It finally happened. The final undefeated ACC team, Clemson, who had gotten away with playing down to the level of an inferior opponent on multiple occasions, lost. But the chaos did not end there. Three of the top five and five of the top seven teams from last week’s power rankings lost in week 11. What kind of power shift did that cause in this week’s rankings?
1.Louisville (9-1, 7-1, up one spot from last week)
The Cardinals reclaim the top spot after six weeks in the No. 2 spot thanks to a dominant 44-12 win over Wake Forest and, more importantly, Clemson’s home defeat at the hands of Pitt. With last weekend’s developments, the ACC has a significantly higher chance of getting two teams into the College Football Playoff but Louisville would be reliant on likely not going to the ACC Championship (Clemson has the tiebreaker) and could be kept out by a weak schedule (UL has only one Top-25 win).
Next up: The Cards have the tough but perhaps not as tough as originally anticipated task of traveling to Houston for a Thursday night matchup with the Cougars. UH may have fallen off after a hot start but the Cougs have a 14-game home winning streak, second longest in the nation.
2. Clemson (9-1, 6-1, down one spot from last week)
Clemson played with fire one too many times and finally got burned. A last second field goal from Pitt’s Chris Blewitt handed the Tigers their first loss of the season. Luckily for them, the Tigers still control their own fate and will win the Atlantic Division if they are victorious this weekend.
Next up: That final chance to clinch the Atlantic Division comes in a matchup between Clemson and Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. If the Tigers win, they take the division. If they lose, the trip to Orlando goes to Louisville.
3. Florida State (7-3, 4-3, up two spots from last week)
FSU was one of the few teams near the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference to avoid the upset last weekend as the Seminoles thoroughly dismantled Boston College on Friday night, 45-7.
Next up: Florida State travels north this weekend to take on a reeling Syracuse team that will likely be without its starting quarterback. Expect junior running back Dalvin Cook to become FSU’s all-time leading rusher on Saturday as he currently trails Warrick Dunn by 18 yards.
4. Virginia Tech (7-3, 5-2, down one spot from last week)
With a chance to clinch the Coastal Division, the Hokies came up flat, falling at home to Georgia Tech, 30-20, falling out of the polls in the process. However, VT still controls its own destiny thanks to the other goings-on in the conference over the weekend.
Next up: Ahead of its final conference game of the year, Virginia Tech must travel to South Bend this weekend for a showdown with a 4-6 Notre Dame team that is desperate to remain in contention for postseason play.
5. North Carolina (7-3, 5-2, down one spot from last week)
In another week 11 shocker, UNC blew a 14-0 lead and proved unable to score any fourth-quarter points in a 28-27 loss at Duke last Thursday. In an unfortunate set of circumstances, had the Tar Heels won last week, they would be in the driver’s seat in the Coastal after the VT loss.
Next up: North Carolina has a non-conference break to take on the Citadel before taking part in its final ACC game the following week.
6. Pittsburgh (6-4, 3-3, up two spots from last week)
Pitt became bowl eligible in the most surprising way possible, taking a victory out of Death Valley and snapping Clemson’s 22-game home winning streak on a last-second field goal. Panthers QB Nathan Peterman shined bright, throwing for 308 yards and five touchdowns in the massive upset.
Next up: Pittsburgh looks to carry its momentum forward when the Panthers return home this week to take on a Duke team fresh off an upset of its own.
7. Miami (6-4, 3-3, down one spot from last week)
Miami overcame a slow start and a narrow 17-14 halftime lead to soundly beat Virginia in Charlottesville, 34-14. Running back Mark Walton stood out in the victory, going for 111 yards and a touchdown to cement bowl eligibility for the Hurricanes.
Next up: UM stays on the road this week, this time traveling to the Triangle to take on NC State in Raleigh.
8. Wake Forest (6-4, 3-3, down one spot from last week)
Wake played well for 30 minutes at Louisville, opening up a 12-3 halftime lead before the Cardinals outscored the Demon Deacons 41-0 in the second half (34-0 in the fourth quarter alone). The Deacs may be bowl-eligible but there’s plenty of work left to do to become a more consistent Atlantic foe.
Next up: No rest for Wake Forest this week as the Demon Deacons follow up their road test at UL with a home game against an angry Clemson team fresh off its first loss of the season.
9. NC State (5-5, 2-4, no change from last week)
NCSU took advantage of a banged-up Syracuse team to come away with a 35-20 road victory in the Carrier Dome in an almost-necessary step towards bowl eligibility considering the final two games of the regular season.
Next up: The Wolfpack returns home this week to welcome in the Miami Hurricanes, with NC State needing one more win to achieve bowl eligibility.
10. Georgia Tech (6-4, 3-4, up one spot from last week)
Georgia Tech became bowl-eligible in upset fashion, jumping out to 20-0 lead at Virginia Tech and holding off a second-half rally from the Hokies to reach six wins, doubling the team’s 2015 win total.
Next up: GT returns to being favored this week as the Yellow Jackets look to run it up at home on a lowly 2-8 Virginia team.
11. Duke (4-6, 1-5, up two spots from last week)
In the first upset of the weekend, Duke dismissed rival North Carolina on Thursday night, winning 28-27 and putting a massive dent in UNC’s Coastal aspirations in the process while earning their first conference win of the season.
Next up: Fresh off the upset victory over an in-state rival, the Blue Devils hit the road this week to take on a Pitt team that just pulled off an upset of its own, knocking off No. 2 Clemson.
12. Syracuse (4-6, 2-4, down two spots from last week)
With starting quarterback Eric Dungey unavailable with a head injury, the Orange offense proved to be significantly less effective as Cuse fell at home to NC State, making the final two games of the season must-wins in order to attain bowl eligibility.
Next up: The first of those must-win games will prove extremely challenging. Syracuse welcomes in a Florida State team that has won four of five games while Dungey remains doubtful to be able to play.
13. Virginia (2-8, 1-5, down one spot from last week)
While upsets abound around the rest of the conference, Virginia put up little fight at home against Miami, falling 34-14. With this season now all but over, the Cavaliers look ahead to next year, the team’s second under Bronco Mendenhall.
Next up: UVA travels to Atlanta this week to take on Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense.
14. Boston College (4-6, 1-6, no change from last week)
BC’s road upset win over NC State is proven to be more and more of a fluke with each passing week. After a 45-7 blowout loss at FSU in week 11, Boston College has lost to the top four teams in the ACC (Clemson, UL, VT, FSU) by a combined margin of 202-24 and head coach Steve Addazio’s seat is smoldering.
Next up: The Eagles, who need wins in each of their last two games to become bowl-eligible, get their easier chance first as 3-7 UConn travels to Chestnut Hill this weekend.