ACC power rankings

September, 8, 2009
9/08/09
8:58
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


There's been a little shakeup this week.

1. Georgia Tech (1-0) -- The Jackets were one of the few teams in the conference to take care of business against a nonconference opponent, though they did have some kinks to work out against Jacksonville State. Still, they’ll need to up the intensity level a notch for Thursday night’s game against Clemson.

2. Miami (1-0, 1-0 ACC) -- The Hurricanes put on a fantastic show in their 38-34 road win over FSU, and quarterback Jacory Harris showed both his durability and his calm in the clutch with that 40-yard pass play to Travis Benjamin that set up the winning score. This momentum can go a long way with a bye week to prepare for Georgia Tech. Because of the way they struggled defensively against the Jackets last year, though, I couldn’t give them the top spot just yet.

3. Virginia Tech (0-1) -- Don’t write off the Hokies just because they lost to Alabama. In case you forgot, they won the ACC title and the Orange Bowl last year with the same offense. And Bama is the No. 5 ranked team in the country. Not William & Mary. Still, after watching Miami’s offense it’s hard not to wonder how good the Hokies could be if they could air it out like that. And that’s why the Canes have moved up the ranks, thanks in large part to Mark Whipple.

4. Florida State (0-1, 0-1) -- So close. It was so close. Christian Ponder threw for 294 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and added a rushing touchdown. He put his team in position to win and FSU proved it’s got a few receivers -- and a tight end -- who can catch the ball. If the defense catches up to the offense, the Noles will be tough to beat, but clearly they’re the best team in the Atlantic Division until somebody proves otherwise.

5. North Carolina (1-0) -- UNC’s offense looked good against The Citadel, but it will face a bigger challenge on the road Saturday at Connecticut. The defense reinforced what we already knew -- it’s very good. Not until UNC plays Georgia Tech, though, will we really know the Heels’ place in the Coastal Division.

6. Clemson (1-0) -- The Tigers still have some questions on offense, and we’ll learn more about it on Thursday when they face Georgia Tech. Clemson came out with six defensive back and only one traditional linebacker against Middle Tennessee, and that’s a scheme that obviously won’t work against the Jackets’ spread option.

7. NC State (0-1) -- This is a better team than the one that showed up against South Carolina, but it can’t afford until the second half of the season to show it. Quarterback Russell Wilson needs some more time to set his feet, and his receivers need to help him out a bit. They’ve got to start running the ball more effectively, though, to open up the passing game.

8. Wake Forest (0-1) -- The Deacs hurt themselves with four turnovers in their loss to Baylor, but it’s important to realize that Baylor is a much improved team from a year ago. Still, more was expected from quarterback Riley Skinner, who threw three interceptions, and the defense still has some questions to answer.

9. Boston College (1-0) -- Before we go crowning them champs of the Atlantic, the Eagles will need to play some tougher competition before their true potential can be evaluated. They deserve credit, though, for thumping Northeastern and proving they’ve got a capable offense despite such inexperience at quarterback. It was a great head coaching debut for Frank Spaziani.

10. Maryland (0-1) -- Yes, Cal was a better team, but Maryland’s weaknesses up front on both sides of the ball were exposed, and those are problem areas other teams will prey on. Quarterback Chris Turner was sacked six times, and the Terps’ new defense allowed almost 600 total yards.

11. Duke (0-1) -- The Blue Devils didn’t look like the improved team they had spent all summer talking about, and didn’t give the effort coach David Cutcliffe said was needed to beat FCS defending national champion Richmond. The Blue Devils have tough road trips to Army and Kansas looming.

12. Virginia (0-1) -- At least Duke lost to the best team in the FCS. Virginia lost to William & Mary, and turned the ball over seven times in the process. The Cavaliers will host No. 17-ranked TCU this weekend, and will need much more from Gregg Brandon’s spread offense.

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