Jim Young re-ranks the ACC's 14 football teams after the 13th week of the season.
NO. 1 FLORIDA STATE
Florida loss to Georgia Southern last week. Four-loss, FCS Georgia Southern. So yeah, forgive me if I'm not feeling this rivalry game right now.
I am, however, watching this video over and over and over ...
Record: 11-0, 8-0 ACC
Previous Rank: 1
Last week: Beat Idaho 80-14
This week: Saturday, noon at Florida
NO. 2 CLEMSON
I grew up in the Palmetto State, so trust me when I tell you that Clemson's four-game losing streak to South Carolina is a VERY big deal. Enough so that it casts a shadow over all the impressive things Dabo Swinney has done with the program, particularly in the last three seasons.
When I was a kid, South Carolina was the team with all the well-known skill players - Sterling Sharpe, Todd Ellis, Robert Brooks, etc. - and Clemson was the team that wasn't fancy but was way more physical. Those identities have essentially flipped in the last four seasons. The Tigers need to get closer to break even in the physicality category - and that means slowing down Gamecock running back Mike Davis in particular - if it wants to snap its losing streak to South Carolina ... and pretty much lock up a BCS at-large bid.
Record: 10-1, 7-1 ACC
Previous Rank: 2
Last week: Won 52-6 over The Citadel
This week: Saturday, 7 p.m. at South Carolina
NO. 3 DUKE
Is Duke good enough now that I can actually start nit-picking the Blue Devils after they win? I ... I ... think I can.
The Blue Devils' phenomenal ability to finish games has helped them dig their way out of early deficits against Miami (17-7) and Wake Forest (14-0). But neither of those teams was able to press its advantage. The Canes shot themselves in the foot (with Stephen Morris and offensive coordinator James Coley both pulling the trigger) and the Demon Deacons simply weren't talented enough to keep a good thing going.
North Carolina? It's got the talent. And the Tar Heels seem to have put their foot-shooting days from earlier this season behind them. So, I'd suggest coming out of the gates a little faster in Chapel Hill, Duke.
Record: 9-2, 5-2 ACC
Previous Rank: 3
Last Week: Won 28-12 at Wake Forest
This Week: Saturday, noon at North Carolina
NO. 4 NORTH CAROLINA
So a week after I meticulously put together a formula to determine teams 4-8 in my ACC Power Rankings, I'm pretty much ignoring the whole thing and going with my gut. What can I say? Other than #goacc, of course.
But the whole formula thing was evidence that those five teams were closely bunched and thus, could be moved around again with just a slight shift in the ACC ways of the world. So there. I'm TOTALLY justified in putting the Tar Heels at No. 4.
Is this a reward for putting up 80 points on Old Dominion? No. In fact, it still makes me uncomfortable to think of ace punt returner Ryan Switzer (interview right here, folks!) doing his thing when the score was already 73-20.
But putting aside the wanton slaughter in that game, it did provide more proof of a sneaking suspicion I'd had for some time: Marquise Williams is a better fit for Larry Fedora's offense than Bryn Renner was. The more comfortable Williams gets, the more explosive the Tar Heels become.
And yeah ... that latest Switzer punt return was pretty awesome.
(Best part of that highlight? The analyst saying "This game has gotten a little out of hand." You think so, doctor?)
Record: 6-5, 4-3 ACC
Previous Rank: 7
Last Week: Won 80-20 over Old Dominion
This Week: Saturday, noon vs. Duke
NO. 5 MIAMI
I almost dropped the Hurricanes because they gave up nearly 500 yards of offense to Virgina ... VIRGINIA!!!
But in reality, the much more important numbers for Miami were 4 and 28. As in, four forced turnovers that were turned into 28 points. Two of them were actually defensive touchdowns. The two scores came after drives of just 37 and 16 yards, respectively.
So naturally, Virginia had the ball a whooooole lot more than Miami, which got back to its big-play ways on both sides of the ball.
Still, gonna need more than 90 yards rushing against Pitt.
Record: 8-3, 5-3 ACC
Previous Rank: 5
Last week: Won 45-26 over Virginia
This week: Friday, 3:30 p.m. at Pitt
NO. 6 GEORGIA TECH
The Yellow Jackets beat Alabama A&M 66-7. Hooray. Now on to more important matters.
Georgia is vulnerable. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 30 nationally in rushing defense, but those stats are a bit misleading. Against talented teams that make the run a priority, the Bulldogs have been gashed: 197 yards against Clemson, 226 against South Carolina, 323 against Auburn.
Oh, and Aaron Murray won't be playing, after suffering an ACL injury.
I'd strongly, strongly suggest taking advantage of this opportunity, Paul Johnson.
Record: 7-4, 5-3 ACC
Previous Rank: 6
Last Week: Won 66-7 over Alabama A&M
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. vs. Georgia
NO. 7 BOSTON COLLEGE
I'll admit. I'm a little bummed.
Just when I came up with the genius of the #Andre2000 hashtag, he goes and runs for 263 more yards, blowing past 2000 (he now has 2,073 for the season) and inserting himself into the Heisman race. (Heck, I voted him No. 2 in the latest Athlon Sports Heisman straw poll). So now Boston College media relations has started up an #Andre44Heisman instead.
