#GoACC Power Rankings: Week 8

Because you can’t spell “elite” without #GoACC, each week we will provide conference-wide football power rankings.

I enjoyed a terrific fall break. I’m also thrilled that it just ended.

This past weekend marked my fourth and final Fall Break as a Virginia student. Though many reasons exist for my impending departure to prompt widespread rejoicing among Virginia sports fans — particularly those that abhor oblique pop culture references, obtuse syntax, or tedious parenthetical musings that have little to do with the proposed topic at hand when you really think about them — the knowledge that the Cavaliers will never have to play football while I diddle around on Fall Break again should count foremost among them.

Virginia is now 0-3 on Fall Break weekends since I arrived on Grounds in 2010, a record which includes last year’s blowout loss to Duke and a defeat to Maryland this past Saturday that about as pleasant to endure as high-fiving a sting ray. Ipso facto, I made us lose. I could push this point a little further, but I’m at the 25-yard line already and might as well lock it down here.

The rest of the conference slate, meanwhile, proved forgettable. Other than an intriguing Clemson-Boston College showdown that revealed less than you probably believe — more on that below — Saturday featured a predictably bland Virginia Tech victory against Pittsburgh and a few other outcomes about as memorable as Tom Green’s acting career.

Needless to say, we need to put this past weekend behind us, as both students and football fans. If the reading days were structured to provide a last, refreshing breath before we plunge into the daunting second half of the semester, this past weekend of ACC football performed a similar function in an inverse way: it comprised a slew of games so dreary, and even nightmarish, that you can hardly help but feel enthused about the remaining season — especially about Florida State’s trip to Clemson this weekend.

I have no idea who will prevail Saturday, or whether the winner will eventually snag a spot in the BCS Championship game. But Lorde is it going to be fun watching these two ACC Royals battle for conference supremacy.

(You’re right, I’ve been here for too many fall breaks). Onto the rankings:

14. NC State (down 3)
Record: 3-3, 0-3 ACC
Last Week: L 24-10 vs. Syracuse
This Week: Bye

Consecutive double-digit losses to Wake Forest and Syracuse should carry a mandatory penalty of spending eight hours locked in a small cell with Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe as they furiously debate each other.

13. Virginia (down 1)
Record: 2-4, 0-2 ACC
Last Week: Nothing to see here
This Week: vs. Duke

On the bright side, this means the Cavaliers only would have lost to the Seminoles 64-0 by the transitive property.

12. Syracuse (up 2)

Record: 3-3, 1-1 ACC
Last Week: W 24-10 at N.C. State
This Week: at Georgia Tech

Terrel Hunt gashed the wolfpack with his legs Saturday, supplementing 100-yard rushing performances from Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley with 92 yards and a touchdown of his own. But did you know Hunt ranks third in the ACC in Total QBR, ahead of the Tajh Mahal himself? I’m confused, too.

11. North Carolina (up 2)
Record: 1-4, 0-2 ACC
Last Week: Bye
This Week: Vs. No. 10 Miami

Your weekly “thank goodness we didn’t play so we can rise in these all-important arbitrary rankings” winner.

10. Wake Forest (no change)
Record: 3-3, 1-2 ACC
Last Week: Bye
This Week: vs. Maryland

Wake Forest now has a legitimate shot to finagle a bowl appearance out of a thoroughly blah roster. The Demon Deacons still have Syracuse and Duke on the docket and stand a puncher’s chance of upending Maryland this weekend. Nobody cultivates nondescript success with as much panache as Jim Grobe.

9. Duke (no change)
Record: 4-2, 0-2 ACC
Last Week: W 35-7 vs. Navy
This Week: at Virginia

Thanks to a semi-heroic, 31-of-38 and three touchdown masterpiece from quarterback Anthony Boone in his return from an injury suffered in the season-opener, Duke clobbered Navy and finished 4-0 in its annual clutter of games against opponents so pedestrian, they’d probably jaywalk on University Avenue. Sadly, the Blue Devils may not complete that portion of the schedule until Saturday.

8. Pittsburgh (down 1)
Record: 3-2, 2-2 ACC
Last Week: L 19-9 at no. 24 Virginia tech
This Week: vs. Old Dominion
Pittsburgh’s offensive point totals, by game: 13, 49, 58, 14, 9. Granted, those figures reflect the relative strengths of the defenses the panthers have faced in 2013, but the oddsmakers who set over/under lines have to fear Pittsburgh as much as anyone watching tv in the early 2000s feared those Carrot Top commercials.

7. Boston College (up 1)
Record: 3-3, 1-2 ACC
Last Week: L 24-14 at No. 3 Clemson
This Week: Bye

The Eagles came within a few more stops and a few less turnovers of adding the cherry to what turned into a Bananas Foster of a weekend for Boston sports. Alex Amidon, meanwhile, has pulled nearly even with Michael Campanaro and Jamison Crowder in our intrepid watch for the Calvin Johnson Memorial Blue-Chip ACC Receiver Trapped on a Mediocre Offense of the Year Award after snagging six balls for 121 yards and a long score against Clemson.

6. Georgia Tech (down 1)
Record: 3-3, 2-2 ACC
Last Week: L 38-20 at BYU
This Week: vs. Syracuse

Given the rest of the week in Atlanta sports, an 18-point loss to a team on the other side of the country sounds almost like a victory. The schedule looks manageable for the Yellow Jackets until they visit Clemson Nov. 14.

5. Maryland (up 1)
Record: 5-1, 1-1 ACC
Last Week: W 27-26 vs. Virginia
This Week: at Wake Forest

You can forgive Maryland’s offense for stalling against the mutant cyborgs from Tallahassee last week and struggling at points against a decent Cavalier defense without C.J. Brown. That defense, however, is clearly not what those halcyon first four games suggested it could be. Getting shelled for 505 yards by the Virginia juggernaut hardly instills confidence going forward.

4. No. 19 Virginia Tech (no change)
Record: 6-1, 3-0 ACC
Last Week: W 19-9 vs. Pittsburgh
This Week: Bye

Keep your ugly, but undeniably and infuriatingly strong brand of defensive football out of my NASCAR, Frank Beamer.

3. No. 13 Miami (no change)
Record: 5-0, 1-0 ACC
Last Week: Bye
This Week: At North Carolina

I still have a nagging notion that the Hurricanes blow it against North Carolina, so go ahead and bet about a year’s tuition on Duke Johnson pirouetting and prancing his way into the Tar Heel end zone about eight times Thursday night.

1.5. No. 6 Florida State (no change)
Record: 5-0, 3-0 ACC
Last Result: Bye
This Week: At No. 3 Clemson

Point: Clemson barely fended off Chase Rettig last time out. Florida State obliterated a top-25 outfit by nine touchdowns. Also, Jameis Winston.

1. No. 3 Clemson (no change)
Record: 6-0, 4-0 ACC
Last Week: W 24-14 vs. BC
This Week: vs. No. 6 Florida State

Counterpoint: When it mattered, the Tigers girded up and closed out a Boston College team with far more talent than most people realize, in a trap game only the most Saban-esque would refrain from overlooking. Clemson already ousted Georgia when the Dawgs clung to some semblance of health, and get to host a freshman quarterback facing his first true test.

Buckle up, everyone. Our post fall break football lives are starting with a jolt.

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