It’s the final week of the regular season, and the division winners have been determined in Georgia Tech and Clemson. The ACC has five teams ranked in the BCS standings, but I’ve got a slightly different order here which reflects the top two teams in each division.
To me, they finished the season as the best teams in the ACC and should be rewarded for it. There’s a drop-off after the first five, though, and that’s something that hasn’t changed much this season. In fact, there was only one position change in this week’s rankings, and that’s only because FSU squeaked out a home win while BC turned it over six times in a home loss.
Here are rankings for Week 13:
1. Georgia Tech (10-1, 7-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) -- The Yellow Jackets had a bye week to relish their Coastal Division title and prepare for a downtrodden Georgia team. Paul Johnson said on his Sunday teleconference that there’s no sense of overconfidence, though, or looking ahead to the ACC championship game.
2. Clemson (8-3, 6-2; LW: No. 2) -- The Tigers played a complete second half against Virginia to earn the school’s first appearance in the ACC championship game and the first chance at the conference title since 1991. Now they face rival South Carolina on the road, and their next goal, coach Dabo Swinney said, is winning the state championship.
3. Virginia Tech (8-3, 5-2; LW: No. 3) -- The Hokies humbled NC State in a 38-10 win in Lane Stadium, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t handle Virginia this weekend with similar ease, though the Cavaliers’ defense should pose a bigger challenge for Ryan Williams.
4. Miami (8-3, 5-3; LW: No. 4) -- They waited until the fourth quarter, but behind the leadership of quarterback Jacory Harris, the Canes were able to hold off a determined Duke team and win 34-16. It wasn’t as convincing as the score might indicate, though, and nothing will get easier on the road this weekend at South Florida.
5. North Carolina (8-3, 4-3; LW: No. 5) -- The Tar Heels get the award for most improved team in the second half of the season, and their defense has been simply outstanding consistently. Two defensive touchdowns in Chestnut Hill helped knock BC out of the running for the Atlantic Division, and UNC won its fourth straight game heading into NC State this weekend.
6. Florida State (6-5, 4-4; LW: No. 7) -- It wasn’t pretty, but the Seminoles managed to barely avoid an upset at home to a two-win Maryland team. It wasn’t the kind of defensive performance Mickey Andrews had probably hoped for in his final home game, but it was enough to get the job done and qualify the program for a bowl.
7. Boston College (7-4, 4-3; LW: No. 6) -- The Eagles’ home winning streak came to an end against UNC, and deservedly so after six turnovers. Quarterback Dave Shinskie has struggled in the past two games, but North Carolina’s defense deserves credit for disrupting him. BC has struggled all season long against stellar defenses, this time it just happened to occur in Chestnut Hill.
8. Duke (5-6, 3-4; LW: No. 8) --It was an admirable effort, but the Blue Devils likely won’t take much solace in any moral victories. Duke held a 16-10 lead against Miami early in the third quarter, and for the second straight year led by three points at the half, but the defense couldn’t stop the Canes from that point on and Duke’s bowl hopes came to an end.
9. Wake Forest (4-7, 2-5; LW: No. 9) -- The Demon Deacons had the week off to either sulk about their disappointing loss to Florida State or start getting ready for Duke. Both teams will enter their season finale under a cloud of disappointment, but two of the ACC’s better quarterbacks will try to finish their careers on a winning note.
10. Virginia (3-8, 2-5; LW: No. 10) -- The Cavaliers’ 21 points against Clemson were the most Virginia had scored in each of its past four games, but it wasn’t enough, as the Tigers made good second-half defensive adjustments and Virginia ran out of tricks -- and Mikell Simpson. Al Groh likely has one more chance to beat rival Virginia Tech.
11. NC State (4-7, 1-6; LW: No. 11) -- It’s been a painful season for the Pack, and the Hokies continued to lay on the hurt. Defense was once again the problem, as NC State rolled out the red carpet for Williams. While UNC’s offense won’t be their biggest challenge of the season this weekend, the Tar Heels’ defense could be.
12. Maryland (2-9, 1-6; LW: No. 12) -- This team deserves credit for not quitting this season, not even until the very last play of the fourth quarter in Tallahassee. It was a much better performance against FSU than probably most of us expected, yet it wasn’t enough. Staff changes everywhere but at the top seem imminent in College Park.