As we head into bowl season, the ACC power rankings remain status quo from last week, with Virginia Tech at the top. Florida State had a chance to change that but couldn’t do it, falling to the Hokies 44-33 in the ACC championship game. The best team in the conference will represent the league against Stanford in the Discover Orange Bowl. Here’s a look at how the rest of the league shakes out heading into bowl season:
1. Virginia Tech (11-2, 8-0 ACC; LW: No. 1): Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the MVP of the ACC title game, couldn’t be stopped and the Hokies were phenomenal on third downs (13 of 18) against the Florida State defense. They’ll need more of the same against Stanford.
2. Florida State (9-4, 6-2 ACC; LW: No. 2): The Seminoles couldn’t make the stops defensively and lost the turnover battle. Backup quarterback EJ Manuel played a respectable game in place of injured quarterback Christian Ponder, but the Noles only had 53 rushing yards.
3. Maryland (8-4, 5-3; LW: No. 3): The Terps were hoping for a higher bowl than the Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman, but poor home attendance likely outweighed an eight-win season and the second-best turnaround in the FBS. Maryland beat NC State, but the Wolfpack got the better bowl.
4. NC State (8-4, 5-3; LW: No. 4): The Wolfpack will be making their first appearance in the Champs Sports Bowl, where it will face West Virginia (9-3) on Dec. 28 in the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. NC State is looking for its first bowl win in four seasons under coach Tom O’Brien.
5. Miami (7-5, 5-3; LW: No. 5): The Hurricanes’ unsettled coaching situation didn’t deter the Hyundai Sun officials from picking them, and despite their struggles, the matchup against Notre Dame will feature two programs with rich tradition.
6. North Carolina (7-5, 4-4; LW: No. 6): UNC will be making its third straight bowl trip under coach Butch Davis, but its first appearance in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, facing Tennessee on Dec. 30. It will be the first meeting between the two teams from neighboring states since 1961 and their first time facing each other in a bowl game.
7. Boston College (7-5, 4-4; LW: No. 7): The Eagles became the first ACC team to follow a five-game losing streak with a five-game winning streak. They’re heading back to San Francisco for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, where they’ll face a potent Nevada offense.
8. Clemson (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 8): The Tigers don’t have to travel far, as they’ll face South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. It’s the first meeting between the programs, and Clemson will be able to count on quarterback Kyle Parker, who decided to stick with the team instead of leaving early to prepare for his time with the Colorado Rockies.
9. Georgia Tech (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 9): The Jackets will face Air Force in the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. The game will feature two of the nation’s top rushing offenses, which means the defenses will make the difference.
10. Wake Forest (3-9, 1-7; LW: No. 10): The Deacs could use the extra bowl practices, but once again are home for the holidays. They at least have a road win over Vanderbilt to build off of heading into the offseason instead of a 10-game losing streak.
11. Duke (3-9, 1-7; LW: No. 11): Fortunately for Blue Devils fans, it’s basketball season, but those within the football program are confident they’re still taking steps in the right direction to make Duke a contender.
12. Virginia (4-8, 1-7; LW: No. 12): Recruiting will be key for the staff in the offseason, as it’s the only way to turn things around in Charlottesville. So far, coach Mike London has that going in the right direction.