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ACC Power Rankings - Week 12

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Louisville falters, top teams shine and the Power Rankings begin to firm up.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This week, football really doesn’t exist outside of the state of South Carolina. As we prepare you for the annual matchup between Clemson and South Carolina, we aren’t going to drop the ball with what is going on in the rest of the conference! If these rankings look somewhat familiar to you, well, they are. With the exception of a shake up towards the bottom of the conference, the Power Rankings seem to be pretty well set with only a few things to be decided during rivalry week where there can be some serious shakeup. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any controversy though. Be sure to sound off in the comments below as to where you think the teams in the ACC stack up.

#1 Clemson Tigers (10-1, 7-1) Last Week – W, @ Wake Forest (35-13)

Movement from Week 11 – (No Change)

Clemson needed to respond this week, and that is exactly what they did. Clemson managed to wrap up the ACC Atlantic Division Title in a dominating performance on the road at Wake Forest. The week after suffering their first loss of the season in a pass-happy performance, Clemson managed to return to a more balanced offense as Wayne Gallman gashed a good Demon Deacon defense for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries. The committee has stated that there isn’t a lot of separation between #2 and #5 in the current CFP rankings, and with the weakest remaining schedule remaining of the 4 teams, Clemson will need to repeat this performance in the upcoming weeks to ensure its position.

#2 Louisville Cardinals (9-2, 7-1) Last Week – L, @ Houston (36-10)

Movement from Week 11 – (No Change)

Luckily for the Cardinals, they had built themselves up a nice cushion in this #2 slot because they were absolutely waxed this week down in Houston. Louisville wasn’t ready for this game from the opening whistle as they fumbled the opening kickoff and were behind almost immediately. Lamar Jackson was below average as he rushed for a season low 33 yards, and managed only 211 passing yards, almost exclusively in the 2nd half. Last week we questioned Louisville’s ability to win on the road against quality opponents, and that looks to be the case. Although they are 4-2 on the road this season, 3 came against Marshall, Syracuse and Boston College. Both losses came on the road along with the miracle win in Charlottesville. Louisville has lost focus several times this season, and they need to beware going up against Kentucky as Coach Petrino will have to motivate them as they have all but officially been ruled out of the College Football Playoff.

#3 Florida State Seminoles (8-3, 5-3) Last Week – W, @ Syracuse (45-14)

Movement from Week 11 - (No Change)

You have heard me say it before and I’ll go ahead and say it again, Dalvin Cook is the best running back in the country. Cook ran absolutely wild up in New York grabbing 4 touchdowns and 225 yards rushing and in the process, became Florida States all-time leading rusher and only the 6th running back in ACC history to rush for over 4,000 yards in a career. The only wrinkle in a dominate performance on the road were 4 turnovers for the Noles, but it didn’t matter much against an overmatched Syracuse team. Florida State has had to deal with a lot of background noise as, once again, Jimbo Fishers name seems to be tied to every high-profile coaching vacancy in the country. I’m sure this will continue with the recent vacancy at Texas, but I am once again impressed with the resolve of the Seminoles and a victory over Florida may have them closing in on the #2 spot in our final rankings.

#4 North Carolina Tar Heels (8-3, 5-2) Last Week – W, vs. The Citadel (41-7)

Movement from Week 11 - (No Change)

When North Carolina scheduled this game, I’m fairly certain that they weren’t expecting to welcome an undefeated 10-win football team into Chapel Hill. This game was flat out weird. When someone tells you that numbers don’t lie, you can point squarely to this game. The Citadel outgained UNC 371 to 356, held time of possession for 42:25 and had 6 more first downs that UNC and the Tar Heels…won comfortably?? Turnovers my friends, turnovers. Carolina forced 4 turnovers (including their first interception of the year) and they cashed in on the short fields. Mitch Trubisky completed only 11-of-20 passes for 184 yards, but threw 3 TD’s as the yardage didn’t mean much today. North Carolina is the best team in the Coastal, but will have to wait and see if Virginia can upend rival Virginia Tech (which isn’t as far-fetched as you are thinking. Don’t give out that trophy just yet).

#5 Virginia Tech Hokies (8-3 5-2) Last Week – W, @ Notre Dame (34-31)

Movement from Week 11 – (No Change)

This is another sub-par performance from the Coastal leading Hokies. I know all that matters are wins in college football, but this is the third mediocre performance in a row from this football team which has me further questioning them. I will say this, Notre Dame did have a lot to play for, as they were trying to avoid their first losing season since 2007 and as a result, they jumped out to an early 17-0 lead. Virginia Tech can thank their defense for the second half comeback as they held the Fighting Irish to only 150 yards in total offense in the 2nd half. Virginia Tech needs to hope that their nine lives haven’t run out as they head into a matchup with rival Virginia in the last game of the regular season, with a chance to punch their ticket to the ACC Championship game.

#6 – Pittsburgh Panthers (7-4, 4-3) Last Week – W, vs. Duke (54-14)

Movement from Week 11 - (No Change)

There is one thing that we can all agree on, and that is that everybody has been rooting for James Conner all season. In the third quarter, Conner pushed his way into the end zone for a 1 yard touchdown run which made him the ACC’s all time rushing TD leader with 50 touchdowns, breaking the mark held by Ted Brown of NC State since 1978. We can’t take much from a Duke team that threw out an absolute dud on Saturday, but Pittsburgh’s defense wasn’t terrible today. Pittsburgh looks to be one of the hottest teams in the country heading into bowl season and they will be looked upon to hand the ACC a victory.

