As noted about this time last month, it's not hard to rank teams based on accomplishments. But 7-5 is glorious to some teams and dreadful to others. It all depends on the context.
With everyone in the ACC through eight games and October coming to a close, it's a good time to re-evaluate how happy the realistic contingents among the conference's fanbases are (or at least probably should be). Last month's rankings included as well.
1. N.C. State (6-2, last month: 1). The Wolfpack is bowl eligible before the end of October for the first time since 2003 and can win the Atlantic Division by winning out. Sure, the loss to East Carolina stung, but better to lose out of conference. The amusing thing, of course, is many N.C. State fans are conditioned to expect bad things around every turn. Here's hoping Wolfpack supporters are enjoying the season to date.
2. Maryland (6-2, last month: 4). The Terrapins might not have a signature victory, but they are doing a fine job of upending struggling teams. They're bowl eligible a year after going 2-10, just dropped 62 points on Wake Forest and have a real chance to be an Atlantic Division factor deep into November. Are they a little unproven still? Sure. But after last year, Maryland fans should be ecstatic --- and perhaps even interested in pushing attendance at Byrd beyond 40,000 in three weeks.
3. Virginia (4-4, last month: 2). The Cavaliers are playing in front of more than 20,000 empty seats, so clearly fans aren't quite this satisfied. But with four victories, Virginia supporters should be pleased with how this season has unfolded. The Cavaliers won't go 0-for-the-ACC, and might even manage a .500 record. Given the circumstances (yes, that's an Al Groh reference), Virginia has exceeded expectations thanks to its upset of Miami.
4. Virginia Tech (6-2, last month: 11). A six-game winning streak doesn't erase the memory of the loss to James Madison (realistically, the Boise State setback is excusable, but the Hokies are in better shape in the conference race than anyone. Like Maryland and N.C. State, they control their own destiny. Unlike those teams, the Hokies can lose any one of their remaining conference games and still be in a secure spot. Oh, and there's a Thursday night game at Lane Stadium this week. That usually makes a Hokie crowd happy.
5. Florida State (6-2, last month: 5). The Seminoles would be first or second with a victory against N.C. State, but that's life. Instead, the Seminoles are still in decent shape in the conference and are poised to pounce if and when the Wolfpack stumbles next (possibly against Clemson next weekend). The pieces are in place to make a conference title run, and to beat Florida as well. Get one of the two, and Florida State backers should be pleased.
6. North Carolina (5-3, last month: 9). Things get a little trickier here, but the assumption is Tar Heels fans have recalibrated expectations in the wake of player suspensions and the NCAA investigation. Sure, the defeat of William and Mary was completely ugly, but no matter. The Tar Heels appear headed for a bowl game, and 7-5 isn't completely unthinkable. T.J. Yates has performed steadily all season, and there is still enough to knock off some combination of Florida State, N.C. State and Virginia Tech. Things could be much worse.
7. Georgia Tech (5-3, last month: 12). Sure, the loss at Clemson stunk and it's evident the Yellow Jackets aren't as good as they were in 2009. But the Kansas loss is the only true humiliation endured, and there's still a decent chance to win eight games in the regular season. That's not great compared to Paul Johnson's first two campaigns, but having a down year that is still better than an average Chan Gailey season isn't the worst thing in the world.
8. Duke (2-6, last month: 10). It's basketball season in Durham, so there can't be too much unhappiness. Nonetheless, while the record is disappointing, the Blue Devils only got demolished once in October and had a chance to beat Maryland. The possibility of 4-8 still exists, and while that isn't great, it's not a substantial step backward in what was an obvious rebuilding year.
9. Miami (5-3, last month: 3). Yes, the Hurricanes have fallen short of expectations, and a Jacory Harris injury pretty much changes the calculus of how the final month is viewed. But Miami is still well on its way to a bowl game and remains in better shape than how coach Randy Shannon found it. Not saying that's good enough; just saying it's not as bad as what three other fanbases face right now.
10. Boston College (3-5, last month: 7). The Eagles avoid the cellar thanks to Saturday's defeat of Clemson, though quite a few Boston College fans might disagree. The first two months were always going to be tougher than November, though losing at home to Notre Dame and Maryland understandably was aggravating. A chance remains, however, to snag a bowl berth with three wins against an underwhelming slate in the final four games.
11. Clemson (4-4, last month: 6). The Tigers' schedule is difficult, and 7-5 was going to be a good year even if the team looked to be a little better than that in terms of talent. But dropping a close game at a Boston College team that had lost five in a row coming in ... well, that's so Clemson. The Tigers will somehow win two of the next four and go to a bowl, but they're just as erratic --- and, I imagine, difficult to follow --- as ever.
12. Wake Forest (2-6, last month: 8). Because regardless of expectations and program history, no one can be remotely satisfied with a six-game losing streak featuring noncompetitive road losses by scores of 68-24, 31-0, 52-21 and 62-14. The Demon Deacons' average margin of defeat away from the Dash: 38.5. Yuck.