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Sapakoff: Georgia on top, UNC last in ACC/SEC football power poll 1-28

October 31, 2017

Sure, all the blowouts for Alabama. But the best Crimson Tide win?

Hard to make a case for Florida State (2-5) anymore.

Um … Texas A&M.

A bit better than Fresno State.

Georgia deserves the nod in a poll of SEC and ACC teams or a College Football Playoff ranking, if not with oddsmakers. The Bulldogs won at Notre Dame.

Alabama figures to get one shot at Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, maybe another in the playoffs.

Playoff contenders and Belk Bowl pretenders, ranked 1-28:

1. Georgia (No. 1 SEC), 8-0: No unit in college football has come along better than the Bulldogs’ offensive line, very suspect in August.

2. Alabama (No. 2 SEC), 8-0: Of course, Nick Saban Inc. will wind up No. 1 in all polls with wins over LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn and Georgia down the stretch.

3. Clemson (No. 1 ACC), 7-1: If Kelly Bryant is healthy enough or if Hunter Johnson is as capable in a backup role as many people project, the Tigers remain a fixture in the playoff conversation.

4. Auburn (No. 3 SEC), 6-2. The key is having running backs Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway healthy at the same time.

5. Mississippi State (No. 4 SEC), 6-2. That 37-7 beatdown of LSU and Saturday’s 35-14 win at Texas A&M.

N.C. State extremes

6. Virginia Tech (No. 2 ACC), 7-1. Tougher schedule (namely Clemson) and more impressive wins than Miami. But we’ll find out Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.

7. LSU (No. 5 SEC), 6-2. Aside from Ohio State, the most improved team in October.

8. Miami (No. 3 ACC), 7-0. Slow starts, mediocre foes, close wins. And yet a College Football Playoff contender.

9. N.C. State (No. 4 ACC), 6-2. Undefeated in the ACC but without a win over a presently ranked team. Lost to South Carolina.

10. Texas A&M (No. 6 SEC), 5-3. No team has played Alabama closer (27-19).

11. Boston College (No. 5 ACC), 5-4. Three wins in a row, including 35-3 over Florida State on Friday night.

12. Syracuse (No. 6 ACC), 4-4. Upset Clemson, respectable losses at LSU (35-26) and N.C. State (33-25).

13. Wake Forest (No. 7 ACC), 5-3. Defense does it for the Deacons.

14. Louisville (No. 8 ACC), 5-4. So up and down, the Cardinals fake fans out the way Lamar Jackson jukes tacklers.

15. South Carolina (No. 7 SEC), 6-2. Not that far from 8-0. And the combined SEC record of the four SEC teams the Gamecocks have defeated is 1-18 (Tennessee and Vandy 0-5, Missouri 0-4, Arkansas 1-4 with Saturday’s one-point win at Mississippi).

Bowl scramble

16. Georgia Tech (No. 9 ACC), 4-3. So ferocious when TaQuon Marshall is pitching to KirVonte Benson, or keeping. So inconsistent.

17. Florida State (No. 10 ACC), 2-5. The best 2-5 team in the U.S. is not the 2017 title Seminoles’ fans were looking for.

18. Pittsburgh (No. 11 ACC), 4-5. Consecutive wins over Duke and Virginia after opening with a tough schedule that included losses to Penn State and Oklahoma State.

19. Kentucky (No. 8 SEC), 6-2. Yes, a win in Columbia. But an even shakier 6-2 than USC: All six wins by 11 points or less, including Southern Miss, Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan.

20. Virginia (No. 12 ACC), 5-3. Progress for the oddly cast Bronco Mendenhall administration.

21. Florida (No. 9 SEC), 3-4. Jim McElwain made the mistake of driving in reverse in the Steve Spurrier/Urban Meyer lane.

22. Arkansas (No. 10 SEC), 3-5. A 26-point loss at South Carolina.

23. Mississippi (No. 11 SEC), 3-5. Go ahead, blame it all on ex-head coach Hugh Freeze.

24. Duke (No. 13 ACC), 4-5. Five straight losses. Somehow beat Northwestern.

25. Tennessee (No. 12 SEC), 3-5. Jon Gruden is not walking through that door.

26. Vanderbilt (No. 13 SEC), 3-5. Beat Kansas State and should probably consider a move to the Big 12.

27. Missouri (No. 14 SEC), 3-5. Probably could not beat Kansas State but should consider a move back to the Big 12.

28. North Carolina (No. 14 ACC), 1-8. The Tar Heels lead the nation in key injuries. Still, they might beat Western Carolina on Nov. 18.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff

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