Each week, the TNIAAM football staff will be ranking all 14 ACC teams in a completely subjective manner, just like everyone else on the internet. Feel like we're completely off base? Chime in with your own ACC power rankings below.
Just when we thought we figured out what was going to happen in the ACC, Florida State goes and buries Clemson in the ground in Death Valley. Of course, the possibility was there that FSU could win, but like that? Now firmly in control of the conference, and among a handful of favorites to play for a National Championship, the 'Noles officially run things in the ACC. It's a scary new reality, but one which we're happy to dive into below...
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1. Florida State Seminoles (6-0) (4-0) (LW: 2)
Last Week: W, 51-14 over Clemson; Next Week: vs. NC State
Highest Position: 1; Lowest Position: 1
Saturday's display was a demolition derby that very few could have predicted, and it shakes up the entire picture of the ACC. If it had been a close game, fine. But by beating Clemson by 37, Florida State changes the narrative completely. Jameis Winston is now a Heisman front-runner. The 'Noles are now a National Championship contender. And the conference is theirs to lose over the season's final six games (seven with the league title game). I'm already wishing we could just skip that trip down to Tallahassee...
2. Miami Hurricanes (6-0) (2-0) (LW: 3)
Last Week: W, 27-23 over North Carolina; Next Week: vs. Wake Forest
Highest Position: 2; Lowest Position: 3
The Hurricanes almost fell victim to the first big upset of the weekend, but managed to pull out a very tight victory over North Carolina instead. Their underwhelming effort would've likely swept them out of the national top 10 if not for the bevy of upsets we saw on Saturday. Now, they're surprisingly well positioned for a huge matchup with FSU in a few weeks and even a potential BCS berth.
3. Clemson Tigers (6-1) (3-1) (LW: 1)
Last Week: L, 51-14 to Florida State; Next Week: at Maryland
Highest Position: 2; Lowest Position:4
That defeat was the absolute worst thing that could've happened to Clemson. Getting embarrassed on national television made them look like a sham to this point, and even adds some extra insult to the Tigers' win over Syracuse too. Of course, Clemson's not suddenly some mediocre program, and the transitive property doesn't apply to any sport. But to see a team that ran through the Orange get beat like that is extremely unsettling to the state of SU's program.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies (6-1) (3-0) (LW: 4)
Last Week: BYE; Next Week: vs. Duke
Highest Position: 3; Lowest Position: 4
Tech enjoyed a bye week, though due to losses all around the top of the national rankings, they actually gained some major ground as well. With a very manageable slate ahead, a dominant defense and one true test left on the schedule (Miami), the Hokies could very well be setting themselves up for another trip to the ACC Championship Game and maybe another BCS trip, too.
5. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-3) (3-2) (LW: 8)
Last Week: W, 56-0 over Georgia Tech; Next Week: at Virginia
Highest Position: 5; Lowest Position: 6
I never want to see Georgia Tech on a football field with Syracuse again. The triple-option was a death hammer, just continually bludgeoning an ill-prepared SU team 'till there was nothing left. For the Yellow Jackets, the big victory also allows them to refocus on the positives of this season. At 4-3, they're well positioned to get back to the postseason and possibly extend Paul Johnson's stay as head coach another season.
6. Pittsburgh Panthers (4-2) (2-2) (LW: 6)
Last Week: W, 35-24 over Old Dominion; Next Week: at Navy
Highest Position: 5; Lowest Position: 6
I still don't get this team, and I doubt anyone really does. They've won four contests against lackluster competition and looked miserable against the only two quality opponents they've faced (FSU and Virginia Tech). So what are they? The Navy game next week fails to clear much up, but if they end up with seven or eight wins, does it really matter? Perhaps Syracuse should take a page out of the Panthers' scheduling book.
