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ACC Week 5 Power Rankings: Clemson remains on top with statement win

Clemson has a firm grip on the No. 1 spot after taking down Notre Dame, and the Tigers look to be the ACC's best team by far at this point. While Florida State holds at No. 2, North Carolina surges into the top three. Could the Tar Heels make a run at Florida State or Clemson, whether in the power rankings or on the field in the ACC championship game?

1. Clemson Tigers (4-0, 1-0). The ACC needed a marquee win, and Clemson delivered against Notre Dame. The Tigers' path to the playoff is looking pretty clear now, and with Deshaun Watson, those offensive playmakers and that defense, the Tigers have a good shot at an undefeated regular season. And is there a better assistant than Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables? He lost nearly every piece from the nation's No. 1 defense last season and yet has the Tigers back among the country's best.

2. Florida State Seminoles (4-0, 2-0). The Seminoles made it through a relatively easy first third of the schedule unscathed but didn't look great doing it. Now they enter their toughest stretch of the season, and they could be without Dalvin Cook, who is day-to-day because of a leg injury. Florida State was winning with defense and a strong running game, so it remains to be see if Everett Golson can pilot the offense without Cook.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (4-1, 1-0). Might the Tar Heels finally shed the label of an annual disappointment? They could have folded down three touchdowns to Georgia Tech, but the Heels rebounded in the second half to win in Atlanta for the first time in nearly two decades. Marquise Williams' performance avoided the second guessing of coach Larry Fedora, who stuck with Williams after benching him last week.

4. Duke Blue Devils (4-1, 2-0). The Blue Devils' offense is a work in progress, which is not a surprise considering the talent Duke lost after last season. The defense looks to be the real deal, however, and that might be enough to get Duke into the ACC championship game. Jeremy Cash is playing like an All-American, and the rest of the defense is following his lead.

5. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1, 1-0). Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi won his conference opener and did it with his trademark defense. Pitt held Virginia Tech to 100 yards of offense and continually harassed the Hokies' Brenden Motley. Qadree Ollison has filled in admirably for James Conner, but the Panthers need more production out of their quarterback, whether it's Nathan Peterman or Chad Voytik.

6. Louisville Cardinals (2-3, 1-1). After a horrendous start, Bobby Petrino seems to have his team settled down behind quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Cardinals have won two in a row and picked up a critical win against Atlantic foe NC State. For as bad as the season started, the Cardinals can still be a factor in the ACC race.

7. Syracuse Orange (3-1, 1-0). The Orange move up despite the open week because much of the ACC disappointed on Saturday. If Syracuse had a steady situation at quarterback, it might be ranked even higher. The defense is solid, and the ground game has been able to keep some pressure off the quarterbacks. Can the Orange compete for an Atlantic crown?

8. Miami Hurricanes (3-1, 0-0). Maybe Miami was looking ahead to Florida State, but that is not why the Canes lost. They led in the second half, but the game was completely mismanaged. Though Cincinnati is a talented team, Miami should have won the game. Al Golden's seat is on fire, and with a brutal schedule, the temperature probably will only increase.

9. NC State Wolfpack (4-1, 0-1). The Wolfpack were a doughy 4-0, and Louisville exposed them. The offense isn't nearly as good as it looked through a cupcake nonconference schedule, and the defense was up and down against the Cardinals. The Wolfpack didn't look like a team ready to take the next step in the ACC.

T-10. Boston College Eagles (3-2, 0-2). Injuries are derailing the Eagles' season. Their starting backfield is out, and they just can't generate enough offense against ACC teams. The defense is as good as any in the country, but Boston College might find itself on the losing end of slugfests a few more times this season.

T-10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-3, 0-2). Georgia Tech's season is unraveling after a third straight loss. Georgia Tech can still win the division because the Coastal tends to get crazy, but the two conference losses probably came against the division's two best teams. This was supposed to be a national contender, but instead the Jackets are maybe college football's biggest disappointment.

12. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-3, 0-2). Dave Clawson has this team moving in the right direction. The Deacs nearly upset Florida State, and don't be shocked if they win a few games they're not supposed to this season. Kendall Hinton is a spark plug on offense, and the defense is stout.

13. Virginia Tech Hokies (2-3, 0-1). Virginia Tech is a mess after securing only 100 yards of offense in its loss to Pitt. The Hokies are battling injuries, but the offense is inept. Patience within the fanbase is running thin. Frank Beamer promised improvement, but there is little reason to believe the Hokies will get significantly better.

14. Virginia Cavaliers (1-3). The Cavaliers were on a bye. Mike London needs a win in his ACC opener next week against Pitt.