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2014 ACC Football Season Power Rankings: Week 7

Little movement this week as teams settle into their normal spots with half a season to go.

Scott Cunningham

Each week, the BCI staff writers and other Boston College football prognosticators secretly convene in a cigar smoke-filled bunker deep underneath Alumni Stadium, tasked at ranking the ACC's best college football programs on a weekly basis.

Here are the results for week 7:


1. Florida State Seminoles, 112 (8 first-place votes)
2. Clemson Tigers, 99
3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 96
4. Louisville Cardinals, 89
5. Virginia Cavaliers, 79
6t. Duke Blue Devils, 63
6t. Virginia Tech Hokies, 63
8. Miami Hurricanes, 52
9. Boston College Eagles, 49
10. Pittsburgh Panthers, 43
11. N.C. State Wolfpack, 38
12. North Carolina Tar Heels, 29
13. Syracuse Orange, 19
14. Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 9

1. Florida State Seminoles (5-0, 3-0)

Last week: Defeated Wake Forest, 43-3
This week: at Syracuse

Previous rank: No. 1 (--)
Highest position: 1
Lowest position: 1

The defending National Champs took just a 10-point lead to the locker room, but tacked on 30 more points in the second half to rout Wake Forest, 43-3. The 'Noles next face a reeling Syracuse team in the Dome this week. Through the first seven weeks of the season, FSU has garnered every single first place vote in our poll.

2. Clemson Tigers (3-2, 2-1)

Last week: Defeated N.C. State, 41-0
This week: vs. Louisville

Previous rank: 2 (--)
Highest position: 2
Lowest position: 5

The Tigers have bounced back nicely after starting the season 1-2. Over the past two weeks, Clemson has taken out North Carolina and N.C. State by a combined score of 91-35. Really wish Dabo hadn't figured out that Deshaun Watson was the answer under center this early in the year.

Clemson has a pretty strange schedule this year. The Tigers' next four games all come against ACC Atlantic Division opponents. CU ends the year with permanent cross-division rival Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern and South Carolina. Should Clemson get past Louisville and the Cardinals stout defense this weekend, not hard to see the Tigers win out to finish the year 10-2.

3. Georgia Tech (5-0, 2-0)

Last week: Defeated Miami, 28-17
This week: vs. Duke

Previous rank: 3 (--)
Highest position: 2
Lowest position: 4

Georgia Tech holds steady at #3 this week after taking out Miami, 28-17, to improve to 2-0 in conference play. The Jackets can take a huge step towards locking up the Coastal with a win at home over Duke this weekend. Even with a loss to Clemson, it's looking like 5-3 or 6-2 will be enough to lock up the division and play the role of Florida State sacrificial lamb.

4. Louisville Cardinals (5-1, 3-1)

Last week: Defeated Syracuse, 28-6
This week: at Clemson

Previous rank: 4 (--)
Highest position: 3
Lowest position: 6

Despite playing without QB Will Gardner and WR DeVante Parker, Louisville did just enough to pull away from Syracuse and notch a 28-6 victory. Louisville hasn't looked other-worldly in their three ACC wins, but the defense is capable of keeping the Cards in just about every conference game the rest of the way.

The schedule gets a bit harder from here on out, with games against Clemson, Florida State and Notre Dame over the next five.

5. Virginia (4-2, 2-0)

Last week: Defeated Pittsburgh, 24-19
This week: Idle

Previous rank: t-7 (up 2)
Highest position: 4
Lowest position 7

Of course, the only of the seven Coastal Division teams not to receive a first-place vote in the preseason poll is off to a 2-0 start. Virginia obviously took care of Pitt at home--something BC failed to do--but I'm still not sure quite what to make of Mike London's bunch. With road games in four of their remaining six games, there's a path to bowl eligibility for the 'Hoos, but I don't see them really challenging for the Coastal Division crown. Though a win next Saturday at Duke would raise some eyebrows.

6t. Duke (4-1, 0-1)

Last week: Idle
This week: at Georgia Tech

Previous rank: 7 (up 1)
Highest position: 5
Lowest position: 9

The Blue Devils have had a week to stew over their first loss of the season, a 22-10 setback at Miami. After rolling their first four opponents to start the season, the Miami defense kept Duke's potent offense in check most of the night. Miami becomes just the second team in the last 36 games to keep Duke to 10 points or less.

If Duke has any hopes of repeating as Coastal Division champs, a win this weekend in Atlanta would be a good first step.

6t. Virginia Tech (4-2, 1-1)

Last week: Defeated North Carolina, 34-17
This week: Idle

Previous rank: 6 (--)
Highest position: 4
Lowest position: 11

Virginia Tech scored two touchdowns in the game's first 3 1/2 minutes, forced three turnovers and notched five sacks in a 34-17 win at reeling North Carolina. It's pretty difficult to put your finger on this year's Virginia Tech team. Is this the team that ended Ohio State's 64-game home winning streak over unranked non-conference opponents, or the one that dropped back-to-back games in the final minute of the game to ECU and Georgia Tech?

