Who’s No. 2 in the ACC? Will the No. 2 team get a New Year’s Six bowl bid? That’s the biggest drama in the final regular-season ACC power rankings, with Clemson running away at No. 1 again.
1. Clemson. The Tigers made quick work of rival South Carolina, beating the Gamecocks for the third straight time as they head into the ACC title game on a two-game winning streak with a College Football Playoff spot there for the taking against Virginia Tech.
2. Florida State. Speaking of rivalry streaks, the Seminoles made it four straight against Florida, making FSU a combined 8-0 against its in-state rivals (UF and Miami) since 2013. Could the Noles edge Louisville for a New Year’s Six spot?
3. Louisville. That was quick. Two weeks after being on the brink of playoff talk, the Cardinals are now just fighting to make a New Year’s Six game after consecutive losses to Houston and Kentucky, the latter of which snapped a five-game losing streak to the rival Cards to put them at 9-3.
4. Virginia Tech. Justin Fuente’s debut campaign in Blacksburg has been an unquestionable success, as the Hokies will play in the ACC title game with the chance to play spoiler against Clemson. Icing on the cake: a dominant 52-10 win over rival Virginia to extend their Commonwealth Cup winning streak to 13 games.
T-5. North Carolina. As you can see, we ran into some trouble building a consensus here. UNC beat Miami and Pitt, but the Tar Heels ended the regular season with consecutive disappointing losses to Duke and NC State, when the Coastal Division was there for the taking.
T-5. Miami. Mark Richt’s debut campaign has been a season of fours, as the Hurricanes went from 4-0 to 4-4 and now 8-4, as Brad Kaaya broke the program’s career passing yards record in a 40-21 win over Duke.
T-5. Pitt. The Panthers offense has been very fun to watch this season, especially in recent weeks, as the unit is now up to 10th nationally in points per game. That said, giving up 61 points to Syracuse has to have plenty of people feeling uneasy in the Steel City, even if Pitt came out as 15-point winners.
8. Georgia Tech. Don’t look now, but the Yellow Jackets could very well be a nine-win team after last year’s 3-9 meltdown. They won at Georgia for the second straight time, using some late theatrics to steal the victory and end the regular-season on a three-game winning streak.
9. NC State. The Wolfpack were in control from the start Friday in Chapel Hill, beating rival UNC to get to bowl eligibility and assure a fifth season for coach Dave Doeren. This wasn’t the season Pack fans were hoping for, but all things considered, it could’ve ended much worse.
10. Boston College. On the subject of bowl eligibility, kudos to Steve Addazio and his group of dudes on getting a 13th game in three of the coach’s four seasons. The Eagles upset Wake Forest to win their second straight game and seemingly erase any doubts about Addazio’s return to Chestnut Hill for Year 5.
11. Wake Forest. This season will go down as a highly successful one in Winston-Salem, but losses like Saturday’s will also leave semi-greedy Demon Deacons fans wondering what could have been, as Wake won six games despite losing home tilts to both Army and BC.
12. Duke. The Blue Devils posted a valiant effort in the first half at Miami, but they just didn’t have the firepower to keep up with the Canes. Duke will stay home for the holidays for the first time in five years, but there’s enough young talent to keep fans optimistic and look at this 4-8 season as a mere speed bump.
13. Syracuse. Dino Babers had an uphill climb from day one, especially with all of the key injuries the Orange suffered. And while an upset over Virginia Tech earlier this season offers plenty of promise moving forward, they gave up 76 points Saturday to Pitt. Seventy-six.
14. Virginia. Bronco Mendenhall’s first season came to a merciful end Saturday against Virginia Tech, and it’s time to pick up the pieces from this 2-10 campaign and build toward what should be a promising future, as the Hoos played some good teams tightly this year (Louisville, Pitt) but were simply overmatched against others (UNC, VT).