#7 Miami Hurricanes (7-4, 4-3) Last Week – W, @ NC State (27-13)

Movement from Week 11 - (No Change)

It may not look impressive on paper, but this was a solid win for Miami because of the circumstances that the game was played in. Say what you will about NC State and the quality of their team, the one thing that you cannot criticize is their rushing defense. In fact, going into Saturday, they were the 7th best in the nation. If I told you that Brad Kayaa would play only average in this game, I would expect NC State to come out on top. After bottling up the run game in the first half, Mark Walton had decided that he had enough. Walton ripped off 3 rushing touchdowns and racking up 120 yards in the Hurricane victory. Miami will look to salvage their season after a mid-season 4 game losing streak put them away after being ranked in the top 10.

#8 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-4, 4-4) Last Week – W, vs. Virginia (31-17)

Movement from Week 11 - (No Change)

Say what you want about the triple-option. It may be boring, but it is an offense of mismatches that really hinges on the ability to make big plays when you have the numbers. Georgia Tech came out very slow after their biggest win of the year, but got the big plays that it needed late in order to put away the Cavaliers and claim their 7th victory of the season. All three of Tech’s offensive touchdowns went for more than 50 yards before a late pick six put the game away for good. Georgia Tech has quietly won 5 of their last 6 games and only rival Georgia stands in their way of another 8-win season.

#9 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-5, 3-4) Last Week – L, vs. #4 Clemson (35-13)

Movement from Week 11 – (No Change)

There is never really a good time to host the #4 ranked team in the country, especially when you are in a bit of a slide, but could the Demon Deacon’s luck get any worse? Clemson came into this contest knowing that they needed a victory to clinch the Atlantic Division and before you could blink, it was 21-0. Although it was a dominant performance by the Tigers, I was very impressed with how Wake Forest reacted to that 21-0 lead. A lot of teams would have taken their ball and gone home, but Wake Forest threw some punches of their own. With a Field Goal and a Cade Carney touchdown run, Wake Forest made the game respectable until Clemson put them away for good late. That response will keep them in the #9 spot after a decisive loss.

#10 – NC State Wolfpack (5-6, 2-5) Last Week – L, vs. Miami (27-13)

Movement from Week 11 - (+1)

NC State held on for as long as they could on Saturday with their defense and gave the ball to their offense time and time again begging them to take the wheel and put the game away. Unfortunately for the pack, the offense didn’t answer the call. After entering the half deadlocked in a 3-3 tie, the NC State defense ran out of gas and allowed Miami to pull away as they were outscored 24-3 in the 2nd half. Dayes was held under the century mark with only 76 yards rushing which means that the Wolfpack simply had no chance. NC State will need a win against rival North Carolina in their season finale to become bowl eligible.

#11 – Syracuse Orange (4-7, 2-5) Last Week – L, vs. #17 Florida State (45-14)

Movement from Week 11 - (+1)

No Dungey, no chance. Believe it or not, this game was actually a lot uglier than the score presents it to be. Syracuse put up what I consider to be the worst defensive performance of the year allowing 654 yards and 34 first downs on the day. Now we have seen numbers like this before, so what makes this defensive performance so different? Florida State managed to chip in with 4 turnovers or these numbers would be A LOT worse. It looks like Dino Babers may need to focus a little more on the defensive side of the ball if this team wants to get any better.

#12 – Duke Blue Devils (4-7, 1-6) Last Week – L, @ Pittsburgh (56-14)

Movement from Week 11 - (-2)

I think that we can officially call it basketball season down in Durham. The game plan for going up against a team like Pittsburgh is simple. Throw the ball down field over and over again. They are the 127th ranked passing defense in the nation after all. Duke had absolutely zero luck downfield as Daniel Jones completed only 28-of-46 throws for 248 yards. On top of that, Duke managed only 25 rushing yards for the entire game. An ugly performance from an ugly season will end next week in Miami.

#13 –Virginia Cavaliers (2-9, 1-6) Last Week – L, @ Georgia Tech (31-17)

Movement from Week 11 – (No Change)

Not the performance I expected from the Cavaliers, but from their record, maybe it is what I should have expected all along. It has been the same old song and dance for Virginia all season as they have sucked me in with a strong first half performance, only to fail to finish and get put away in the 2nd half week after week. ESPN reports that the Cavs have been outscored in the second half 183-114 and you just aren’t going to win ball games like that. Luckily for the Cavs, their season comes to an end next week against rival Virginia Tech, where they will look to play the ultimate spoiler and knock the Hokies out of the ACC Championship game.

#14 – Boston College Eagles (5-6, 1-6) Last Week – W, vs. Connecticut (30-0)

Movement from Week 11 - (No Change)

Well, it looks like Patrick Towles was the one reading the power rankings this week and decided to shut me up. Towles played the best game of the season in his final home game as an Eagle, throwing for 183 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles waxed the Huskies by a score of 30-0. The Eagle defense looked like the defense of old holding Connecticut to only 121 total yards on the day and forced 4 turnovers. Boston College is more than likely regretting its conference decision as they end the season 4-0 out of conference, however, we have been consistent all year in not rewarding teams for wins against bad teams so the Eagles will stay in the basement despite a convincing win.