- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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We’ve got a few tweaks to the lineup this week, but no major shakeups. Welcome to the top five, Terps
1. Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC; Last week: No. 1): The Tigers avoided being ridiculed for “Clemsoning” with a 26-14 win over NC State, and even though the offense wasn’t clicking smoothly for four quarters, the team found a way to win with its defense. Vic Beasley continued to dominate, and the Tigers will look to keep it up this weekend against Wake Forest.
2. Florida State (3-0, 1-0; Last week: No. 2): The Seminoles cruised to a 54-6 win over FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman in a game which revealed absolutely nothing about FSU. Florida State has to travel to Boston College in Week 5, but won’t face its first true test of the season until Oct. 5 against Maryland.
3. Miami (3-0, 0-0; Last week: No. 3): The Canes were relentless in a 77-7 win over Savannah State, but they got a small scare when quarterback Stephen Morris left the game in the first quarter with a sprained ankle. Coach Al Golden told The Associated Press, “It looks like he’ll be fine.” The Canes travel to USF this week for their final nonconference game of the season.
4. Georgia Tech (3-0, 2-0; Last week: No. 4): With a 28-20 win over North Carolina, the Jackets took another step in asserting themselves as one of the top teams in the Coastal Division, further setting the stage for a showdown against Miami on Oct. 5. First, though, the Jackets will have to beat Virginia Tech on Thursday night, a quick five-day turnaround for both teams.
5. Maryland (4-0, 0-0; Last week: No. 7): The Terps blanked West Virginia 37-0 and are now 4-0 for the first time since 2001, the last time Maryland won the ACC and played in the Orange Bowl. They’ve got a bye week to prepare for Florida State, but have already matched their win total from last year.
6. Virginia Tech (3-1, 0-0; Last week: No. 6): It wasn’t pretty, but the Hokies once again found a way to get it done, this time a 29-21 triple-overtime win against Marshall. Even the defense wasn’t as dependable as it has been this month. Virginia Tech was just 2-of-16 on third-down conversions -- a stat that won’t fly on Thursday night against the productive Yellow Jackets’ offense.
7. North Carolina (1-2, 0-1; Last week: No. 5): UNC couldn’t hold on to a 20-7 lead in the first half against Georgia Tech and fell into a hole early in the Coastal Division race. This is a team that has yet to really make a statement against a quality opponent, with its lone win coming against Middle Tennessee. They could have a trap game this week against East Carolina.
8. NC State (2-1, 0-1; Last week: No. 9): The Wolfpack should take some pride in their performance against Clemson, despite the loss. The defense played better than expected and in the first half was able to pressure quarterback Tajh Boyd. If the Pack keeps it up, they could overachieve in Year 1 under coach Dave Doeren.
9. Pitt (2-1, 1-1; Last week: No. 10): Who needs defense? Quarterback Tom Savage threw six touchdown passes in a 58-55 win over Duke to give the Panthers their first ACC win as a member of the conference. Pitt will have home-field advantage this week against Virginia in another important Coastal Division game.
10. Virginia (2-1, 0-0; Last week: No. 8): This was another FCS snoozer, as Virginia rolled over VMI, 49-0. It was the final tuneup before the Hoos begin conference play on Saturday at Pitt. UVa entered the game trying to be more explosive on offense, but it took until the second quarter to showcase it. UVa won’t be able to afford to wait against Pitt.
11. Boston College (2-1, 1-0; Last week: No. 12): The Eagles had a bye week to recover from their cross-country loss to USC and prepare for Saturday’s home game against Florida State. BC got off to a good start in the Atlantic Division race with its win over Wake Forest in Week 2, but this will be an even bigger challenge than what it faced at USC.
12. Duke (2-2, 0-2; Last week: No. 11): The Blue Devils are already on the outside looking in at the Coastal Division race after back-to-back ACC losses, and four turnovers didn’t help in Saturday’s loss at Pitt. Nor did the defense. Duke has a chance to fix some of those mistakes against Troy this week and will have a bye week to regroup before facing Navy.
13. Syracuse (2-2, 0-0; Last week: No. 13): We have yet to learn the true identity of this team, after losses to legitimate Big Ten teams, and then wins against unheralded, overmatched opponents. We’ve also seen two different results with two different quarterbacks. Have the Orange found their stride because of Terrel Hunt, or because of their level of competition lately?
14. Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1; Last week: No. 14): Wake Forest overcame a sloppy start and left West Point with a much-needed 25-11 win over Army. The Deacs were trailing 11-10 late in the third quarter, but avoided three straight losses heading into Death Valley this weekend.