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ACC Power Rankings - Week 8

Coastal Chaos is back in midseason form

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Georgia Tech Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Does anyone want to take control of the Coastal Division? Every time a new team looks like they are about to seize control they falter and a new flavor of the week steps in. Preseason favorites North Carolina and Pittsburgh stumbled in non-conference, opening the door for Miami to lay a claim to the crown. The Hurricanes promptly lost two straight, ceding the division lead to Virginia Tech, who went out and lost to Syracuse. After taking a year off, it’s almost feels nice having some good, old Coastal Chaos back in our lives. To see who the next victim of Chaos Coastal leader is and how the rest of the conference stacks up the Week 8 Power Rankings are here to deliver.

Tier 1: National Contenders

1 - Clemson Tigers (7-0, 4-0) LW: 1

The ACC front-runners had their hands full against a very game NC State team on Homecoming Saturday. It took several missed field goals and a 4th down conversion in overtime but the Tigers eventually escaped. The bye week comes at a good time for Clemson as top RB Wayne Gallman exited the game early on with concussion-like symptoms. Gallman will be held out of practice this week but hopes to be back for Florida State.

Last week: defeated North Carolina State 24-17 in OT
This week: Bye (Oct. 29 at Florida State)

2 - Louisville Cardinals (5-1, 3-1) LW: 2

On Thursday night, the high powered Louisville offense was held to its lowest output of the season by...Duke? Yes, by Duke. The Cardinals seemed out of sync most of the night and needed a late drive-extending penalty to put the Blue Devils away. Star QB Lamar Jackson had an off night, accounting for “only” 335 yards of offense and two touchdowns.

Last week: defeated Duke 24-14
This week: Saturday, 12:00 pm vs North Carolina State

Tier 2: Coastal Contenders (and FSU)

3 - North Carolina Tar Heels (5-2, 3-1) LW: 6

The teams in this tier are all really, really close and will probably continue to shuffle around week to week. Right now, UNC probably has the best resume after sweeping the Florida teams in Florida and defeating Pitt. Mitch Trubisky returned to form after looking downright awful against Virginia Tech (the game was in a hurricane, but still) and the Tar Heel defense held Miami to only 13 points. The Tar Heels need some help to win the division, but they have a pretty favorable remaining schedule.

Last week: defeated Miami 20-13
This week: Saturday, 3:00 PM at Virginia

4 - Florida State Seminoles (5-2, 2-2) LW: 4

The Florida State defense played their best game of the season, dominating Wake Forest in a game that was pretty sloppy on both sides. The Seminoles held the Deacons to 252 yards and kept them out of the endzone. On the other side of the ball, WR Travis Rudolph and his 13 catch, 238 yard performance was the only real bright spot. The ‘Noles turned the ball over four times, something a better opponent (like, say, Clemson) likely would have been able to capitalize on.

Last week: defeated Wake Forest 17-6
This week: Bye (Oct 29 vs Clemson)

5 - Virginia Tech Hokies (4-2, 2-1) LW: 3

A week after being crowned as Coastal Division favorites, the Hokies stumbled on the road against Syracuse. The Orange were able to shred what had been a staunch defense through the air, throwing for 405 yards. The Hokies never looked comfortable on offense and the defense couldn’t get off the field when they counted. VT still controls their own destiny in the Coastal, but they need to right the ship on Thursday night.

Last week: loss at Syracuse 17-31
This week: Thursday, 7:00 PM vs Miami

6 - Miami Hurricanes (4-2, 1-2) LW: 5

After a strong start to the season, the Hurricanes have lost two straight, both at home, and failed to reach 20 points in either game. Against North Carolina, Miami struggled to keep drives going, converting only 4 of 15 third downs. The Hurricanes must now travel to Blacksburg on a short week, with a banged up defense, needing a win to stay in the division race.