I want to say Tech is closer to the team that knocked off Ohio State. We'll certainly gain more clarity on this year's Hokies team over the next two weeks. Virginia Tech is off this weekend before playing back-to-back Thursday night games at Pittsburgh (10/16) and vs. Miami (10/23)--two huge games with lots of Coastal Division title implications.

8. Miami (3-3, 1-2)

Last week: Lost to Georgia Tech, 28-17
This week: vs. Cincinnati

Previous rank: 5 (down 3)
Highest position: 6
Lowest position: 11

At this point, the ACC's mythical Florida State-Miami conference championship game matchup is "equivocated to finding a unicorn." Since the start of the 2006 season, Miami is 33-34 in conference play, and it's looking increasingly likely that the Canes will once again be a nonfactor in the Coastal Division title race.

Miami takes a break from ACC play this weekend with a home game against Cincinnati before ending the year with five straight ACC opponents (and four from the Coastal Division). The Canes probably get to a bowl game this year, but will likely finish with a losing record in ACC play for only the third time since division play began in 2005.

9. Boston College (3-2, 0-1)

Last week: Idle
This week: at N.C. State

Previous rank: 11 (up 2)
Highest position: 8
Lowest position: 10

Hard to argue with BC's spot in this week's power rankings. The Eagles are up two spots this week based not on what they did (BC was idle), but more on what other teams did (or failed to do) in week 6. BC ahead of Pitt looks a bit funny, but that's what happens when you drop three straight, including a double-digit home loss to Akron.

Up next for the Eagles is a critical ACC Atlantic Division matchup with N.C. State.

10. Pittsburgh (3-3, 1-1)

Last week: Lost to Virginia, 24-19
This week: Idle

Previous rank: 10 (--)
Highest position: 7
Lowest position: 11

The Pitt running game was stopped in its tracks last weekend at Virginia, as the Cavaliers built a 24-3 halftime lead and held on for a 24-19 victory to improve to 2-0 in conference play. Panthers RB James Conner, who came into the game ranked third in the country rushing with 158 yards a game, was held to under 100 yards (83) and stuffed twice in goalline situations. UVA added a defensive touchdown--a 24-yard pick six--right before half that would prove the difference in this game.

Pitt is in free-fall mode--quickly going from chic Coastal Division title pick to losers of three straight. That said, the Panthers have a manageable enough schedule the rest of the way to recover and take the Coastal Division. Pitt's next three games are all at home, and all against Coastal Division opponents (Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke). Win those three games and Pitt jumps right back into the ACC Championship Game discussion, especially when ending the year with games at North Carolina, Syracuse and at Miami.

11. N.C. State (4-2, 0-2)

Last week: Lost to Clemson, 41-0
This week: vs. Boston College

Previous rank: 9 (down 2)
Highest position: 5
Lowest position: 13

N.C. State had a rough go of it last weekend. The Wolfpack turned in a 2009 BC @ Clemson-esque performance on offense. The conference's top ranked offense going into the game managed just 156 yards of offense (and at one point, was losing the yardage battle 312 to -8).

nc state clemson

12. North Carolina (2-3, 0-2)

Last week: Lost to Virginia Tech, 34-17
This week: at Notre Dame

Previous rank: 12 (--)
Highest position: 8
Lowest position: 14

The Tar Heels can put some points on the board. It's the defense that's been terrible-to-nonexistent over the first five games of the season. Going into this weekend's game in South Bend against the 6th ranked Irish, the Tar Heels defense ranks 120th nationally, giving up over 500 yards a game.

With the defense struggling as bad as it has been, it's hard to see North Carolina winning many more games this season. Maybe the home finale against N.C. State? Maybe?

13. Syracuse (2-3, 0-1)

Last week: Lost to Louisville, 28-6
This week: vs. Florida State

Previous rank: 13 (--)
Highest position: 12
Lowest position: 13

Sure, Syracuse is stuck in our power rankings 13th spot, but ISIS is out there cutting people's heads off. It's all about perspective, you know.

The Orange are making a change at offensive coordinator this week, though going to go out on a limb and saying that the OC isn't at the root of what ails the program (cough hired Spaz 2.0 cough). On the bright side, it's probably only a matter of time before Doug Marrone is run out of Buffalo only to make a Bill Snyder-esque return to the Syracuse sidelines--3 years, max?--at which time SU fans will once again get #blessed with alternating 4-8 / 8-4 seasons courtesy of Saint Doug.

By the way, referring to oneself in the third person is absolute press conference gold.

14. Wake Forest (2-4, 0-2)

Last week: Lost to Florida State, 43-3
This week: Idle

Previous rank: 14 (--)
Highest position: 13
Lowest position: 14

The good news for Wake is that the Deacons can't lose this weekend. More good news: the program gets an extra week to prepare to host Syracuse, the next best chance at win #3 this season. The bad news: Wake has less than a 15% chance of winning any of its final four games of the season--Clemson, at N.C. State, Virginia Tech, at Duke, according to ESPN's Football Power Index.