In a role reversal from recent seasons, it’s the ACC’s Atlantic Division facing a bit of chaos heading into the final weekend, while the Coastal is all neatly wrapped up.
Pittsburgh’s win over Virginia on Saturday clinched the Coastal for Kenny Pickett and the Panthers, but Clemson’s win over Wake Forest means that Wake, Clemson and North Carolina State all remain in the hunt for the Atlantic.
The Demon Deacons' path to the crown is the simplest — beat Boston College and the title is theirs. NC State needs to win and have Wake lose. Clemson, which plays a nonconference game against in-state rival South Carolina, would need both Wake and State to lose to reach the league title game for the seventh straight year.
If those teams are the obvious choices for the top of our Lee Enterprises ACC Power Poll, the bottom is equally as clear. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke were nearly unanimous choices for the 12th, 13th and 14th positions.
Voters: Greg Madia and 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. Pittsburgh (9-2, No. 2 last week): The Panthers take over the top spot after outgunning Virginia 48-38 and clinching the Coastal. Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison just keep producing week after week and Pitt has earned itself a spot in the ACC championship game in Charlotte. Next: at Syracuse, Saturday.
2. Clemson (8-3, No. 4 last week): The Tigers have found some offense just in the nick of time and by knocking off the league’s presumptive top team — Wake Forest — last week, Clemson has staked its claim to, yet again, being the conference’s best team. Next: at South Carolina, Saturday.
3. Wake Forest (9-2, No. 1 last week): The question all year was, did Dave Clawson finally have a team built to go the distance? An odd nonconference loss to conference foe North Carolina was a red flag. Saturday’s loss to Clemson was a red light. Still, Wake doesn’t have to come to a full stop. Beat Boston College and it’ll end the Tigers’ run of divisional dominance. Next: at Boston College, Saturday.
4. North Carolina State (8-3, No. 3 last week): The Wolfpack overcame that early loss to Mississippi State and a slew of key injuries to hang around in the hunt for the Atlantic. They need a win over UNC and a Wake Forest loss to earn a division title. Next: North Carolina, Friday
5. Virginia (6-5, No. 5 last week): Brennan Armstrong’s return instantly returned the Cavaliers' offense to being one of the nation’s most explosive. Too bad Armstrong doesn’t play defense. That side of the ball, along with some ‘contributions’ from the special teams, sunk Virginia’s hopes of a Coastal title. Next: Virginia Tech, Saturday.
6. Louisville (6-5, No. 6 last week): Malik Cunningham is an undeniable star, but the Cardinals only beat one ACC team with a winning record this season (Boston College, which is 6-5). Still, they bounced back from losses to North Carolina State and Clemson by routing Duke and Syracuse. Next: Kentucky, Saturday.
7. North Carolina (6-5, No. 7 last week): The prohibitive favorite to win the Coastal in the preseason, the Tar Heels now have to beat in-state rival North Carolina State on Friday just to finish .500 in league play. Sam Howell missed the team’s non-league win over Wofford on Saturday but is expected to play against the Wolfpack. Next: at NC State, Friday.
8. Florida State (5-6, No. 9 last week): Three-point wins over Miami and Boston College have cooled the heat under coach Mike Norvell’s seat considerably. Ending the regular-season with a win over Florida — which just fired Dan Mullen — would make FSU bowl eligible and help bury the sting of the 0-4 start to this year. Next: at Florida, Saturday.
9. Miami (6-5, No. 10 last week): The Hurricanes bounced back from their late loss to rival Florida State by taking care of Virginia Tech on a rainy night in South Florida. A victory over Duke would clinch a winning season and give Manny Diaz five wins in his last six games. Next: at Duke, Saturday
10. Boston College (6-5, No. 8 last week): The Eagles had won two straight since getting quarterback Phil Jurkovec back from injury, before falling Saturday to Florida State. Now, BC has a chance to take Wake Forest out of the race for the Atlantic Division in its regular-season finale. Next: Wake Forest, Saturday
11. Syracuse (5-6, No. 11 last week): The Orange appears to be limping to the finish line, getting outscored 82-20 in back-to-back losses to Louisville and North Carolina State. With the division title sewn up, maybe Kenny Pickett and Pittsburgh will take it easy on Dino Babers’s crew this weekend. Probably not. Next: Pittsburgh, Saturday.
12. Virginia Tech (5-6, No. 12 last week): The Hokies, as has been the case so often in the last four years, played hard at Miami, but not particularly well. Now, interim coach J.C. Price will try to help Tech end its down season on a high note — by beating rival UVa and becoming bowl eligible. Next: at Virginia, Saturday.
13. Georgia Tech (3-8, No. 13 last week): A 55-0 drubbing by Notre Dame is behind them. A likely similar shellacking against Georgia is next. That would mean a third straight 3-win season for coach Geoff Collins. Is his seat starting to heat up? Next: Georgia, Saturday.
14. Duke (3-8, No. 14 last week): An early kickoff Saturday is good news for the Blue Devils. It means this season will be over sooner rather than later. With a loss to Miami, Duke would be the eighth team to go winless in league play since the ACC went to the divisional format in 2005. The Blue Devils already own three of those seasons. Next: Miami, Saturday.