ACC power rankings: Week 9

For the third straight week, there was no change at the top, where Florida State and Virginia Tech remain the teams to beat. Some of you have asked why I have the Hokies in the Orange Bowl but ranked No. 2 in the power rankings. That’s because Florida State lost to a top 10 team on the road and the Hokies lost to FCS James Madison, but I think they’re playing well enough now to beat the Noles in the title game. They’ve earned their spot in the ranking, though, with their 0-2 start. There was a slight change in the bottom of the ranking, as Virginia moved up a notch over BC with its third win.

1. Florida State (6-1, 4-0 ACC; LW: No. 1) -- The Seminoles had the bye week to heal (particularly important for quarterback Christian Ponder) and to prepare for Thursday night’s game at NC State. The game will go a long way in determining the Atlantic Division winner, and it’s arguably the Seminoles’ toughest remaining regular season game.

2. Virginia Tech (6-2, 4-0 ACC; LW: No. 2) -- The Hokies handled Duke with ease and now have a bye week to study the film of how Clemson stifled Georgia Tech’s offense. Ryan Williams got a chance to shake the rust off and should be back to his old self in time for a key Coastal Division game against Georgia Tech on Nov. 4.

3. Miami (5-2, 3-1 ACC; LW: No. 3) -- Against North Carolina, the Hurricanes’ defense looked like it did in the first half of the season, when it was smothering Pitt. Miami controls its own destiny, but can’t afford to flop in games it should win the next two weeks -- at Virginia and home against Maryland.

4. NC State (5-2, 2-1 ACC; LW: No. 6) -- The Wolfpack had a bye week to contemplate their loss to East Carolina and make any last-minute corrections before hosting Florida State on Thursday night. The Wolfpack didn’t get promoted this week for doing nothing, rather they were bumped up because Georgia Tech and UNC lost.

5. Clemson (4-3, 2-2 ACC; LW: No. 7) -- The Tigers snapped their four-game losing streak to Georgia Tech with a strong running game and solid defense. This team isn’t out of it yet -- especially if they continue to play the way they did on Saturday. FSU and NC State are still on the schedule, but Clemson can’t afford to look past BC this weekend.

6. Maryland (5-2, 2-1 ACC; LW: No. 8) -- The Terps got their first road win since September, 2008, and while it came against a bad Boston College team, Maryland still deserves credit for not squandering a 17-point lead and staying in the Atlantic Division race. The Terps can become bowl eligible this weekend with a win over Wake Forest.

7. Georgia Tech (5-3, 3-2 ACC; LW: No. 4) -- It’s one thing for a defense in transition to struggle, but for the Yellow Jackets’ offense to be held without a rushing touchdown is surprising. Clemson’s defense played well, but the Jackets don’t look like defending ACC champs, which is why they aren’t likely to get a chance to defend that title.

8. North Carolina (4-3, 2-2 ACC; LW: No. 5) -- The offense sputtered, and the defense, depleted first by suspensions and then by injuries, had to turn to two freshmen in the secondary after Mywan Jackson and Da’Norris Searcy were hurt. The four-game winning streak came to an end, and the Tar Heels’ hopes at an ACC title took a serious hit.

9. Wake Forest (2-5, 1-3 ACC; LW: No. 9) -- The Deacs had a bye week and boy did they need it. Wake Forest hasn’t won a game since it beat lowly Duke on Sept. 11. Now it has to travel to College Park to face a confident Maryland team one win away from bowl eligibility.

10. Virginia (3-4, 0-3 ACC; LW: No. 11) -- The Cavaliers move up a notch for their first FBS win, but stay below the Deacs, who at least have a conference win. Quarterback Marc Verica managed the game well and didn’t have any interceptions, but he’ll face a much better defense this weekend when Miami comes to town.

11. Boston College (2-5, 0-4 ACC; LW: No. 10) -- Not only did the Eagles lose at home to Maryland, they also lost one of their top starters and team captains in defensive end Alex Albright, whose season ended when he fractured his fibula. Starting safety Wes Davis and cornerback DeLeon Gause are also injured and day-to-day. It can’t get much worse for BC.

12. Duke (1-6, 0-4 ACC; LW: No. 12) -- The Blue Devils were thumped by Virginia Tech but still have a chance to salvage their season by finding a few more wins. It has to start this weekend in Annapolis against Navy. Duke’s defense has struggled all season, and is likely to do the same against Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs.