Before the 2013 college football season started at the end of August, there were only two Atlantic Coast Conference teams included in the AP Top 25 poll: Clemson and Florida State. The preseason poll had Clemson listed as No. 8 and Florida State at No. 11. The voters may have underestimated the potential of the two ACC powerhouses and their electrifying quarterbacks, but no one could have predicted the presence the underrated conference would have come week 7.
As of Sunday, four ACC teams sit confidently within the top 25, eager to prove themselves to an often skeptical national audience. Clemson and Florida State remain; in fact, the two teams have rocketed to No. 3 and No. 6, respectively, with only one Southeastern Conference team preceding them. No. 13 Miami and No. 24 Virginia Tech have also proved to be worthy competitors, and even Maryland enjoyed a short stint in the poll-induced limelight last week before a humiliating 63-0 loss to conference rival Florida State on Saturday.
At this same time last year, only Clemson and Florida State graced the top 25. A whopping seven SEC teams were ranked, and heck, even Lousiana Tech was ranked. The ratio has since changed. The ACC is creeping up on an SEC struggling to find its defensive identity against high-scoring offenses within its own conference and outside of it. Despite a nail-biter against Tennessee that resulted in a 34-31 win in overtime, the SEC-championship hopeful Georgia Bulldogs still fell in the polls, only to be jumped by a Jameis Winston-led Seminole squad. The freshman quarterback scored five touchdowns on 393 yards against the Terrapins and could have very well earned his team the impressive new spot.
Could these ACC teams climb even higher in the coming weeks? It’s hard to tell. Florida State has a bye week before it faces Clemson on Oct. 19. Although Clemson is expected to beat Boston College in Death Valley this weekend, it is nearly impossible that Alabama will fall to Kentucky. Oregon, however, is not invincible, and could possibly be upset on the road against No. 16 Washington. Miami will face North Carolina, and Virginia Tech will play Pittsburgh at home. Rankings shifts are inevitable, and based on the immediate matchups, it looks like these four are here to stay.