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ACC Power Rankings: Week 12

Cupcakes galore, Duke finally wins, and NC State fumbles it away in this weeks ACC Power Rankings presented by Shakin the Southland.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week 12 of the ACC Power Rankings presented by Shakin the Southland. This is probably my least favorite college football weekend of year as teams schedule the cupcakes in preparation for their upcoming rivalry games, and the ACC was no exception. Regardless, we got a game of the year candidate from Wake Forest and NC State as well as a 6 game winless streak snapped by the Blue Devils Be sure to sound off in the comments below and, as always, enjoy.

#1 Miami (10-0) (7-0) – Last Week – W, 44-28 vs. Virginia

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

I’v been hearing a lot about Miami’s slow start against Virginia since the Canes jumped Clemson in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, and frankly, I don’t understand the talk. Yes, they did start slow, and it wasn’t much of a surprise as the game was coming after two primetime matchups against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. The bottom line is football is four quarters for a reason. You can’t look at the halftime score of 28-14 and not consider the fact that Miami won the second half 31-7. Also, if we are going to potentially punish Miami for their slow start against Virginia, we would have to punish Clemson for lackluster performances against Boston College and Florida State. The gap between #1 and #2 is razor thin, but it my mind, the Canes will remain at #1 until it is all settled in Charlotte.

#2 Clemson (10-1) (7-1) – Last Week – W, 61-3 vs. The Citadel

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

We didn’t expect to learn much about the Tigers this week with The Citadel coming into town, but we did learn that the Tigers are getting healthy again. With the injury report out for the upcoming South Carolina game, it looks like Tre Lamar and Chad Smith are the only two who are questionable to play, which would mean the return of both Mark Fields and a full game from Marcus Edmond. Clemson took the opportunity on Saturday to work on its passing game. Kelly Bryant completed 17 of his 22 pass attempts and threw for three touchdowns. Bryant will have to beat the Gamecocks with his arm this weekend

#3 Wake Forest (7-4) (4-3) – Last Week – W, 30-24 vs. #19 NC State

Movement from Last Week (+2)

Demetrius Kemp will be the golden example of never giving up on a play that coach Clawson has been looking for. Kemp stripped the ball inches from the goal line to prevent Emeka Emezie from scoring the potential go ahead touchdown. Wake Forest clearly wanted this game, as they had dropped three games in a row to the Wolfpack, and had yet to beat a ranked team in the regular season under Clawson. Saturday’s win may not be the program building ranked win that Wake Forest is looking for, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. And can we continue to talk about this offensive resurgence? This year’s team is now officially the highest scoring offense in Demon Deacon history…and they still have two games to play! Look for Wake to put up 60 on the Blue Devils this weekend before they go bowling.

#4 Virginia Tech (8-3) (4-3) – Last Week – W, 20-14 vs. Pittsburgh

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

We’ve been hinting at it for quite a while, but Saturday’s performance against the Panthers proved it to me that it is time to sell on the Hokies. After his blistering start to the season in which many people felt he was a shoe in for ACC Freshman of the Year, Josh Jackson has reverted to playing like a freshman in the past couple of weeks. Jackson was below average on Saturday completing only 17 of his 37 passes against an average Pittsburgh defense. Luckily for the Hokies, their defense has shown up for the better part of the season, and their goal line stand saved them from an embarrassing home loss to the Panthers. Virginia Tech will travel to Charlottesville this weekend to take on rival Virginia in a game where I don’t expect them to come out on top.

#5 North Carolina State (7-4) (5-2) – Last Week – L, 30-24 @ Wake Forest

Movement from Last Week (-2)

Yes, a part of everyone feels that Dave Doeren got exactly what he deserved on Saturday in Winston Salem on Saturday, but all jokes aside, you have to feel for Emeka Emezie because that is just no way to lose a football game. Think back to Ray-Ray McCloud’s punt return from last season; only intensify the moment by 10. With that being said, I don’t understand how NC State lost this football game. NC State racked up 502 yards of offense to Wake’s 334, had 28 first downs to Wake’s 18 and held the ball for 41:07 seconds of game clock. Unfortunately for NC State, turnovers have been their Achilles heel in their losses all season, and they reared their ugly head again on Saturday. NC State has now lost 3 of their last 4 games, but luckily has rival North Carolina to help finish out their season.

#6 – Boston College (6-5) (3-4) – Last Week – W, 39-16 vs. Connecticut

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

This game was a lot of fun to watch. On a rain soaked evening at Fenway Park. With Anthony Brown out for the remainder of the season, Senior Darius Wade returned under center for the Eagles, and proved that it just doesn’t matter as long as you have AJ Dillon in the backfield. Dillon rushed for 200 yards on 24 carries on the afternoon and scored on touchdown runs of 48 and 53 yards. With the win, Boston College is bowl eligible for the fourth time in five seasons. We were all simply waiting for the moment when Steve Addazio would lose his job, but instead, he is the first Boston College coach in the history of the program to lead his team to a bowl game in four of his first five seasons. If BC can get their hands on a quarterback, they could be a force to be reckoned with in the Atlantic in the near future.

