Home ACC Power Rankings Week 8: FSU firmly atop, stunning UVA upset shake things up

ACC Power Rankings Week 8: FSU firmly atop, stunning UVA upset shake things up

Scott German
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Florida State used a strong second half to overpower Duke, 38-20, Saturday evening in Tallahassee, moving to 7-0, and 5-0 in ACC action.

Meanwhile in Chapel Hill, Virginia pulled off the shocker of the college football season, beating previously unbeaten UNC, 31-27.

Just like that, the ACC has only one unbeaten team in the Seminoles, who are almost certainly the only team in the conference with any kind of legitimate CFP hopes.

North Carolina entered Saturday night’s matchup with rival Virginia as a 24-point favorite and a dark horse playoff contender.

The Tar Heels still have a path to the ACC title game, but the loss all but ends the aspirations of a CFP January for Carolina.

Meanwhile, the Seminoles removed Duke from the rank of unbeatens in league play and left the Blue Devils battling the Tar Heels for a spot in Charlotte in the ACC title game, likely with FSU.

There’s still plenty of conference games remaining, and of course some upsets still to be had, but right now FSU is sitting on top of the ACC mountain.

So, who moved up and down this week in the ACC Power Rankings?

  1. FSU (7-0, 5-0 ACC) Despite a slow start, the Seminoles used a strong second half to beat Duke, 38-20. Jordan Travis had a solid game, and the FSU defense played well against a Duke offense that was hampered by another injury to quarterback Riley Leonard.
  2. Duke (5-2, 2-1 ACC) Despite the loss to FSU, the Blue Devils moved up a notch thanks to North Carolina’s upset loss to UVA. Without QB Riley Leonard, Duke’s offense sputtered against the Seminoles. The Blue Devils are still alive in the ACC race, but with a remaining schedule that includes Louisville and UNC, a healthy Leonard is imperative for Duke.
  3. Louisville (6-1, 3-1 ACC) Despite not playing Saturday, the Cardinals are another team that benefits from North Carolina’s loss. The Cardinals move from four to three this week.
  4. UNC (6-1, 3-1 ACC) The Tar Heels fell from two to four this week. Dropping them further would diminish the significant effort by Virginia Saturday in Kenan Stadium. UNC’s defense was not able to get stops when needed against the Cavaliers. Their CFP hopes are probably over, but this team can still get to the ACC title game. It will be interesting to see how the Tar Heels respond.
  5. Miami (5-2, 1-2 ACC) The Hurricanes have been punished enough for their horrific loss to Georgia Tech a few weeks ago. Miami moves from number 10 in the rankings to number five. After two tough weeks, Miami was able to slip by Clemson, a team that has had the Hurricanes’ number the past several seasons.
  6. Clemson (4-3, 2-3 ACC) The season continues to slip away from the Tigers. What a frustrating loss for Clemson against a Miami team that was reeling from two straight losses and playing a backup quarterback. Dabo Swinney may be circling the wagons in Death Valley.
  7. Virginia Tech (3-4, 2-1 ACC) The Hokies had a bye week and held firm at the number seven spot. Don’tlook now, but Tech is still in the ACC race, and with Syracuse up next, should be able to stay in the hunt.
  8. Boston College(4-3, 2-2 ACC) BC leaps from number 11 to eight this week. The Eagles had a strong showing in Atlanta Saturday, beating Georgia Tech. After a slow start, Boston College has won three straight and on track for a season-ending bowl game.
  9. NC State (4-3, 1-2 ACC) The Wolfpack had the weekend off, but unless State can figure a way to put more points on the scoreboard, then a continued fall down in the rankings is likely. Up next is a game with Clemson in Raleigh.
  10. Virginia (2-5, 1-2 ACC) UVA moves from the cellar to number 10 this week after a huge win over UNC Saturday. The Cavaliers have a lot to feel good about. QB Anthony Muskett played exceptionally, and Mike Hollins had three touchdowns. After a tough start to the season, UVA played an inspired game against the Tar Heels. Let’ssee if the momentum can carry over against Miami this week.
  11. Wake Forest (4-3, 1-3 ACC) The Demon Deacons righted the ship on Saturday, winning for the first time in league action with a 21-17 win over Pitt. Despite missing their top two quarterbacks, Wake got a touchdown pass with seven seconds remaining for the win. A huge challenge awaits WF this week against Florida State.
  12. Syracuse (4-3, 0-3 ACC) The Syracuse swoon was put on hold this past weekend as Syracuse had a much-needed bye week. The Orange hopes to end a three-game losing streak at Virginia Tech Thursday night.
  13. Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-2 ACC) Coming off a bye week, facing BC at home, things were looking good for the Yellow Jackets. And through three quarters GT had a comfortable 23-17 lead. The Eagles then exploded for 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win, 38-23. So, on that collapse Tech falls from number six to number 13in the rankings. Yes, it’spossible to drop that much in a week. Ask Miami.
  14. Pitt (2-5, 1-3 ACC) It’sjust getting worse for the Panthers. For the first time this season Pitt finds itself in the cellar of the ACC Power Rankings. That’s what losing to a team playing a third-string quarterback can do to you. After beating Louisville, Pittsburgh was completely flat against Wake Forest.  Things don’t get any easier for the Panthers as they travel to Notre Dame next week.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.