacs little good now.

10. Virginia (3-7, 2-4; LW: No. 10) – If athletic director Craig Littlepage hasn’t begun to think about the program’s future without Al Groh, now is probably the time to start. With only one home win this season -- against Indiana -- the Cavaliers’ fans have had little to cheer for. The only hope left is to play spoiler against Clemson and beat rival Virginia Tech.

11. NC State (4-6, 1-5; LW: No. 11) – The Pack has lost five of its past six, but this one stung particularly hard because it ended NC State’s hopes at bowl eligibility. It won’t get any easier as the Pack will face a ranked Virginia Tech team on the road this weekend.

12. Maryland (2-8, 1-5; LW: No. 12) – The best news for the Terps is that there are only two weeks remaining. They’ll have to face a Florida State team on the road this Saturday during a game in which the Seminoles are still playing for something. Even if Ralph Friedgen were to lose his job -- a costly $4 million option for Debbie Yow -- little would change in 2010.