- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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This will mark the fifth straight week that Clemson has held the No. 1 spot in the ACC power rankings. Yes, these Tigers have proven capable of consistency. The rest of the ACC? Flip a coin. Here’s a look at how the league stacks up heading into Week 9:
1. Clemson (8-0, 5-0 ACC; LW: No. 1) -- It was a complete effort in a 59-38 win over North Carolina, as the defense forced six turnovers, and five different receivers caught touchdown passes. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for five touchdowns and he ran for another. Defensive end Kourtnei Brown accounted for two more touchdowns on turnovers. Can they keep it up on the road this weekend against a Georgia Tech program that thrives on beating Clemson?
2. Virginia Tech (7-1, 3-1; LW: No. 2) -- The Hokies got off to a slow start offensively against Boston College, but they bounced back in the second half thanks to a 42-yard touchdown run by running back David Wilson. Virginia Tech has a road trip to Duke, which is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Wake Forest, on Saturday. The Hokies have now won three straight and are atop the Coastal Division standings.
3. Miami (4-3, 2-2; LW: No. 4) -- With their upset win over Georgia Tech on Saturday, the Hurricanes evened the playing field in the Coastal Division race and joined a pack of two-loss teams now chasing Virginia Tech. The Canes have a short week to prepare for a Thursday night game against a completely different team in Virginia.
4. Wake Forest (5-2, 4-1; LW: No. 5) -- The Deacs keep finding ways to win, and it seems to be a different player every game. Wake Forest has quietly put itself in a position to challenge Clemson for the Atlantic Division title, but they’re in a must-win situation on Saturday at North Carolina.
5. Georgia Tech (6-2, 3-2; LW: No. 3) -- The Yellow Jackets seem to have gone backwards in each of the past two weeks, as upset losses to Virginia and Miami have them looking up at Virginia Tech in the conference standings. Saturday marked the worst offensive output of the season for Georgia Tech, which will need far more than seven points to beat Clemson this weekend.
6. Florida State (4-3, 2-2; LW: No. 7) -- The Seminoles took another step forward with a win against the Terps, and this time, they got their running game going in the process. Devonta Freeman has now had two straight games of 100 yards rushing. (Where has HE been?) The Noles have home field advantage again this weekend against NC State.
7. NC State (4-3, 1-2; LW: No. 11) -- Coach Tom O’Brien has fared well in the second half of the season during his tenure in Raleigh, and he continued that trend on Saturday with a road win at Virginia. It was the Pack’s first ACC road win of the season. NC State is still three wins shy of bowl eligibility, but it suddenly looks like a much more realistic possibility.
8. North Carolina (5-3, 1-3, LW: No. 6) -- The Tar Heels were beaten soundly by Clemson on Saturday. The secondary was picked apart. The offense turned it over six times and not much went right for UNC, which fell into a hole in the Coastal Division standings that it probably won’t be able to climb out of. And yes, UNC fans should be worried about Wake Forest this weekend.
9. Virginia (4-3, 1-2; LW: No. 8) -- The Cavaliers were unable to build any momentum from their upset win over Georgia Tech and lost at home to NC State. It’s not going to get any easier this week with a Thursday night trip to Miami. The Canes have put together back-to-back wins and now have a roster free of suspensions.
10. Maryland (2-5, 1-3; LW: No. 9) -- The Terps are sinking, but on Saturday, they’ll finally meet up against a team that has fared worse this season in Boston College. Pride will be on the line in this one. The Terps have home field advantage, but BC played Virginia Tech tough on the road this past weekend. Maryland has to win four of its final five games to reach a bowl.
11. Duke (3-4, 1-2; LW: No. 10) -- The Blue Devils gave it everything they had against Wake Forest, but it was too little, too late. Wake Forest almost squandered a 17-point lead, but the defense came through in the clutch and Duke lost its 12th straight to Wake Forest.
12. Boston College (1-6, 0-4; LW: No. 12) -- For the second straight year, BC is off to an 0-4 start in conference play. The Eagles haven’t won since Sept. 24 against Massachusetts, and the next three games are against Atlantic Division opponents. BC doesn’t need to worry about getting to a bowl game, it needs to worry about winning a game. Any game.