Last week: loss vs North Carolina 13-20
This week: Thursday, 7:00 PM at Virginia Tech

7 - Pittsburgh Panthers (5-2, 2-1) LW: 7

Pitt spent much of the first half trading blows with Virginia but broke the game open on a defensive score just before half. DB Jordan Whitehead took an interception to the house and seemingly woke up the Panthers defense. Pitt sacked Virginia QB Kurt Benkurt on three of the first four passing plays of the second half, rattling the Cavaliers. If the defense carries over their second half performance after the bye week, Pitt could end up being a very dangerous team down the stretch.

Last week: defeated Virginia 45-31
This week: Bye (Oct 27 vs Virginia Tech)

Tier 3: Bowl Contenders

8 - North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-2, 1-1) LW: 8

In their hardest test of the season, the Wolfpack held their own and nearly upset the reigning ACC Champs in Death Valley. NC State was able to rack up nearly 400 yards on the vaunted Tiger defense but couldn’t overcome three missed field goals and 120 yards worth of penalties. The schedule doesn’t ease up as the Pack head to Louisville this weekend.

Last week: loss at Clemson 17-24 in OT
This week: Saturday, 12:00 pm at Louisville

9 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-3, 1-3) LW: 9

The Yellow Jackets got back to their winning ways, defeating in-state foe Georgia Southern fairly comfortably. The offense jumped out to an early lead and managed to score enough to compensate for a defense that struggled to get off the field at times. Georgia Tech badly needs the upcoming bye week, as both starting tackles missed the game and several other players have been banged up.

Last week: defeated Georgia Southern 35-24
This week: Bye (Oct 29 vs Duke)

10 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-2, 2-2) LW: 10

In their first game against the top of the conference the upstart Deacons had a tough time getting anything going in Tallahassee. After they looked to be developing a pretty good running game in recent weeks, Wake was held to a season-low 68 rushing yards. They only had two extended drives on the day and one was the 8 play 56 yard drive they closed the game on. Wake still has games against Louisville and Clemson, but the rest of the schedule is very winnable.

Last week: loss at Florida State 6-17
This week: Bye (Oct 29 vs Army)

Tier 4: Pretenders

11 - Virginia Cavaliers (2-4, 1-1) LW: 11

The Cavaliers managed to hang with Pitt for a half but could not get into an offensive rhythm in the second half of the game. The Cavaliers have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks and shouldn’t be the easy out they looked to be after the first few weeks of the season. They have a tough game this week in the 2016 edition of the South’s Oldest Rivalry.

Last week: loss vs Pittsburgh 31-45
This week: Saturday, 3:00 pm vs North Carolina

12 - Duke Blue Devils (3-4, 0-3) LW: 12

Duke proved that they will not be an easy out this season, hanging with Louisville all the way to the end of the game. The Blue Devils controlled the tempo of the game despite somewhat struggling to move the ball. They held the ball for over 37 minutes but only put up 239 yards of offense. Duke now gets a week to rest and prepare for Georgia Tech’s offense.

Last week: loss at Louisville 14-24
This week: Bye (Oct 29 at Georgia Tech)

13 - Syracuse Orange (3-4, 1-2) LW: 14

Syracuse pulled off one of the weeks biggest upsets to beat Virginia Tech by two scores. Dino Babers’ explosive offense led the way putting up over 560 yards of offense and going 4-5 on 4th down conversions, but the defense played by far their best game of the season. Syracuse kept the Hokies off balance and held them to their lowest scoring output of the season. WR Amba Etta-Tawo was quiet, recording only 54 yards on 5 catches and losing his spot atop the FBS receiving leader board to Louisiana Tech’s Trent Taylor.

Last week: defeated Virginia Tech 31-17
This week: Saturday, 12:30 at Boston College

14 - Boston College Eagles (3-3, 0-3) LW: 13

This week’s game between Boston College and Syracuse will be matchup of strength on strength and weakness on weakness. The Eagles have the ACC’s best passing defense and worst offense, while the Orange will bring the ACC’s best passing offense and worst defense into Chestnut Hill The old cliche is that defense wins championships, which would seem to favor Boston College but we will see what prevails on Saturday.

Last week: Bye
This week: Saturday, 12:30 vs Syracuse