BLACKSBURG VA - NOVEMBER 04: Tight end Andre Smith #88 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets with fullback Joey Phillips #45 of the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on November 4 2010 in Blacksburg Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Four games in the ACC came down to the final minute, but Virginia Tech avoided the upset to remain on top of the conference. Maryland falls three spots to No. 7.
Talk about a wild week. Five of the six games in the ACC last week were decided in the final two minutes. Of those five, four came down to the final few seconds. The divisional races became even more muddled -- Clemson and UNC both fought their way back into the edge of the picture, and all three of the leaders in the Atlantic lost. Luckily, we're here to make sense of it all in the Week 11 SB Nation D.C. ACC Power Rankings:
1. Virginia Tech Hokies (7-2, 5-0)
Last: W vs. Georgia Tech, 28-21
The Hokies were just a few inches on a throw from a backup quarterback away from falling to the same upset bug that bit its fellow top-tier ACC teams. Instead, cornerback Rashad Carmichael got to the ball first and preserved the victory that running back David Wilson earned for the Hokies on a clutch kickoff return for a touchdown. The defense got gashed by the opposition's running game for the second time in the past three weeks, but against Georgia Tech that's hardly a deadly offense. They technically haven't clinched the title yet, thanks to the resurgent presence of North Carolina, but it's really just a matter of time before the Hokies officially write their ticket to Charlotte.
Next: @ UNC, 3:30, ABC
2. N.C. State Wolfpack (6-3, 3-2)
Last: L @ Clemson, 14-13
N.C. State just got Clemson'd by, of all teams, Clemson. After the huge Thursday night upset over Florida State to give themselves the division lead, they self-destructed with a variety of fatal mistake. Quarterback Russell Wilson took at least three points off the board by throwing an interception in the end zone, kicker Josh Czajkowski had a short field goal blocked and running back Mustafa Greene fumbled on his own 22-yard-line in the third quarter to set up Clemson's first touchdown of the day. The Pack weren't outplayed by the Tigers; instead they beat themselves. Luckily for N.C. State, Florida State couldn't take advantage of the opportunity to move up.
Next: vs. Wake Forest, 2:00, ESPN3.com
3. Florida St. Seminoles (6-3, 4-2)
Last: L vs. North Carolina, 37-35
Normally reliable kicker Dustin Hopkins has been getting most of the blame for FSU's two-point loss due to his two wide right field goals (again?), but more are to blame. Namely, the Noles' pass defense, which gave up nearly 500 yards through the air, and an inconsistent second-half offense didn't do FSU much good either. Instead of likely gaining control of the ACC Atlantic race, FSU is now acutely aware of some deep problems with the team's defense and is still relying on N.C. State to fall to get a shot at Virginia Tech and the ACC Championship.
Next: vs. Clemson, 8:00, ABC
4. Miami Hurricanes (6-3, 4-2)
Last: W vs. Maryland, 26-20
No Jacory Harris, no problem. No one knows if Stephen Morris is a long-term answer at quarterback or if he's edging in on Harris' spot - Randy Shannon says he's not, and for now there's no reason to believe otherwise - but he played a heck of game in his a starting debut. Those 286 yards weren't shabby, but even better was his beautiful game-wining throw to Leonard Hankerson in the final minute. There are now doubts around Maryland that will keep the Canes from jumping to No. 3 this week, but considering the circumstances - without both Harris and starting running back Damien Berry, no fans there a fourth-quarter comeback - you won't find a single Canes fan turning down the outcome.
Next: @ Georgia Tech, 12:00, ESPN3.com
5. North Carolina Tar Heels (6-3, 3-2)
Last: W @ Florida State, 37-35
For once, it's time to think of this North Carolina team separate from what their scandal potentially wrecked, because these Heels have plenty potential of their own. Senior quarterback T.J. Yates threw for 439 yards, over 200 of them to wide receiver Greg Jones, to help orchestrate a nearly unthinkable upset just a week after the Heels struggled mightily with William & Mary. Now, UNC is bowl-eligible despite losing arguably their three best players before the season, and can technically still win the ACC Coastal Division if they topple Virginia Tech and the Hokies lose to the Hurricanes in Miami. Butch Davis, meanwhile, is shaping up to be an ACC Coach of the Year frontrunner.
Next: vs. Virginia Tech, 3:30, ABC
6. Clemson Tigers (5-4, 3-3)
Last: W vs N.C. State, 14-13
The same problems that were always there for Clemson before their upset win over N.C. State are still there now. Offensively, this team is an inconsistent mess (they were outgained by the Wolfpack), running back Jamie Harper produced only 60 yards on 25 carries, the Tigers turned the ball over three times and quarterback Kyle Parker was even benched Donovan McNabb-style for a series. But the defense, particularly defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, stepped up time and time again to stifle a normally active N.C. State offense. I have no idea if the Tigers can win on the road - they still lack a single road win on the season - and the offensive troubles will catch up with them soon, but for now, they're alive.
