With Pittsburgh losing to Miami on Oct. 30 and Wake Forest falling to North Carolina in a strange nonconference game between conference teams this past weekend, the ACC has been effectively eliminated from the College Football Playoff hunt.
Wake Forest remains in the driver’s seat for the Atlantic Division title, while the Coastal may well come down to next weekend’s Virginia-Pittsburgh game at Heinz Field.
Really, the only constant in the league has been Duke, which remains the unanimous choice for the bottom the power poll.
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 (8-1, No. 1 last week): It speaks volumes to the lack of quality in the league that the Demon Deacons can lose to North Carolina and remain at No. 1 in these rankings. Of course, they are still technically undefeated in league play, since the loss to the Tar Heels was considered a nonconference contest. Wake will need to bounce back for its divisional tilt against North Carolina State. Next: vs. NC State, Saturday
2. Pittsburgh (7-2, No. 2 last week): The Panthers dispatched of Duke and remain the favorite in the Coastal Division. That’s good enough to keep Kenny Pickett and company in the No. 2 spot this week. Next: vs. North Carolina, Thursday
3. NC State (7-2, No. 3 last week): The Wolfpack hasn’t let injuries derail them as they linger in the race for the Atlantic Division championship. This past weekend, State convincingly dispatched of Florida State on the road. Next up? Devin Leary and company take their shot at division leader Wake Forest. Next: at Wake Forest, Saturday
4. Virginia (6-3, No. 4 last week): UVa comes out of its open date with lingering questions about the health of star quarterback Brennan Armstrong. The Cavaliers host No. 7 Notre Dame in their final nonconference game before showdowns at Pitt and at home against rival Virginia Tech. Win those two, Virginia will defend its 2019 Coastal crown. Next: vs. Notre Dame, Saturday
5. Clemson (6-3, No. 5 last week): The Tigers’ offense might be finding itself a little here late in the year. It certainly should be up for a big outing this week when it hosts lowly UConn. Rallying for a fourth-quarter win at Louisville showed signs of life. Next: vs. UConn, Saturday
6. Miami (5-4, No. 6 last week): The Hurricanes needed a comeback win against Georgia Tech, but that’s certainly better than losing to the Yellow Jackets. Freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is coming into his own and joining the ranks of the league’s elite QBs. Next: at Florida State, Saturday
7. North Carolina (5-4, No. 10 last week): The Tar Heels were the preseason favorite to win the Coastal and possibly challenge Clemson for the league crown. Instead, UNC played spoiler and torpedoed the league’s playoff hopes by beating Wake Forest and knocking the Demon Deacons from the ranks of the unbeaten. Next: at Pittsburgh, Thursday
8. Syracuse (5-4, No. 7 last week): After back-to-back wins and an open date, the Orange now face consecutive divisional road games at Louisville and North Carolina State. Dino Babers’ team is one win away from becoming bowl eligible. Next: at Louisville, Saturday
9. Louisville (4-5, No. 9 last week): After letting a fourth quarter lead slip away against Clemson, the Cardinals have lost two in a row but have a chance to turn things around with games against Syracuse and Duke coming up. Next: vs. Syracuse, Saturday
10. Boston College (5-4, No. 13 last week): The Eagles got quarterback Phil Jurkovec back from an early season injury and took advantage of the offensively challenged Hokies on Friday night to snap a four-game slide. With Jurkovec back, Boston College could be a tough out the rest of the way. Next: at Georgia Tech, Saturday
11. Florida State (3-6, No. 11 last week): The Seminoles’ rivalry game against Miami has some juice now that both teams are playing better in the back half of the season. Manny Diaz is working himself off the hot seat, while Mike Norvell’s bunch needs to win out to make a bowl. Next: vs. Miami, Saturday
12. Virginia Tech (4-5, No. 8 last week): The struggling Hokies have lost four of their past five games. Things are ugly in Blacksburg. They will get infinitely worse if Tech can’t dispatch of Duke on Senior Day. Next: vs. Duke, Saturday
13. Georgia Tech (3-6, No. 12 last week): Remember the promise surrounding the Yellow Jackets after their close loss to Clemson and big win over North Carolina? Like a bee that dies after it stings, it’s been all been downhill since then. Next: vs. Boston College, Saturday
14. Duke (3-6, No. 14 last week): Coach Krzyzewski’s farewell tour kicked off with a big win over Kentucky on Tuesday night in New York City. Hopefully, that helped Blue Devil fans forget about the football team’s fifth straight loss. Next: at Virginia Tech, Saturday