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#GoACC Power Rankings: Week 8

In a move that should have come awhile ago, Florida State was demoted from No. 1 to No. 2 in both the media and coaches polls — because no #GoACC team we’ve seen this year should ever be ranked No. 1 overall, at least on the basis of football performance. On the basis of worst dancing coach, comedic relief or number of police cover-ups, however? No other conference can compete with us!

1. No. 2 Florida State (no change)

Record: 6-0, 4-0 ACC

Last Week: 38-20 W @ Syracuse

This Week: vs. No. 5 Notre Dame

With their win at Syracuse last week, the Seminoles are officially bowl eligible. What bowl they will go to, though, is still very much up in the air.

Jameis Winston will continue to play while he goes through Florida State’s judiciary hearing process. His hearing, however, along with media reports detailing cover-ups by the Tallahassee and Florida State Police Departments for crimes allegedly committed by Florida State football players, continue to hover over the team like a toxic cloud.

It’s not exactly an ideal time for this scandal to continue escalating, as the ‘Noles host their toughest competition of the season this week in Notre Dame — but then again, when is a good time for a scandal?

2. Clemson (no change)

Record: 4-2, 3-1 ACC

Last Week: 23-17 W vs. Louisville

This Week: @ Boston College

Just as quickly as true freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson burst onto the scene for Clemson, he was gone. Watson broke his hand in the second quarter against Louisville, forcing senior Cole Stoudt back into action.

The game featured rather miserable showings from both offenses and some late-game heroics from the Tiger defense. Clemson’s defense made a fourth down stand at its own two-yard line by swatting away a Will Gardner pass to seal the win, while senior defensive end Vic Beasley notched his school-record 29th career sack earlier in the game.

Other than South Carolina, Clemson’s remaining schedule isn’t particularly daunting. However, the Tigers’ hopes for a major bowl took a substantial hit with Watson’s injury, as well as this vine:

3. Virginia (up 1)

Record: 4-2, 2-0 ACC

Last Week: Bye

This Week: @ Duke

All alone atop the ACC Coastal, the Cavaliers are in the driver’s seat for an ACC Championship berth. But no game remaining on the schedule is an “easy” win, particularly after North Carolina played Notre Dame to one touchdown and Duke responded from a loss to Miami by beating Georgia Tech, the only ranked ACC at the time besides Florida State.

Unlike the rather clear divide in the ACC Atlantic, any Coastal team can beat another on any given Saturday — well illustrated by Vegas pegging Virginia as a 2.5-point underdog at Duke this Saturday. So though Virginia is undefeated in the conference thus far, that means very little unless the Cavaliers continue to bring their lunch pails to work every weekend.

4. Duke (up 3)

Record: 5-1, 1-1 ACC

Last Week: 31-25 W @ No. 22 Georgia Tech

This Week: vs. Virginia

Just when you thought they were out, they pulled you back in! I hadn’t completely written the Blue Devils off following a loss to Miami, but Duke did not appear to be quite the same team that won 10 games and the Coastal Division last season. But the Blue Devils flipped the script, going to Atlanta and beating Georgia Tech for the first time in 10 years.

Senior quarterback Anthony Boone was not prolific, but was considerably more consistent than he was against Miami, managing the game and not turning the ball over while his offense ran for 242 yards and his defense notched three takeaways.

Duke hosts Virginia this week, and a win would vault the Blue Devils into a tie for first place atop the division. But against an opportunistic Cavalier defense, Boone will again have to keep his turnovers to a minimum or his team will likely turn in a performance similar to its Miami game.

5. Georgia Tech (down 2)

Record: 5-1, 2-1 ACC

Last Week: 31-25 L vs. Duke

This Week: @ North Carolina

Georgia Tech bested Duke in nearly every statistical category except the two that decide games — turnovers and points. If this were last week, then Georgia Tech would have an easy win this week against North Carolina. But now even this week looks like a tough test for the Ramblin’ Wreck, which is looking to return to the ACC title game after being unseated by Duke last year.

6. Louisville (down 1)

Record: 5-2, 3-2 ACC

Last Week: 23-17 L @ Clemson

This Week: vs. NC State

Well, it seems like Mike London’s penchant for playing two quarterbacks is catching on around the ACC. Even veteran coach Bobby Petrino couldn’t resist, rotating sophomore Will Gardner, who was coming off an ankle injury, with freshman Reggie Bonnafon, who put forth a pair of decidedly average games as a starter in Gardner’s absence.

After years of watching a two-quarterback system I have just one thing to say to Louisville fans: May the college football gods help you, my friends.

7. Virginia Tech (down 1)

Record: 4-2, 1-1 ACC

Last Week: Bye

This Week: @ Pittsburgh

I think the Hokies can compete with any team ranked No. 3 and down on this list, when healthy. But with senior defensive tackle Luther Maddy and freshman running back Marshawn Williams out and “very doubtful,” respectively, this week against Pitt, Virginia Tech is missing huge pieces on both offense and defense.

