Week 9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference proved to be the calm before the storm.
Nearly all of the top teams took care of business against inferior opponents, moving onto more important matchups in Week 10.
Two of those matchups, as it turns out, will go a long way towards determining which teams will represent the conference in December’s ACC Championship Game as the top two teams from both the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions face off this weekend.
How does the conference line up in this week’s rankings heading into an especially crucial week?
1. Miami (7-0, 5-0 in ACC, no change from last week’s rankings)
It was far closer than the 21-point spread given by Vegas, but the Hurricanes clung to a 24-19 win in Chapel Hill over UNC. Miami remains undefeated and is a College Football Playoff contender, but has won by eight points or less in each of the last four weeks. Will that catch up with the ’Canes down the stretch?
Up next: UM’s most difficult remaining challenge on its regular season schedule comes this weekend when an upstart Virginia Tech team, whose only loss was to Clemson, comes to Miami for a matchup that will likely determine the Coastal winner.
2. Clemson (7-1, 5-1, no change)
Georgia Tech’s triple option attack proved no problem for Clemson’s stifling defense as the Tigers held the Yellow Jackets to less than five yards per carry in a 24-10 win at home.
Up next: Clemson may not lead in the Atlantic Division, but it does control its own destiny. The Tigers get the chance to take the lead this weekend on their road trip to NC State.
3. Virginia Tech (7-1, 3-1, up one spot)
VT’s defense made its claim as the conference’s best Saturday, holding Duke to 183 yards of offense in Virginia Tech’s 24-3 win in Blacksburg.
Up next: Like Clemson, the Hokies have an opportunity to take control of their division this weekend if they are able to knock off the undefeated Hurricanes in Miami.
4. NC State (6-2, 4-0, down one spot)
NC State’s six-game win streak came to a screeching halt Saturday when the Wolfpack ran into the buzzsaw that is Notre Dame as the Irish won convincingly in South Bend, 35-14.
Up next: The Wolfpack gets its chance for revenge from a season ago this weekend, looking to put its traumatic loss to Clemson in 2016 behind it. A NC State win would nearly clinch the Atlantic Division.
5. Georgia Tech (4-3, 3-2, no change)
GT looked totally outclassed in Clemson Saturday, falling 24-10 to the Tigers to show that, although there has been improvement, there is still plenty more room for growth.
Up next: The Yellow Jackets look to bounce back and avoid a three-game losing streak on the road this weekend when they head to Charlottesville to take on Virginia.
6. Wake Forest (5-3, 2-3, up three spots)
The Demon Deacons blew up offensively, led by quarterback John Wolford, who had 461 passing yards and five touchdowns in Wake’s 42-32 win over Louisville.
Up next: Wake Forest needs just one more win to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive year. Unfortunately, that win will be hard to come by this weekend on the road against 7-1 Notre Dame.
7. Boston College (5-4, 3-3, up four spots)
Friday brought a historic win for BC as the Eagles throttled Florida State at home, winning 35-3 for the program’s first ever win over Jimbo Fisher in eight attempts.
Up next: The Eagles, once thought to be dead in the water, have likely saved Steve Addazio’s job with their unexpected and upset-loaded three-game winning streak. They are on bye this weekend and need a single win in their last three games to become bowl eligible.
8. Louisville (5-4, 2-4, down two spots)
The Cardinals suffered their second disappointing loss in three weeks, this time finding themselves on the losing side of a 42-32 game at Wake Forest on Saturday.
Up next: UL has its bye this weekend as it prepares for its final three games of the regular season.
9. Virginia (5-3, 2-2, down one spot)
After losing 31-14 at Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Cavaliers have squandered their best two chances to get to the all-important six-win mark in back-to-back weeks..
Up next: The Cavaliers do return home this weekend, but have the challenge of going up against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
10. Syracuse (4-4, 2-2, no change)
The Orange, needing to go 2-2 in its final four games, was off last weekend.
Up next: A matchup that once looked daunting, a road trip to Florida State, now looks quite winnable for Syracuse.
11. Florida State (2-5, 2-4, down four spots)
FSU’s lost season reached a new low Friday night in an embarrassing 32-point loss to Boston College which is quite possibly the worst loss of Jimbo Fisher’s coaching career.
Up next: Out of mulligans if they desire to keep their lengthy bowl streak intact, the Seminoles welcome in Syracuse this weekend.
12. Duke (4-5, 1-5, down one spot)
Duke’s defense kept it relatively close, but the Blue Devils were almost entirely unable to move the ball in their 24-3 loss at Virginia Tech Saturday.
Up next: Duke gets its bye this weekend before its final three-game stretch, of which it needs to win two to become bowl eligible.
13. Pittsburgh (4-5, 2-3, no change)
Pitt notched its biggest win of the year Saturday, soundly beating Virginia at home behind 176 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground.
Up next: The Panthers are on bye this weekend, gearing up for their final three games.
14. North Carolina (1-8, 0-6, no change)
UNC played one of its most competitive conference games against one of the ACC’s best teams, but still came up short, falling 24-19 to Miami as the Tar Heels’ losing streak is now at seven games.
Up next: North Carolina is off this weekend before its best remaining chance to notch an ACC victory this season, a Thursday stint at Pittsburgh on November 9th.