- Heather Dinich, College Football Reporter
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There was a bit of shuffling in the middle this week, and it’s getting more difficult to use head-to-head results to determine the pecking order. The bottom, though, remains status quo with only two teams still winless in league play. Here’s how the ACC stacks up with just four weeks remaining:
1. Florida State (8-0, 6-0 ACC; LW: No. 1) – The Noles left no doubt they were the better team in their 41-14 win over Miami on Saturday, further stating their case as a national title contender. With Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho and Florida left on the schedule, the most difficult stretch is now behind FSU. The Noles have scored at least 40 points in every game this season.
2. Clemson (8-1, 6-1; LW: No. 3) – The Tigers played arguably their most complete game of the season in a 59-10 drubbing of Virginia. Quarterback Tajh Boyd became the ACC's career leader in touchdowns responsible for, and he threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. Clemson has a bye week to prepare for a tricky game against Georgia Tech, which has won three straight and has historically given the Tigers some headaches.
3. Miami (7-1, 3-1; LW: No. 2) – Not only did Miami lose the game, the Canes also lost star running back Duke Johnson to an injury. The good news for Miami is that it is still in the lead to win the Coastal Division. The task for the Canes now is to shake off the disappointment and realize that a rematch with Florida State is still possible. First, they have to get past the Hokies on Saturday in a game that will either further distance Miami from the pack, or cause more confusion in the division race.
4. Georgia Tech (6-3, 5-2; LW: No. 6) – The Jackets became bowl eligible with their 21-10 win over Pitt, a performance in which the defense was the highlight with five sacks. Georgia Tech is playing well now, but it’s probably too little, too late. The Jackets likely played themselves out of the Coastal Division race earlier with back-to-back losses against Virginia Tech and Miami. It’s only going to get tougher with a road trip to Death Valley looming.
5. Duke (6-2, 2-2; LW: No. 4) – The bowl-eligible Blue Devils had a bye week to revel in their monumental win at Virginia Tech. The next step is winning the unofficial state championship. Duke hosts NC State this weekend, and ends the season with back-to-back road trips against Wake Forest and North Carolina. Every game left on the schedule -- including Miami -- is winnable.
6. Boston College (4-4, 2-3; LW: No. 10) – The Eagles have been oh-so-close to a breakthrough win this fall, and they finally knocked the door down against Virginia Tech. BC has established its identity as a disciplined, power running team with a determined defense, and it’s been a remarkable turnaround in the first season under coach Steve Addazio.
7. Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 5) – The Hokies took two steps back in the past two weeks, and now face what could be an elimination game in the Coastal Division race. After back-to-back losses to Duke and BC, Virginia Tech is now in a must-win situation on the road against Miami. The Hokies have turned it over eight times in the past two games, though, and on Saturday, the defense didn’t help.
8. Pitt (4-4, 2-3; LW: No. 9) – The Panthers’ 21-10 loss to Georgia Tech significantly decreased their chances of playing for the ACC title, but their bowl hopes are still alive, and they’ve got a big game against Notre Dame looming. Once again, the pass protection was an issue. Keeping quarterback Tom Savage on his feet will be critical in becoming bowl eligible.
9. North Carolina (3-5, 2-3; LW: No. 12) – The Tar Heels helped redeem themselves from an otherwise disappointing season with a 27-19 win at NC State, the program’s first win in Raleigh since 2005. UNC is likely out of the ACC race, but the Tar Heels can still salvage the season by reaching six wins.
10. Syracuse (4-4, 2-2; LW: No. 11) – It was a defensive struggle en route to a 13-0 home win over Wake Forest, but the Orange kept its bowl hopes alive. Syracuse faces a tough two weeks, though, as the Orange play back-to-back road games against Maryland and Florida State.
11. Wake Forest (4-5, 2-4; LW: No. 7) – The Deacs were devastated not only by the loss, but also by the season-ending injury to top playmaker and wide receiver Michael Campanaro, who broke his collarbone in the first quarter and will miss four to six weeks. Wake’s bowl hopes are now hanging by a thread, as the Deacs need two more wins and still have to face Florida State, Duke and Vanderbilt.
12. Maryland (5-3, 1-3; LW: No. 8 ) – The Terps had a much-needed bye week to rest and heal, and coach Randy Edsall said last week he expects to have more players healthy for Saturday’s game against Syracuse. Maryland has been just one win away from bowl eligibility for three weeks now, but the Terps have a good chance to get it done at home this weekend.
13. NC State (3-5, 0-5; LW: No. 13) – The hits just keep on coming for the beleaguered Pack, which dropped to 0-5 after their loss to rival North Carolina – the team’s fifth straight ACC loss under first-year coach Dave Doeren. Doeren called a regrettable fake punt, and quarterback Brandon Mitchell threw two picks. There was plenty of blame to go around.
14. Virginia (2-7, 0-5; LW: No. 14) – The Hoos were absolutely rolled over at home by Clemson in a 59-10 loss. Clemson racked up 610 total yards, and Virginia has now lost six straight games. UVa has back-to-back road games against North Carolina and Miami before ending the season at home against rival Virginia Tech.
There was a bit of shuffling in the middle this week, and it’s getting more difficult to use head-to-head results to determine the pecking order.