7. Boston College Eagles (3-3) (1-2) (LW: 9)
Last Week: BYE; Next Week: at North Carolina
Highest Position: 7; Lowest Position: 10
The Eagles have the benefit of having FSU and Clemson on the backburner, so the remainder of their schedule is much less soul-sucking than it is for teams like SU. Obviously this team gets by on a strong running game, but what to make of the defense? It holds the key to whether BC goes bowling or not, and yet I'm still curious what we'll see from them from game-to-game.
8. Duke Blue Devils (5-2) (1-2) (LW: 10)
Last Week: W, 35-22 over Virginia; Next Week: vs. Georgia Tech
Highest Position: 7; Lowest Position: 9
So despite everyone believing Duke to be weaker than last year's iteration, this one's just one win away from another trip to the postseason. Now, the defense is even worse than last year's version, while the schedule is weaker. But whether it's Anthony Boone or Brandon Connette, the Blue Devils have just found a way to consistently put points on the board all season.
9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3) (2-2) (LW: 11)
Last Week: W, 34-10 over Maryland; Next Week: at Miami
Highest Position: 7; Lowest Position: 10
Hey, remember that Deacons team we thought would be sitting at the bottom of the conference standings? That's over and done with. Wake's put up a combined 62 points over the last two games (both wins) and suddenly has a potent offensive attack. Tanner Price looks like the quarterback everyone just assumed he'd mature into one day and that makes them a scary opponent going forward.
T-10. Maryland Terrapins (5-2) (1-2) (LW: 5)
Last Week: L, 34-10 to Wake Forest; Next Week: vs. Clemson
Highest Position: 9; Lowest Position: 12
Moving in the opposite direction of Wake is Maryland, however. After a hot start, injuries have caused the Terps to crash and burn in ACC play, struggling to beat UVA and getting waxed by both Florida State and the Deacons. C.J. Brown's been out, but when he returns, it'll be without his top two targets. With Deon Long and Stefon Diggs gone for the season, this squad's about to drop like a rock.
T-10. Syracuse Orange (3-4) (1-2) (LW: 7)
Last Week: L, 56-0 to Georgia Tech; Next Week: BYE
Highest Position: 7; Lowest Position: 11
Oof. I mean, that was horrendous. And even worse than the on-field result of a loss to Georgia Tech is the perception hit this program takes as a result of losing that badly. As we've discussed here numerous times, everyone rewinds to the Gerg days and we have to start over in terms of repairing opinions. That takes wins, which at this point, are no sure thing when looking at the five remaining games.
12. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-5) (0-3) (LW: 13)
Last Week: W, 27-24 over Miami; Next Week: vs. Boston College
Highest Position: 11; Lowest Position: 13
If Carolina had pulled off the win over Miami on Thursday, perhaps they alter the narrative of their season. But with a loss -- regardless of how close it may have been -- the Tar Heels' year is in peril. The second half of the schedule lays out well enough for them to earn six wins, but that's not the goal for this team. If you'll recall, they were once a darkhorse ACC champ, so .500 just isn't going to cut it.
13. NC State Wolfpack (3-3) (0-3) (LW: 12)
Last Week: BYE; Next Week: at Florida State
Highest Position: 12; Lowest Position: 13
Brandon Mitchell's supposed to be back against Florida State, but that's not going to matter much. The 'Noles have proven themselves to be absolutely terrifying and no quarterback will be able to help the Wolfpack win that game. State's in danger of losing a lot of games if they don't sort out both of their offensive and defensive issues, and it'll be interesting to see how these things are addressed in the coming weeks.
14. Virginia Cavaliers (2-5) (0-3) (LW: 14)
Last Week: L, 35-22 to Duke; Next Week: vs. Georgia Tech
Highest Position: 14; Lowest Position: 14
At least Syracuse can take solace in not being the team that dresses like them on the field. Virginia's in freefall as a program and the "strong recruiting numbers" argument is starting to wear thin for Mike London and his coaching staff -- especially considering those players haven't performed very well at all. Could this team go 2-10? Yes. Yes they can. And if they do, that means London is finished in Charlottesville.