Look, I get it but ... c'mon. #Andre2000!!!! It sings!
Siggh. Whatever. But if Williams comes up short in the Heisman race, don't come crying to me.
On a serious note, Williams in the last three games has rushed for 957 yards. The second-highest rushing total for the SEASON in the ACC is 926, from Virginia's Kevin Parks.
Good ... lord.
Record: 7-4, 7-3 ACC
Previous Rank: 8
Last Week: Won 29-26 at Maryland
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Syracuse
NO. 8 VIRGINIA TECH
The Hokies were No. 4 last week, had a bye, and yet dropped four places in these power rankings. You're welcome for the motivational material, Frank Beamer.
I didn't sour on the Hokies, I swear. (Okay, I've soured a little lately). It's just that those other four teams that were part of last week's five-team cluster all improved their lot a little bit in the past week. So it was really more that they moved up than that you moved down, Hokies.
You're not buying it, are you?
Fine then. Losing Kyle Fuller for the regular season finale hurt your cause. You happy now?
Record: 7-4, 4-3 ACC
Previous Rank: 4
Last week: Bye
This week: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Virginia
NO. 9 PITT
It's fitting that the Panthers got a crucial win at Syracuse and became bowl eligible thanks to a blocked extra point by Aarron Donald.
Donald has been awesome in relative anonymity at Pitt this season, but that will change. He's a finalist for the Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski and Outland Awards. Heck, I even put him in my top-five on my latest Heisman straw poll vote.
The guy has TWENTY-SIX TACKLES FOR A LOSS!!!!! (The next closest national total is 20.5) OVER HALF HIS TACKLES COME BEHIND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE.
Okay, I'll stop yelling. Just watch this highlight collection from Donald's game at Georgia Tech, in which he had SIX TACKLES FOR A LOSS!!!!!
Record: 6-5 overall, 3-4 ACC
Previous Rank: 10
Last Week: Won 17-16 at Syracuse
This Week: Friday, 3:30 p.m. vs. Miami
NO. 10 MARYLAND
So ... this is going to get awkward, isn't it?
As ESPN's Heather Dinich pointed out last week, the ACC bowl picture is crowded. Nay, overcrowded. The league has eight bowl tie-ins and now has 10 bowl-eligible teams. Syracuse could make it 11 teams if it knocks off Boston College this weekend.
You see where I'm going with this, don't you? I think the chances Maryland gets an invite to one of those eight bowls is pre-tty, pre-tty slim.
Record: 6-5, 2-5 ACC
Previous Rank: 9
Last Week: Lost 29-26 to Boston College
This Week: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. at N.C. State
NO. 11 SYRACUSE
Man, that loss to Pitt had to sting. The Orange held the Panthers to just 239 yards. But the aforementioned blocked extra point by Aaron Donald - and then a missed 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, did in Syracuse.
Now the Orange has to beat a hot Boston College team to become bowl eligible.
Here's a tip - key on Andre Williams.
Along those lines, Syracuse has held three of its last four opponents under 100 yards rushing. The one exception - Florida State - is pretty much the exception to everything in this league right now.
Record: 5-6, 3-4 ACC
Previous Rank: 11
Last Week: Lost 17-16 to Pitt
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 vs. Boston College
NO. 12 WAKE FOREST
Five straight losing seasons. No bowl this year. Two straight losses to Duke. Duke now on the upswing overall, getting that feel-good story vibe that used to be Wake's thing. And no Campanaro.
Okay, this is too dark and depressing. Let's lighten things up a bit.
How about Nikita Whitlock doing a belly flop?
Record: 4-7, 2-6 ACC
Previous Rank: 12
Last Week: Lost 28-21 to Duke
This Week: Saturday, 12:20 at Vanderbilt
NO. 13 N.C. STATE
Man, this part of the power rankings is getting dark and depressing.
So again, let's look for some positives, shall we. The Wolfpack scored touchdowns on its final three possessions against ECU! State recovered an onside kick! Brandon Mitchell threw four touchdowns!
This team's getting its offense going just in time to ruin Maryland's final ACC regular season game!
(Glosses over the fact that ECU led 35-7 heading into the fourth quarter)
Record: 3-8, 0-7 ACC
Previous Rank: 13
Last Week: Lost 42-28 to ECU
This Week: Saturday, 12:30 vs. Maryland
NO. 14 VIRGINIA
Ahh, the Charlottesville Quarterback Carousel is open for business once again!
And this time I'll argue it should have opened earlier.
I know, I know, I was hard on Mike London last year for failing to commit to a QB. But this time around, he committed to a QB - David Watford - who simply hasn't been very good.
Now granted, maybe backup Grayson Lambert has shown no signs in practice that he was ready to be less ineffective than Watford. Still, at some point don't you throw something against the proverbial QB wall and hope it'll stick?
I guess London finally reached that point this week ... in the final game of the season.
Record: 2-9 (0-7 ACC)
Previous Rank: 14
Last Week: 45-26 at Miami
This Week: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. vs. Virginia Tech