Next: @ Florida State, 8:00, ABC
7. Maryland Terrapins (6-3, 3-2)
Last: L @ Miami, 26-20
It doesn't get much uglier than the way Maryland played on Saturday. Even though Miami was missing its top quarterback and running back, the Terrapins gave up over 500 yards of total offense and countered with only 254 of their own. This was not the same team that beat down Wake Forest by a solid 48. An offense beset by the lack of a running game and a glut of dropped passes wasn't helped out any by a few head-scratching coaching decisions, and it all made for one supremely unsatisfying game. The Terps still had a chance in the final seconds, but couldn't stop Miami and Adrian Cannon couldn't bring down the final heave. And yet, miraculously, Maryland still controls their own destiny in the ACC.
Next: @ Virginia, 3:30, ESPN3.com
8. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-4, 3-3)
Last: L @ Virginia Tech, 28-21
Poor, poor, poor Georgia Tech. Last time, I mentioned that all they had to do was put up a fight against Virginia Tech and they'd be at least at No. 6 this week, so long as Clemson and UNC did their parts and lost. The Jackets more than put up a fight: they took Virginia Tech down to the final whistle, and did it with backup Tevin Washington instead of their best player and star quarterback, Joshua Nesbitt. In fact, if not for a long kickoff return for a touchdown by the Hokies, they might actually pull that game out. Unfortunately for Georgia Tech, though, Clemson and UNC played spoiler and won their matchups. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech hasn't won since October 16, and with Miami up next and Nesbitt done for the season, they might be waiting at least another week.
Next: vs. Miami, 12:00, ESPN3.com
9. Boston College Eagles (4-5, 2-4)
Last: W @ Wake Forest, 23-13
Boston College went from potential cellar-dweller to potential bowl team in just two weeks. Consecutive wins, including an upset over Clemson, will do that for a team, I guess. Quarterback Chase Rettig has looked better each week, throwing 13-16 last week, and running Montel Harris continues his outstanding season, leading the ACC in rushing by a healthy margin. With three winnable games - Duke, Virginia, and Syracuse - still on the schedule, a bowl might be more of a probability than possibility at this point. Remember, too, that the Eagles were a combined eight points away from beating Maryland and Florida State. BC might be even better than they seem.
Next: @ Duke, 12:00, ESPN3.com
10. Duke Blue Devils (3-6, 1-4)
Last: W vs. Virginia, 55-48
Whatever mojo the Blue Devils lost in their offense in the middle of the year, they got it back over the past two weeks. David Cutcliffe's squad has been averaging 45 points a game over the past two contests and won both, an unusual event for Duke. A rejuvenated running game led by Sean Connette and Desmond Scott has been plenty useful and has given Duke a chance to hold onto the ball more than they normally do. They do not, however, have any semblance of defense, giving up a 24-point comeback to Navy and 48 points (and upwards of 600 yards!) to Virginia. It'll be interesting to see if the offense can keep things going against Boston College, the first real defense they've faced since Virginia Tech.
Next: vs. Boston College, 12:00, ESPN3.com
11. Virginia Cavaliers (4-5, 1-4)
Last: L @ Duke, 55-48
The Cavs probably lost their bowl hopes with the loss to Duke, and it was plenty surprising after the Miami win (maybe it shouldn't have been; it's a classic let-down game). They were fine offensively in terms of production - again, 600 yards - but three untimely turnovers and a lack of late defense ultimately led to their downfall. That said, they did only fall by a single touchdown that was scored in the final minute, so they stay very close to Duke in the power rankings.
Next: vs. Maryland, 3:30, ESPN3.com
12. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-7, 1-5)
Last: L vs. Boston College, 23-13
Not much changed since last week for the Deacs. They were last place then, and they're last place now. The loss to Boston College, close though it was, was plenty ugly: true freshman quarterback Tanner Price threw four interceptions and no touchdowns. The last time Wake Forest won was in early September. It's doubtful that they'll get another one against N.C. State, Clemson, or Vanderbilt before the end of the season.
Next: @ North Carolina State, 2:00 ESPN3.com
Game of the Week: Virginia Tech at North Carolina, 3:30, ABC
There were plenty of must-watch games last week, and the slate looks just as good this week. Florida State-Clemson is a close runner-up, but that it's on the road for Clemson spells trouble for Dabo Swinney's crew. Instead, I'm more intrigued by a Hokies team that looked beatable against Georgia Tech visiting a renewed UNC team in an atmosphere that should be electric (y'know, for the Heels). UNC has a bunch going against them, including the absence of injured starting running back Johnny White, but that hasn't stopped them yet.