ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week Eight

The Tar Heels May Be the Coastal Division’s Top Team, But Unfortunately, Are Ineligible to Play for the ACC Championship

The ACC continues to be a riddle, and as such, so do these power rankings. Beyond the top two, who’s a true conference championship contender? Will the Coastal champ finish with a better record than 4-4? Based on what we’ve seen so far, we’re really no closer to finding out any of this, but as we do every week, we’ll take our best guess here in the power rankings.

1. Florida State Seminoles (6-1) (3-1) (LW: 1): EJ Manuel had a field day against the BC secondary on Saturday, throwing for 439 yards and four touchdowns, en route to a 51-7 victory. Of course, it helps when your defense played the way it did, too. The Eagles came to town with one of the conference’s better passing attacks. They left with just 129 yards through the air, and a pick. If Florida State’s going to win themselves an ACC title, they’ll need to play at that level for the remainder of the season.

2. Clemson Tigers (5-1) (2-1) (LW: 2): The Tigers were off this past weekend, which may be the only thing that can slow this offense down. On Monday, OC Chad Morris mentioned to the Post-Courier that Sammy Watkins is “ready to break out,” which is something that should horrify opposing defenses. Should he finally get back to full-strength, Watkins adds yet another dimension to this group, making for an entertaining second half.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (5-2) (2-1) (LW: 6): If not for postseason ineligibility, UNC would be the Coastal division frontrunners, having already knocked off two of their three biggest competitors (and facing the third, Duke, this weekend). And if not for Giovani Bernard‘s injury earlier this season, perhaps this team would be in the top 25, too. Over the last two games — both big wins for the Heels — the sophomore’s amassed 485 total yards and four scores. As long as he stays healthy, Carolina’s likely to keep winning.

4. NC State Wolfpack (4-2) (1-1) (LW: 5): The Wolfpack are in the driver’s seat in the Atlantic division, but the jury’s still out on whether they’ll take full advantage or not. Through six games, we’re still unsure about the secondary — already lit up several times this year — and quarterback Mike Glennon‘s play has been mostly inconsistent (FSU comeback aside). Every remaining game is very winnable, but it will come down to their ability to execute late. All they have to do is win out, and they’ll find themselves playing for their first BCS Bowl trip.

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ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 7: EJ Manuel, Florida State

Florida State QB EJ Manuel is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 7

Each week, we’ll be identifying the best ACC player from that weekend’s games. As always, it’s a completely arbitrary award with no specific criteria beyond the vague concept of “excellence.” No, we don’t take write-ins.

ACC Player of the Week, Week Seven: EJ Manuel, QB/Florida State

Florida State bounced back nicely on Saturday, thoroughly beating Boston College by a final score of 51-7. Gone was the heavily criticized offensive strategy of just a week ago, and in its place was the high-powered attack that brought the ‘Noles all the way to number-three in the polls. Manuel, obviously the driving force behind that gameplan, was free to let loose in this contest, and the results were as positive as you’d expect. He finished the day 27-of-34 passing (79.4 percent), with 439 yards (a career-high) and four scores. Play-calling was aggressive for the entire game, and Manuel and head coach Jimbo Fisher refused to let up as they continued to pour it on. Hopefully for FSU, this offense — as opposed to the paltry one present for weeks five and six — is the one we see for the rest of the year.

Honorable Mention:

J.C. Coleman, RB/Virginia Tech (183 yards rushing, 2 TD)

Giovani Bernard, RB/North Carolina (203 total yards, 2 TD)

Stefon Diggs, WR/Maryland (239 all-purpose yards, 1 TD)

Darin Drakeford, LB/Maryland (7 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble)

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