The ACC has clearly divided itself into two tiers.
The teams in the first tier — Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia Tech — are nationally ranked, have an impressive win or two on their résumés and haven’t lost to anyone they shouldn’t have. There’s even a clear pecking order among the trio: Virginia Tech has beaten Miami who beat Georgia Tech.
Ranking the rest of the league is a bit like playing 52-Card Pickup — throw all the teams up in the air, put them in whatever random order you happen to pick them up and feel wholly unsatisfied. OK, Boston College is clearly better than, say, Duke right now, but you get the idea.
Last Saturday, the teams ranked 4 through 7 in our two-man poll all lost conference games to lower ranked teams. That either means parity rules three-quarters of the league, or we don’t know what we’re talking about. We’d like to think it’s the former, so here’s another crack at figuring out where everyone currently stands.
|1 (1)||Virginia Tech (4-1, 2-0)
The Hokies’ win over Duke might not have been pretty, but they did what they needed to do to avoid the upset and stay on top of the conference. A lot of other highly ranked teams around the country haven’t been able to say the same thing.
Last week: W at Duke (34-26)
This week: vs. Boston College
|2 (2)||Miami (3-1, 2-1)
After the Hurricanes’ big win over the Sooners, QB Jacory Harris came up with the perfect way to keep his teammates grounded: all SpongeBob SquarePants on TV, all the time. The Heisman Trophy race needs this man. And freshman safety Ray Ray Armstrong needs more playing time after hits like this one.
Last week: W vs. Oklahoma (21-20)
This week: vs. Florida A&M
|3 (3)||Georgia Tech (4-1, 2-1)
The Yellow Jackets actually had some balance on offense against Mississippi State, with Josh Nesbitt throwing for a career-high 262 yards to match the team’s 213 rushing yards. But Paul Johnson probably wasn’t too happy about the 487 yards that the Bulldogs gained against his defense.
Last week: W at Mississippi State (42-31)
This week: at Florida State
|4 (8)||Boston College (4-1, 2-1)
All of a sudden, the Eagles’ fifth game in the last three seasons against the Hokies has taken on some added importance. BC has taken two of three from Atlantic Division opponents and looks as good as anyone on that side of the conference.
Last week: W vs. Florida State (28-21)
This week: at Virginia Tech
|Wake Forest (3-2, 1-1)
Riley Skinner is riding a pretty remarkable streak right now. The senior quarterback has set a career high in passing yards in each of his last three games, including a 361-yard performance against N.C. State.
Last week: W vs. N.C. State (30-24)
This week: vs. Maryland
|6 (4)||N.C. State (3-2, 0-1)
So much for going undefeated against the North Carolina teams again. The Wolfpack might not win the mythical state championship this year, but they can get their season back on track against their Triangle rivals on Saturday.
Last week: L at Wake Forest (30-24)
This week: vs. Duke
|7 (5)||North Carolina (3-2, 0-2)
The Tar Heels offense is averaging about 281 yards per game, ranking them 113th nationally out of 120 I-A teams. A visit from I-AA Georgia Southern might be just what they need to figure things out.
Last week: L vs. Virginia (16-3)
This week: vs. Georgia Southern
|8 (6)||Clemson (2-3, 1-2)
Clemson just can’t catch a break. Comebacks against Georgia Tech and TCU fell short, and two missed field goals cost them against lowly Maryland. The Tigers have this weekend off, which gives them — and this fan — time to regroup.
Last week: L at Maryland (24-21)
This week: Idle
|Florida State (2-3, 0-2)
We promised to leave the Seminoles at No. 7 until they showed some consistency one way or another. They’ve now lost two in a row and have started a debate about whether their coach should be forced into retirement or allowed to go out on his own terms. We’re dropping them accordingly.
Last week: L at Boston College (28-21)
This week: vs. Georgia Tech
|10 (12)||Virginia (1-3, 1-0)
Could last weekend’s win over the Tar Heels be the start of yet another comeback from nowhere for Al Groh’s team? With games still left against the top 4 in this week’s rankings, it’s hard to imagine the Cavaliers getting the six wins they’d need for a bowl berth to save Groh’s job.
Last week: W at North Carolina (16-3)
This week: vs. Indiana
|11 (11)||Maryland (2-3, 1-0)
The Terrapins are leading the Atlantic Division right now. Don’t expect that to last as long as they continue to rank in the bottom five nationally in turnover margin.
Last week: W vs. Clemson (24-21)
This week: at Wake Forest
|12 (10)||Duke (2-3, 0-1)
We actually feel guilty about this one. The Blue Devils played a competitive game against Virginia Tech and are clearly showing signs of improvement. Unfortunately, Virginia’s and Maryland’s wins over conference foes outweigh Duke’s earlier wins over Army and N.C. Central.
Last week: L vs. Virginia Tech (34-26)
This week: at N.C. State