It’s official. The upper ranks of the ACC have become a low/medium-stakes game of Rock-Paper-Scissors.
Scratch that. The upper ranks have become Starrcade ’89. Surely, you remember the marquee event of the National Wrestling Association’s 1989 calendar. On one half of the card, four top wrestlers battled one another in a round-robin tournament. On the other half, four tag teams did likewise. The events of Dec. 13, 1989, sparked world-changing events we’re still reckoning with today. The reunion of the Four Horsemen. The devastating knee injury that prevented Sting from getting his title shot against Ric Flair. The opening of the first McDonald’s in Russia.
Twenty years later, it’s all happening again. Thanks to a win Saturday over Virginia Tech (Ric Flair/paper), Georgia Tech (Sting/scissors) moves into second place in the conference. Meanwhile, Miami (Lex Luger/rock) takes over first by virtue of its early-season victory over Georgia Tech. Miami’s lone blemish is a September loss at Virginia Tech.
Look, I know what you’re thinking. Ric Flair didn’t beat Lex Luger. They fought to a draw. But we all saw that match. We all know who really won. Think about it.
Enough pro wrestling talk. On to the rankings, where Clemson climbs three rungs and Wake Forest does the opposite.
|1 (2)||Miami (5-1, 2-1)
Good news, Miami: You’re #1. Bad news: even if you win out, you may not make the conference title game. And you probably don’t have a shot at the national title game, despite having the best resume of any one-loss team in the country. But enjoy the midseason throne.
Last week: W at Central Florida (27-7)
This week: vs. Clemson
|2 (3)||Georgia Tech (6-1, 4-1)
Josh Nesbitt was both the best running back (122 rushing yards, 3 TDs) and the worst quarterback (1-7, 14 yards, 1 INT) on the field in the GT-VT showdown. When was the last time a top-five team lost a game where the opposing QB only completed one pass?
Last week: W vs. Virginia Tech (28-23)
This week: at Virginia
|3 (1)||Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-1)
Pole position in the Coastal Division, any shot at the national title game, possibly a chance at the BCS: The Hokies lost a lot in that game against Georgia Tech. They get a week off to ponder it.
Last week: L at Georgia Tech (28-23)
This week: Idle
|4 (5)||Boston College (5-2, 3-2)
I said some mean things about Montel Harris a couple of weeks ago. Rather, facts and data said some mean things about him. So, credit where credit’s due: he rolled up the eighth-highest single game yardage total in league history and utterly embarrassed N.C. State. Up next for BC: The Other Catholics!
Last week: W vs. N.C. State (52-20)
This week: at Notre Dame
|5 (8)||Clemson (3-3, 2-2)
For years, Clemson swung wildly between two poles, slaughtering good teams and losing to bad ones in consecutive weeks. Thank God they fired Tommy Bowden and ended THAT cycle!
Last week: W vs. Wake Forest (38-3)
This week: at Miami
|6 (7)||Virginia (3-3, 2-0)
We rated Virginia too low: the last team without a conference loss rated sixth? That seems unfair. We rated Virginia too high: they lost to William & Mary and have beaten two of the worst teams in the ACC. Maybe UVa will make things a little simpler by beating GT this week. But we doubt it.
Last week: W at Maryland (20-9)
This week: vs. Georgia Tech
|7 (4)||Wake Forest (4-3, 2-2)
Apparently, our presence on the Wake Forest bandwagon was more than it could bear. The Deacons have a scheduling quirk over the next three weeks. They get two shots at the Paul Johnson offense, facing Navy this week and Georgia Tech on Nov. 7. Good preparation for the GT game, but they unfortunately have to travel to Miami in between.
Last week: L at Clemson (38-3)
This week: at Navy
|8 (6)||North Carolina (4-2, 0-2)
The Tar Heels dropped two spots despite being idle this past week. Blame Clemson and Wake: the Tigers looked that good, and Wake didn’t convince us they’re worse than the ACC-winless Heels. Big pillowfight Thursday in Tallahassee.
Last week: Idle
This week: vs. Florida State (Thursday)
|9 (9)||Duke (3-3, 1-1)
Duke has a chance to put together its first ACC winning streak since…good Lord, since 1994. That was also the last time the Blue Devils made a bowl game. A win over Maryland this week would get them a step closer to updating that entry in the media guide, too.
Last week: Idle
This week: vs. Maryland
|10 (12T)||Florida State (2-4, 0-3)
The Seminoles had their best weekend in a month, moving up two slots without doing anything. Counterintuitive take on FSU: maybe they’re not that bad. Going into last weekend, Brian Fremeau still had them rated 26th in the nation. Just throwing it out there.
Last week: Idle
This week: at North Carolina (Thursday)
|11 (10)||N.C. State (3-4, 0-3)
Our beloved Wolfpack avoids the cellar by the thinnest of margins. This thin. The less said about this team, the better.
Last week: L at Boston College (52-20)
This week: Idle
|12 (12T)||Maryland (2-5, 1-2)
I’m going to find something nice to say. That Torrey Smith is a very good wide receiver. Second in the conference in receiving yards, first in kick return yards, and he’s scored touchdowns in three different ways.
Last week: L vs. Virginia (20-9)
This week: at Duke