Miami’s win over Pittsburgh dropped the Coastal Division back into its annual state of chaos. Add in the injury to Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong and that side of the ACC is wide open yet again.
The Panthers’ loss might also damage Wake Forest’s College Football Playoff hopes. The Demon Deacons' best path to the postseason included running the table and beating a strong Pitt team in the ACC championship game.
At the same time, North Carolina State and Clemson are making their bids to catch Wake Forest in the Atlantic.
About the only thing you can count on in the ACC is Duke being very, very bad.
Voters: John Shifflett (Charlottesville Daily Progress), Mike Barber and David Teel (Richmond Times-Dispatch), Aaron McFarling and Michael Niziolek (Roanoke Times) and Ethan Joyce (Winston-Salem Journal).
1. Wake Forest (8-0, No. 1 last week): Still the one. The ACC’s only undefeated team, the Demon Deacons checked in at No. 9 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. Add to that the fact that they’re underdogs at North Carolina on Saturday, and Wake should have a sizable chip on its shoulder despite being the league’s runaway best team at the moment. But hey, there’s no disrespect here. The Deacons received all but one of the first-place votes in the power poll. Up next: at North Carolina, Saturday.
2. Pittsburgh (6-2, No. 2 last week): The Panthers hold on to the No. 2 spot despite that jarring home loss to Miami. Still, Kenny Pickett and company remain the class of the Coastal Division. Not that that is saying all that much. With its home win over Clemson as its best victory, and head-scratching losses to Western Michigan and now the Hurricanes weighing down its résumé, it’s still fair to question just how good this Pitt team is. Up next: at Duke, Saturday
3. N.C. State (6-2, No. 4 last week): Despite all the injuries that have hit the Wolfpack, it registered a convincing home win over Louisville. That, combined with the earlier win over Clemson, has State positioned as the top threat to Wake Forest in the Atlantic. Assuming it can take care of business at Florida State this weekend, the Wolfpack’s Nov. 13 game at Wake will be a biggie. Up next: at Florida State, Saturday
4. Virginia (6-3, No. 3 last week): UVa narrowly holds onto the fourth spot in the poll despite a 66-49 loss at BYU that may also have cost the team Armstrong, who was making a bid to be the league’s player of the year. If Armstrong’s rib injury is serious — and if the Cavaliers can’t correct their defense — things could get ugly over the last month of the season. But for now, UVa still controls its destiny in the Coastal. Up next: Bye week
5. Clemson (5-3, No. 5 last week): No, the Tigers didn’t exactly break out offensively in their 30-20 win over FSU, one that included just three offensive touchdowns for the victors. But with the running of Will Shipley, that unit may finally be forging an identity. Still, Clemson needs Wake to stumble once before the teams meet later this month for it to have a shot at a sixth straight division title. Up next: at Louisville, Saturday
6. Miami (4-4, No. 8 last week): The U is back. Again. For the moment. Offer may expire at any time. Miami’s road win at Pittsburgh, coming on the heels of its win over N.C. State, means that, with a manageable back end of their schedule, the Hurricanes are at least back in the Coastal Division race and coach Manny Diaz has a better shot at keeping his job. Up next: vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday
7. Syracuse (5-4, No. 11 last week): After losing three straight to open ACC play, the Orange has now won back-to-back games over Virginia Tech and Boston College. Dino Babers’ team is one win away from becoming bowl eligible as it enters its off week. The final stretch — at Louisville, at North Carolina State and home against Pittsburgh — may make it difficult to get that final victory. Up next: Bye week
8. Virginia Tech (4-4, No. 13 last week): Maybe getting away from Blacksburg was exactly what the Hokies needed. Embattled coach Justin Fuente and his bunch scored a road win at Georgia Tech, the first of a stretch where it plays four of its final five games away from home. Most promising? The offense seems to waking up. Better late than never. Up next: at Boston College, Friday
9. Louisville (4-4, No. 6 last week): The Cardinals lost to North Carolina State and lost cornerback Kei’Trel Clark to injury in that game. Still, it has some winnable games on the back end of its schedule, including against Syracuse and Duke. Up next: vs. Clemson, Saturday
10. North Carolina (4-4, No. 7 last week): The Tar Heels have alternated wins and losses the past six games and, if that pattern holds, it would upset Wake Forest on Saturday. Well, maybe upset is the wrong word. Vegas made UNC a 2½-point favorite over the undefeated Demon Deacons in Chapel Hill. Up next: vs. Wake Forest, Saturday
11. Florida State (3-5, No. 9 last week): The Seminoles had their three-game win streak snapped at Clemson this past weekend, but FSU has come a long way since losing to Jacksonville State in Week 2. Jordan Travis, Jashaun Corbin and Treshaun Ward give FSU one of the top rushing attacks in the nation. Up next: vs. N.C. State, Saturday
12. Georgia Tech (3-5, No. 10 last week): The Yellow Jackets could have made themselves a middle-of-the-pack team with a home win over Virginia Tech. Instead, they let the Hokies right their ship and, in doing so, kept themselves squarely in the bottom fourth of the league. Up next: at Miami, Saturday
13. Boston College (4-4, No. 12 last week): Man, the Eagles' 4-0 start seems like a distant memory. The team has dropped four straight now following this past weekend’s 21-6 loss at Syracuse. The offense understandably hasn’t been the same since losing quarterback Phil Jurkovec in Week 2. BC has scored just 13.3 points per game in ACC play. Up next: vs. Virginia Tech, Friday
14. Duke (3-5, No. 14 last week): The Blue Devils have a massive opener against Kentucky next week at Madison Square Garden, the debut game for heralded freshman Paolo Banchero. That’s right, folks. It’s basketball season in Durham. Up next: vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday