By Will Vandervort.
Where does 21st-ranked Clemson stand in the ACC power rankings heading into Saturday’s game with South Carolina? Who is in line to get the Orange Bowl bid? The Clemson Insider breaks down the ACC and more as the league gets ready for the final week of the regular season in college football.
1. Florida State (11-0, 8-0 ACC), last week No. 1: It was not pretty, but in the end the Seminoles found a way to win another game. Unless Georgia Tech knocks them off in the ACC Championship Game, this is the best team in the ACC. The ‘Noles host Florida on Saturday.
2. Georgia Tech (9-2, 6-2 ACC), last week No. 2: Thanks to Duke’s loss to North Carolina last Thursday, the Jackets backed into the ACC Championship game. The Yellow Jackets, ranked No. 16 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, will play No. 9 Georgia in Athens on Saturday.
3. Clemson (8-3, 6-2 ACC), last week No. 3: Clemson hosts South Carolina in the Palmetto State’s biggest game of the year. The Tigers have lost five straight and is hoping a return of Deshaun Watson at quarterback, plus the nation’s No. 1 defense will be enough this year to end the Gamecocks’ five-year reign in the nation’s second oldest continuous rivalry.
4. Louisville (8-3, 5-3 ACC), last week No. 4: The Cardinals got a big victory in South Bend and now need just a victory over archrival Kentucky on Saturday to wrap up what was a very successful first season in the ACC, especially considering all the injuries they went through during the course of the season.
5. Duke (8-3, 4-3 ACC), last week No. 5: Two weeks ago, Duke was playing for an ACC Championship appearance for second straight year. Now all they’re playing for a better bowl game. The Blue Devils host in-state rival Wake Forest on Saturday.
6. Boston College (6-5, 3-4 ACC), last week No. 7: Tyler Murphy and the Eagles nearly did the impossible and beat No. 3 Florida State in Tallahassee. Now they have to hope not to repeat the trap Miami fell into last week at Virginia and let the loss to FSU beat them twice. BC closes the regular season by hosting 3-8 Syracuse.
7. Miami (6-5, 3-4 ACC), last week No. 6: Miami host a Pitt team that can run the football and at times plays well against the run, especially against pro-style teams like the Hurricanes. The good news for the ‘Canes is that they are good in both categories as well. The bad news is Pittsburgh is playing for a possible bowl berth. It should make for an interesting game.
8. North Carolina (6-5, 4-3 ACC), last week No. 9: The Tar Heels probably played their best game against Duke last week. Now they close the regular season on Saturday at home against NC State – another huge rival. Can they do it for a second straight week? UNC is looking to close the season with five wins in its last six games after going 2-4 to start the first half of the season.
9. Pitt (5-6, 3-4 ACC), last week No. 10: With a victory at Miami on Saturday, Pittsburgh has an opportunity to become the 10th ACC team this year to become bowl eligible.
10. Virginia (5-6, 3-4 ACC), last week No. 12: The Cavaliers stunned almost everyone with their impressive win over Miami, which snapped a four-game losing streak. Now they head into Friday night’s showdown against rival Virginia Tech with an opportunity to become bowl eligible – something no one thought could happen at the beginning of the year.
11. NC State (6-5, 2-5 ACC), last week No. 11: NC State has six wins and will go bowling, but it’s most impressive win to date is a 24-17 victory at Syracuse on Nov. 1. The Wolfpack can change that with a victory over the Tar Heels on Saturday in Chapel Hill.
12. Virginia Tech (5-6, 2-5 ACC), last week No. 8: Wake Forest? Really? Wake Forest? And then to only score three points and those came in the first overtime. How did this team beat Ohio State on Sept. 6?
13. Syracuse (3-8, 1-6 ACC), last week No. 13: If the Orange lose to Boston College on Saturday, it means they will close the season with nine losses in the last 10 games.
14. Wake Forest (3-8, 1-6 ACC), last week No. 14: As ugly as it was for Virginia Tech to lose to the Demon Deacons last week, it was equally as good of a win for Wake. To everyone’s surprise, Wake Forest finally figured out a way to win a game in the ACC win no thought it could do it. The Demon Deacons close out the season at Duke