- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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No change at the top, status quo at the bottom. In between? Every day I’m shufflin’ …
1. Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC; LW: No. 1) – Maryland gave Clemson its best shot, but the Tigers escaped College Park with a win thanks in large part to a record-setting performance by freshman receiver Sammy Watkins. It was not, however, a banner day for the defense. It was a close call, but Clemson still stands alone in the ACC and is one of 10 undefeated teams remaining in the country.
2. Virginia Tech (6-1, 2-1; LW: No. 3) – Welcome back, Hokies. Virginia’s upset of Georgia Tech gave the Hokies a boost in the conference race, but Virginia Tech has done a good job of helping itself lately. Quarterback Logan Thomas had another impressive performance in the win over Wake Forest, and the offense seems to have finally found its groove over the past two weekends.
3. Georgia Tech (6-1, 3-1; LW: No. 2) – This team has shown some vulnerabilities all season, and Virginia’s running game took advantage of one of them on Saturday. That loss didn’t undo the Jackets, it just leveled the playing field a bit more in the Coastal Division race.
4. Miami (3-3, 1-2; LW: No. 6) – Quarterback Jacory Harris has now gone three consecutive games without an interception, and the Canes seem to have new life. Miami has yet to put together back-to-back wins, but could be catching a Georgia Tech team when it’s down this weekend.
5. Wake Forest (4-2, 3-1; LW: No. 4) – The Deacs’ four-game winning streak came to a screeching halt against Virginia Tech, as the defense couldn’t find an answer for Logan Thomas or David Wilson. Wake now has back-to-back road trips against in-state opponents Duke and North Carolina, and is still in good shape with only one conference loss.
6. North Carolina (5-2, 1-2; LW: No. 5) – The Tar Heels have lost the two games that matter most so far, to division opponents Georgia Tech and Miami. It’s not going to get any easier this week at No. 7 Clemson. The Tar Heels are 5-2, but they’ve still got a lot to prove.
7. Florida State (3-3, 1-2; LW: No. 7) – The Seminoles took their frustrations out on Duke in a 41-16 romp over the Blue Devils and earned their first conference victory and snapped a three-game losing streak. After three consecutive road games, the Noles finally return home this weekend against a struggling Maryland team.
8. Virginia (4-2, 1-1; LW: No. 10) – The win over then-No. 12 Georgia Tech was monumental for coach Mike London and his program, but the challenge for Virginia now is to build on it -- something the Cavaliers weren’t able to do after last year’s upset of Miami. This team has a chance to become bowl-eligible, but it needs to take advantage of a home game against a struggling NC State team this weekend.
9. Maryland (2-4, 1-2; LW: No. 8 ) – It was an all-out effort by the Terps and an outstanding performance by quarterback C.J. Brown, but it wasn’t enough to knock off Clemson. Maryland has now lost four of its past five, and its bowl hopes seem grim. The outlook doesn’t look much brighter this weekend with a road trip to Tallahassee looming.
10. Duke (3-3, 1-1; LW: No. 9) – The Blue Devils’ three-game winning streak ran into a brick wall over the weekend against Florida State. Historically, the upcoming matchup with Wake Forest has been lopsided in the Deacs’ favor, but it’s been an entertaining series in recent years. Duke will have to get a faster start offensively, though, if it’s going to hang with Tanner Price & Co.
11. NC State (3-3, 0-2; LW: No. 11) – The Wolfpack had a bye week to heal and regroup, and they needed it -- just as much as Boston College. The problem is, NC State has back-to-back road games, and Virginia has confidence and momentum after its upset of Georgia Tech. Opportunities for bowl eligibility are getting slim.
12. Boston College (1-5, 0-3; LW: No. 12) – Coach Frank Spaziani is right: His team has shown some improvement week to week, but BC fans are ready for it to show up in the win column. That will be easier said than done, though, with back-to-back road trips, starting this weekend in Blacksburg.