Between the two, the Hokies may miss Maddy the most as they try to stop James Conner, one of the ACC’s most prolific running backs this year. Neither program can truly afford to lose any more conference games to remain in contention for the Coastal crown, but Virginia Tech must travel to Heinz Field on Thursday night, immediately followed by another Thursday night game at Lane Stadium.

8. Pittsburgh (no change)

Record: 3-3, 1-1 ACC

Last Week: Bye

This Week: vs. Virginia Tech

Pittsburgh is coming off a bye this week, so the Panthers should be well rested for Thursday night at home. The Panthers may also play star sophomore running back James Conner at defensive end at points, an interesting wrinkle to attack Virginia Tech junior quarterback Michael Brewer, who has looked shaky in recent weeks. The game should be hotly contested, for the postseason implications mentioned above.

9. Miami (no change)

Record: 4-3, 1-2 ACC

Last Week: 55-34 W vs. Cincinnati

This Week: Bye

No matter how much Virginia players and media complain about Scott Stadium’s lagging attendance, it is nothing compared to this:

Miami has posted a few solid wins this year and its losses have all come against quality teams, and as I wrote about last week, tickets for this game were available for less than $1! This is a historic college football program that isn’t having an awful year all things considered, and people won’t pay $1 to go watch them play?

Anyone who saw them beat Cincinnati sure got their money’s worth. Freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya had arguably his best game yet, throwing three touchdowns and no picks, while Duke Johnson and Joseph Yearby each rushed for more than 100 yards.

10. Boston College (no change)

Record: 4-2, 1-1 ACC

Last Week: 30-14 W @ NC State

This Week: vs. No. 24 Clemson

Boston College is a 6.5-point underdog against visiting Clemson, but stranger things have happened in Chestnut Hill this season — just ask Southern California. Following a strong showing against NC State, senior quarterback Tyler Murphy and the Eagles may be poised to knock off the Tigers, who lost their apparent quarterback of the future to a broken hand last week against Louisville.

11. North Carolina (up 2)

Record: 2-4, 0-2 ACC

Last Week: 50-43 L @ No. 6 Notre Dame

This Week: vs. Georgia Tech

I usually don’t support moving teams up after they lose, and especially after their defense forfeits 50 points, but the Tar Heels’ effort last week against Notre Dame was impressive (at first I thought the box score must have been a mistake, for like 50-4.3 or something).

But as my grandpa always said, “Close, but no cigar.” So while I appreciate North Carolina’s effort — particularly the monstrous performance from junior quarterback Marquise Williams — close will not be good enough for Larry Fedora to keep his job at year's end. It will be interesting to see if Williams can rally his team to edge out a gritty win against the Yellow Jackets — a win which would throw the balance of power in the Coastal Division into serious disarray.

12. North Carolina State (down 1)

Record: 4-3, 0-3 ACC

Last Week: 30-14 L vs. Boston College

This Week: @ Louisville

NC State is 0-11 in the ACC under coach Dave Doeren after last week’s loss at home to Boston College. As they are currently projected by the Worldwide Leader to make the BITCOIN St. Petersburg Bowl — formerly sponsored by Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, for us traditionalists — it appears that ESPN believes Doeren’s conference winless streak will end at some point in the next month.

With a lack of offense AND defense, NC State may need to rely on its special teams or the general ineptitude of its opponents to win two more games for bowl eligibility. The good part for NC State is that Syracuse, Wake Forest and North Carolina are all incompetent enough to lose games as long as the Wolfpack stays out of their respective ways.

13. Syracuse (down 1)

Record: 2-4, 0-2 ACC

Last Week: 38-20 L vs. No. 1 Florida State

This Week: @ Wake Forest

With starting senior quarterback Terrel Hunt out 4-6 weeks with a broken fibula, it’s surprising the Orange even managed 20 points against the Seminoles.

Before the team’s matchup with Florida State, coach Scott Shafer demoted Syracuse’s offensive coordinator George McDonald, promoting quarterbacks coach Tim Lester in his stead. After freshman A.J. Long and sophomore Austin Wilson combined to throw two touchdowns and three interceptions in the game, the team’s offense has the Orange looking like low-hanging fruit, ripe for Wake Forest to pick for its first win conference.

14. Wake Forest (no change)

Record: 2-4, 0-2 ACC

Last Week: Bye

This Week: vs. Syracuse

There’s really not much left to say here. It was too bad that Wake Forest had a bye last week, as it prevented any opportunity for the Deacs to further embarrass the league — on the field, at least. The Demon Deacons do have a winnable game this week against Syracuse, which must be a relief after playing Florida State and Louisville in their last two games.

15. No. 5 Notre Dame (no change)

Record: 6-0

Last Week: 50-43 W vs. North Carolina

This Week: @ No. 2 Florida State

Notre Dame will remain in last place on this list until the Irish just join the conference already. Ball’s in your court, Swarbrick.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the Virginia Tech v. Pittsburgh matchup would be held in Blacksburg, rather than in Pittsburgh.