The regular season is officially over, but the most important game in the conference remains. Saturday’s ACC championship will determine which team is the best, but here in the power rankings, Georgia Tech remains at the top for the sixth straight week.
Voters in the Associated Press and USA Today coaches’ polls decided to jump Virginia Tech over the Jackets, but that didn’t make sense to me. The Hokies’ win over a 3-9 Virginia team didn’t warrant the move, especially when Virginia Tech lost to Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Here’s how the rest of the power rankings look after the final week of conference play:
1. Georgia Tech (10-2, 7-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) – The Yellow Jackets stumbled against rival Georgia and dropped to No. 10 in the BCS standings. Defensively, the Jackets looked unimpressive, and offensively didn’t execute as well as they had been. Still, this team is loaded with talent and will represent the conference well in the title game.
2. Virginia Tech (9-3, 6-2; LW: No. 3) – The Hokies ended the regular season on a four-game winning streak and are in position for one of the top tier bowls. Ryan Williams can’t be stopped, and he was a big reason they took home the Commonwealth Cup. Again.
3. Clemson (8-4, 6-2; LW: No. 2) – The Tigers’ offense disappeared against South Carolina, and while the Gamecocks’ defense was one of the best Clemson had seen all season, there is still room for improvement heading into the title game.
4. Miami (9-3, 5-3; LW: No. 4) – The Canes were one of the few ranked ACC teams to avoid an upset this weekend, and deserve credit for it. Quarterback Jacory Harris is ready to cap off an impressive first year as the Canes’ starter with a top-notch bowl, but will Miami be among the first teams selected?
5. North Carolina (8-4, 4-4; LW: No. 5) – The Tar Heels squandered their opportunity to move up the pecking order in the bowl selection process with their loss to NC State, and suffered another agonizing defeat to their in-state rival in the process. A bowl game is still a successful season, though, considering how it started for the Heels.
6. Boston College (8-4, 5-3; LW: No. 7) – It’s not always pretty, but the Eagles have found enough ways to win to be considered among the top half of the ACC this year. Not bad for a team predicted to finish last in its division.
7. Florida State (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 6) – It got ugly early in the Swamp on Saturday, and the Noles were no match for the No. 1 team in the country. A shakeup in Tallahassee is expected soon, and it could be happening behind closed doors this morning. The only thing we know for sure is that Bobby Bowden wants to come back.
8. Wake Forest (5-7, 3-5; LW: No. 9) – The season finale against Duke was the only chance they had left to salvage their season, and with the help of quarterback Riley Skinner, who played with everything he had in a record-setting performance, the Deacs were able to go out on a winning note.
9. Duke (5-7, 3-5; LW: No. 8) – It was a disappointing end to a remarkable career for quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, who wanted so desperately to take his team to a bowl game this year, but considering where the program has been and where it ended with Lewis at quarterback, it was undoubtedly a successful career.
10. NC State (5-7, 2-6; LW: No. 11) – The Pack used the emotion of the news of offensive coordinator Dana Bible’s leukemia in an inspirational way and beat the Tar Heels for the third straight year under coach Tom O’Brien. If the players remember nothing else from a season they’d most likely prefer to forget, they’ll remember they beat UNC.
11. Virginia (3-9, 2-6; LW: No. 10) – It was the final game of coach Al Groh’s career, as he was fired on Sunday after losing to in-state rival Virginia Tech. A coaching search has begun, though odds are this was a long time coming and athletic director Craig Littlepage already has a few names in mind.
12. Maryland (2-10, 1-7; LW: No. 12) – Odds are Terps’ fans want their inconsistent reputation back, as this is the fourth straight week Maryland has landed at the bottom of the power rankings. It was an abysmal season under coach Ralph Friedgen, whose future will now be evaluated. Much like Bowden, though, Friedgen isn’t ready to call it quits yet.