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ACC rankings: Florida State strengthens hold atop standings

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The ACC is looking as if it will have a playoff participant after Florida State held off Notre Dame last Saturday. The Irish were FSU's last on-field impediment, and the Seminoles look like a lock to be in the four-team field. In addition, Clemson remains in the hunt for an Orange Bowl bid. But there's a lot of jockeying for the other bowl spots, with every other league team except Syracuse and Wake Forest looking as if it could get a postseason berth.

1. Florida State (7-0, 4-0 in ACC)

Up next: at Louisville, Thursday, Oct. 30
The skinny: FSU has survived two legitimate upset attempts at home, by Clemson and Notre Dame. Now comes a road test. Louisville is hoping it can put a scare into the Seminoles, though the Cardinals' offense certainly isn't going to worry the 'Noles.

2. Clemson (5-2, 4-1)

Up next: vs. Syracuse, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: The offense struggled without injured QB Deshaun Watson, but the Orange shouldn't provide much of a threat this weekend.

3. Duke (6-1, 2-1)

Up next: at Pitt, Saturday, Nov. 1
The skinny: By the time the Blue Devils next take the field, they could be all alone in first place in the ACC Coastal. As it is now, they're in a three-way tie with Virginia (which they just beat) and Pitt (which they play next).

4. Louisville (6-2, 4-2)

Up next: vs. Florida State, Thursday, Oct. 30
The skinny: Coach Bobby Petrino needs to find a way to rev up his offense if he wants his team to upset FSU. The defense should do its part, but the offense is a big concern.

5. Virginia (4-3, 2-1)

Up next: vs. North Carolina, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: Speaking of offenses that need to be revved up, here's Virginia. By the way, Saturday's game will be the 119th meeting between the Heels and Cavs, tying it for the third-most-played rivalry in college football history.

6. Georgia Tech (5-2, 2-2)

Up next: at Pitt, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: The memories of a 5-0 start have faded quickly, and if the run defense doesn't make a big leap this weekend, a three-game losing streak is a distinct possibility.

7. Pittsburgh (4-3, 2-1)

Up next: vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: Don't expect either team to do much passing Saturday, as both want to run and neither is that consistent throwing the ball. One positive for Pitt: Its run defense is a lot better than Georgia Tech's.

8. Miami (5-3, 2-2)

Up next: vs. North Carolina, Saturday, Nov. 1
The skinny: TB Duke Johnson ran wild Thursday night in leading the Hurricanes to a big road win over Virginia Tech.

9. Virginia Tech (4-4, 1-3)

Up next: vs. Boston College, Saturday, Nov. 1
The skinny: Virginia Tech has to pick up the pieces after its offense sputtered and run defense collapsed against Miami.

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10. Boston College (4-3, 1-2)

Up next: at Wake Forest, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: If BC has any designs on going bowling this season, it needs to beat Wake Forest. That shouldn't be all that difficult.

11. North Carolina (3-4, 1-2)

Up next: at Virginia, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: UNC's offense has been quite impressive of late. But Virginia's defense might be the best the Tar Heels see all season.

12. North Carolina State (4-4, 0-4)

Up next: at Syracuse, Saturday, Nov. 1
The skinny: The Wolfpack have lost four in a row, and have this week off to stew about their predicament. A shaky defense remains a big issue.

13. Syracuse (3-4, 1-2)

Up next: at Clemson, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: The Orange got its first league win last week against Wake Forest. It seems extremely likely the conference winning streak ends at one.

14. Wake Forest (2-5, 0-3)

Up next: vs. Boston College, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: It's hard to win games when your offense averages 206.7 yards per game. Get this: 67 teams average more than that per half.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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