#7 Louisville (7-4) (4-4) – Last Week – W, 56-10 vs. Syracuse

Movement from Last Week (+2)

I’v seen some articles recently stating that the ACC is again making its claim as the best conference in the country, and I don’t quite agree with them. In fact, I feel that the ACC as a whole has been below average this year, and as a result, this team as slithered its way back into the top half of the rankings. This game may have come against an ACC opponent, but playing Syracuse without Eric Dungey is a lot like Clemson playing the Citadel this weekend. Lamar Jackson rushed for 111 yards, and accounted for four touchdowns on the day and Malik Williams rushed for a season high 180 yards and two touchdowns against a tired Syracuse defense trying to pick up the slack for the struggling offense. Louisville ends the season against rival Kentucky and will have to show me that this conference is better than it currently looks.

#8 Florida State (4-6) (3-5) – Last Week – W, 77-6 vs. Delaware State

Movement from Last Week (+2)

This is always the worst week of every college football season, and this game is just another example of many that we saw this week as to the reason why. In preparation for rivalry week against Florida and a must win game if they want to have a chance to be bowl eligible at the end of the season, Florida State absolutely dismantled Delaware State by a score of 77-6. Nothing really to report out of this game, because we didn’t learn anything about the Seminoles, we just learned that Delaware State is an FCS team, and not a very good one at that.

#9 Virginia (6-5) (3-4) – Last Week – L, 44-28 @ #3 Miami

Movement from Last Week (+2)

Virginia has had an impressive season compared to its two-win campaign from 2016, but this is still tough because Kurt Benkert deserves better than 6 wins…Benkert was spectacular on Saturday, completing 18 of his first 19 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns to show you just how good of a quarterback he really is. Unfortunately, Miami made the defensive adjustments against Benkert in the second half and everything unraveled when Benkert underthrew a post route that was picked off by Jaquan Johnson and returned for a touchdown (his fourth on the season). Virginia will finish up with rival Virginia Tech in a game that will be MUCH closer than people expect. In fact, I expect Virginia to pull off an upset this weekend.

#10 Syracuse (4-7) (2-5) – Last Week – L, 56-10 @ Louisville

Movement from Last Week (-2)

Yes, I am sure that you have seen it all over Twitter this week, “The Syracuse Orange are 0-4 since their Friday the 13th victory over Clemson”. Let’s keep in mind that those four contests have come against Miami, FSU, Wake and Louisville, and three of them have been played on the road. To top it all off, Syracuse has played two of them without Quarterback Eric Dungey. Last week’s contest against Louisville was just another game that really didn’t tell us anything about a team, other than the fact that their run defense wasn’t up to snuff on the day. We’ll drop them in the rankings, but this team has come a loooong way since losing at home to Middle Tennessee in September.

#11 Georgia Tech (5-5) (4-4) – Last Week – L, 43-20 @ Duke

Movement from Last Week (-4)

I can’t with this team…Georgia Tech had the opportunity to get bowl eligibility out of the way a week early with ACC bottom dweller Duke, before their rivalry matchup with #7 Georgia, but managed to throw it away. Watching this game, the first half was bad enough, but that paled in comparison to the second half. Duke ripped off 23 unanswered points in the process of gaining 500 yards of total offense, 30 first downs, and keeping the Yellow Jackets triple-option off the field, and won the time of possession battle for the game. Georgia Tech will now need to upset the #7 Bulldogs in order to become bowl eligible, and with how unpredictable this team is…it’s pretty much a lock that they will pull off the upset after this dismal performance.

#12 Duke (5-6) (2-5) – Last Week – W, 43-20 vs. Georgia Tech

Movement from Last Week (+1)

The streak is over! It seems like an entire season ago, but Duke notched its first victory since a September 23rd victory over rival North Carolina to take the Victory Bell. Duke managed to execute its game plan to perfection as they put together long, sustained drives and kept the Georgia Tech offense off of the field. Quarterback Daniel Jones returned to his early season form, completing 18 of his 27 passes and threw for two touchdowns, while Brittain Brown rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown on the day. Duke now has the chance to become bowl eligible if they can upset Wake Forest in their final regular season game of the year.

#13 Pittsburgh (4-7) (2-5) – Last Week – L, 20-14 @ Virginia Tech

Movement from Last Week (-1)

I will give Pittsburgh some credit here since they took a chance, but not enough credit for them to make a move in the rankings. It seems like Pittsburgh’s only shot at winning this season has been when they have a back rush for more than 100 yards, and against Virginia Tech’s vaunted rush defense, that was not going to happen. Pat Narduzzi knew that he was going to have to pass in order to win the game, so in comes Freshman Kenny Pickett. Pickett wasn’t bad on the day, but threw some costly interceptions, including one to give the ball back to Tech for the game winning score, but props for having the guts to notice that Dinucci wasn’t going to get it done against the Hokies and try something else.

#14 North Carolina (3-8) (1-6) – Last Week – W, 65-10 vs. Western Carolina

Movement from Last Week (No Change)

This week was more of a feel-good story for North Carolina as they took on the undermanned Catamounts of Western Carolina, although I had my doubts when WCU took a touchdown lead in the first quarter, and the game was tied after one. North Carolina has a bit of momentum heading into their rivalry game with NC State to finish the season, and they will hope that Nathan Elliot’s four touchdown passes on the day can give them their first three game winning streak of the year in their last game of the season.