- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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There has been a change at the top. Clemson’s loss to N.C. State, coupled with its underwhelming performances in each of the past three games, now have the Tigers looking up at the Hokies, despite the regular-season game. Here’s a look at your new leader board in the ACC:
1. Virginia Tech (10-1, 6-1 ACC; LW: No. 2) – It wasn’t their finest performance of the season, but the Hokies found a way to beat North Carolina in a nationally televised Thursday night game and will play rival Virginia for the Coastal Division title this weekend.
2. Clemson (9-2, 6-2 ACC; LW: No. 1) – It was a meltdown of epic proportions, even by Clemson’s standards. The Tigers couldn’t seem to do anything right against N.C. State and haven’t been in sync recently. It’s a good thing for Clemson that it clinched the Atlantic Division title before it faced N.C. State.
3. Virginia (8-3, 5-2 ACC; LW: No. 4) – The Cavaliers shocked Florida State with a 14-13 win in Tallahassee, the program’s first win at FSU. Virginia has never played in the ACC title game, but can make its first appearance with a win over rival Virginia Tech on Saturday in Charlottesville.
4. Georgia Tech (8-3, 5-3 ACC; LW: No. 5) – The Yellow Jackets are going to have to play much better than they did against Duke if they’re going to stand a chance against rival Georgia this weekend. Seven penalties and two turnovers won’t fly against the SEC East champs.
5. Wake Forest (6-5, 5-3 ACC; LW: No. 6) – The Deacs got off to a slow start against Maryland but pulled away in the second half to earn bowl eligibility for the first time in three seasons. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and gave the players and coaches some relief about their postseason heading into the regular-season finale against Vanderbilt.
6. Florida State (7-4, 5-3 ACC; LW: No. 3) – It seemed like no matter how many second chances the Noles were given on Saturday, they couldn’t seal the deal against Virginia. There were too many mistakes and penalties, and Florida State looked disorganized down the stretch. The good news? The Noles still look better than rival Florida.
7. N.C. State (6-5, 3-4; LW: No. 8) – The Wolfpack beat Clemson in all four phases of the game and can now become bowl eligible by beating Maryland in the regular-season finale on Saturday. There’s only one question remaining: Which N.C. State team will show up? The one that lost to BC and got drubbed by Cincinnati? Or the one that beat UNC for a fifth straight time and knocked off a Top 10 team two weeks later?
8. Miami (6-5, 3-4 ACC; LW: No. 7) – The Hurricanes played their hearts out and became bowl eligible with a 6-3 road win over South Florida. One day later, they learned the university had self-imposed a bowl ban this season. Now the Canes have to pick up the pieces in time for Friday’s game against Boston College.
9. North Carolina (6-5, 2-5 ACC; LW: No. 9) – A fumble by Ryan Houston at the 5-yard line was a costly mistake, but it wasn’t the only one as the Tar Heels fell to Virginia Tech, 24-21, on Thursday night. UNC has lost two straight heading into the regular-season finale against Duke.
10. Boston College (3-8, 2-5; LW: No. 11) – BC pushed Notre Dame to the brink before losing, 16-14, but the Eagles had plenty of opportunities they didn’t capitalize on. BC was just 3-of-13 on third-down conversions, and the offense struggled for most of the second half. BC will try to finish the season on a positive note on Friday at Miami.
11. Duke (3-8, 1-6 ACC; LW: No. 10) – The Blue Devils put up a fight against Georgia Tech before losing 38-31 and have now lost six straight. Despite the fact they beat BC during the regular season, Duke got bumped down a notch because the Blue Devils haven’t shown enough progress to come out on the winning end.
12. Maryland (2-9, 1-6 ACC; LW: No. 12) – And yet despite Duke’s miserable finish to the season, Maryland has fared worse. The biggest problem is the defense, which can’t seem to stop anyone. The Terps haven’t won a game since Oct. 1 against Towson. They’ve lost seven straight.
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