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Tuesday, September 6, 2011
ACC power rankings: Week 2

By Heather Dinich

Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

The first week is officially in the books. What a great game Monday night between Miami and Maryland. There are still a lot of questions for both of those teams. Maryland must get better in the red zone, and turnovers continue to plague the Canes. Based on what we’ve seen so far, here’s the latest pecking order in the ACC:

1. Florida State (1-0): The Seminoles’ defense was the highlight in a 34-0 shutout of Louisiana-Monroe, but it was a strong debut for quarterback EJ Manuel in his first season as full-time starter.

2. Virginia Tech (1-0): There was no hint of any upset brewing in Blacksburg, as David Wilson ran all over Appalachian State and the defense did its part in a 66-13 romp. The Hokies will have a much bigger challenge this week when they face East Carolina on the road.

3. North Carolina (1-0): Quarterback Bryn Renner had the best debut of any of the first-year starting quarterbacks, and it was also a good start for first-year interim coach Everett Withers in the win over James Madison. The competition increases against a Rutgers team that could be a surprise in the Big East race.

4. Maryland (1-0): The Terps overcame their struggles in the red zone and a gritty effort from Miami in a 32-24 win, but they only scored one touchdown in seven trips inside the 20-yard line. They gain an edge, though, with the first conference win of the season. They get a bye week to fix the mistakes before West Virginia rolls into town.

5. Georgia Tech (1-0): The Yellow Jackets cruised in a 63-21 win over Western Carolina, showcasing their passing game along the way. Holding onto the ball was a task, though, and they’ll have a slightly bigger challenge this week with a road trip to Middle Tennessee, which just gave Purdue fits.

6. Clemson (1-0): It took a half for Clemson’s new offense to wake up, but once it did, the Tigers cruised to a 43-19 win over Troy. Quarterback Tajh Boyd played much better in the second half, but there’s only one more tune-up game remaining before the toughest stretch of the schedule beings.

7. NC State (1-0): The Wolfpack trailed Liberty at one point, but dug itself out of a hole for 43-21 win. The final score gave the appearance of a much more convincing win than it actually was. The Wolfpack has to travel to Wake Forest this week for what should be a close Atlantic Division matchup.

8. Miami (0-1): There’s no faulting Miami’s effort in this game, but the four turnovers had nothing to do with the NCAA investigation. The Canes have a bye week to figure out if Stephen Morris will still be their starting quarterback or if they’ll switch to Jacory Harris.

9. Virginia (1-0): The Hoos beat William & Mary 40-3, and while the defense was the highlight, it was also a strong debut for running back Kevin Parks and quarterback Michael Rocco. Virginia travels to Indiana this week, a very winnable game that could boost their bowl chances.

10. Boston College (0-1): The Eagles lost to a Northwestern team playing with its backup quarterback. Part of the problem was BC’s defense -- it didn’t show up, with the exception of Luke Kuechly. This loss gave BC’s bowl hopes a big hit. A road trip to UCF shouldn’t be overlooked.

11. Wake Forest (0-1): The Deacs probably would have beaten Syracuse on the road if quarterback Tanner Price could have stayed healthy for another few minutes. Instead, the game shifted and the Deacs blew a fourth-quarter lead and lost in overtime. They have to rebound quickly against NC State.

12. Duke (0-1): The Blue Devils lost to Richmond for the third time, a loss that was devastating to their hopes of getting to a bowl and baffling considering how potent the offense could be. They made too many mistakes are in for another reality check against Stanford this weekend.