The final power rankings of 2013 are in, and Florida State owns No. 1 after winning its first national title since 1999. There was some movement after an ACC-record 11 teams played their bowl games, but not much. Here’s the final verdict for the ACC’s 2013 pecking order:
1. Florida State (14-0, 8-0 ACC; Previous ranking: No. 1): The Noles’ 34-31 win over No. 2 Auburn in the VIZIO BCS National Championship was one of the most thrilling of the 16-year BCS era, which came to an end with FSU on top once again. Trailing by four with 79 seconds left, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston orchestrated the game-winning drive and helped snap the SEC’s streak of seven straight national titles.
2. Clemson (11-2, 7-1; PR: No. 2): The Tigers’ thrilling 40-35 win over Ohio State in the Discover Orange Bowl gave the ACC a 2-0 record in BCS bowls, and Clemson finished with an 11-win season for the second straight year. Clemson became the only team in the nation to beat a top-10 team in a bowl game in each of the past two seasons.
3. Duke (10-4, 6-2; PR: No. 3): Duke gave Texas A&M everything it had in the Chick-fil-A Bowl before losing 52-48 to the Aggies and Johnny Manziel. The Blue Devils represented the ACC well, taking a 41-31 lead into the fourth quarter, but are still looking for their first bowl win since 1961.
4. North Carolina (7-6, 4-4; PR: No. 7): The Tar Heels made a jump in the ranking thanks to their convincing 39-17 win over Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. Ryan Switzer returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown to help the Heels win their first Belk Bowl in four tries. It was his fifth punt return for a touchdown this season, tying an NCAA record.
5. Virginia Tech (8-5, 5-3; PR: No. 4): This is where the rankings started to get particularly difficult, as the Hokies, Miami and Georgia Tech all lost their respective bowl games. We gave the nod to Virginia Tech, though, in spite of the 42-12 drubbing by UCLA because it was a respectable game until quarterback Logan Thomas was injured early in the second quarter.
6. Miami (9-4, 5-3; PR: No. 5): The Canes had no excuse for another porous defensive performance, this time in a 36-9 loss to incoming ACC member Louisville and standout quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Miami’s offense, meanwhile, was equally inept. The Canes were 0-for-11 on third downs in what was the final game for quarterback Stephen Morris.
7. Georgia Tech (7-6, 5-3; PR: No. 6): The Jackets ended the season with back-to-back losses to SEC opponents, including the 25-17 loss to Ole Miss. An interception in the final minute sealed the Rebels’ win, and Georgia Tech has now lost eight of nine bowls.
8. Pittsburgh (7-6, 3-5; PR: No. 11). The Panthers posted their first winning season since 2010, thanks in large part to the highly decorated Aaron Donald. The defensive tackle won every major defensive award he was nominated for after setting up camp in offensive backfields. Pitt was largely inconsistent for most of the season, but the Panthers did notch wins over Duke, Notre Dame and MAC champions Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Bowl.
9. Syracuse (7-6, 4-4; PR: No. 8). Give the Orange credit for the way they closed their first ACC season; consecutive last-second wins allowed them to finish above .500, a major victory considering the conference transition and new coaching staff. There were some ugly blowout losses, but Syracuse kept plugging away. Terrel Hunt showed major strides at the end of the year.
10. Boston College (7-6, 4-4; PR: No. 9). Not many expected the Eagles to make a bowl game or finish with a winning record. But maybe even more unbelievable was watching Andre Williams rush for 2,177 yards and finish fourth in Heisman voting. The Eagles had a wonderful turnaround season, but their bowl performance drops them here among the 7-6 teams.
11. Maryland (7-6, 3-5; PR: No. 10). On the plus side, the Terps made it to a bowl game and had a winning record for the first time under Randy Edsall, even without Stefon Diggs. On the minus side, they lost to Marshall in the bowl game. By double digits. Maryland only beat one ACC team with a winning record all season as injuries piled up once again. Good luck in the Big Ten!
12. Wake Forest (4-8, 2-6; PR: No. 12). Given all the returning seniors, coach Jim Grobe thought he had a bowl team on his hands. But offensive issues plagued this team once again, and were magnified when Michael Campanaro got hurt in November and missed the rest of the season. Grobe resigned in December after 13 years in charge.
13. NC State (3-9, 0-8; PR: No. 13). Safe to say Year 1 did not go the way anybody planned in Raleigh, the first winless ACC season since 1959. Injuries piled up, but quarterback problems were the biggest issue that could not be overcome. Dave Doeren hopes transfer Jacoby Brissett is the answer in 2014.
14. Virginia (2-10, 0-8; PR No. 14). Mike London has now posted consecutive losing seasons, turning up the heat in Charlottesville. The revamped staff remains largely in place, so the expectation is to see much improvement with another year in the scheme and contributions from some of the freshmen in the top 25 recruiting class London is projected to sign.