2016 North Carolina Power Rankings: Week 4

North State Journals sports staff picks their top college football teams from the state each week.

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
The North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate after the college football game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill

Saturday was a memorable one for some N.C. teams, and a forgettable one for others. In the case of North Carolina and Duke, wins over Pitt and Notre Dame, respectively, were moments their fan bases won’t soon forget.East Carolina, on the other hand, wants to distance itself as much as possible from a drubbing in Blacksburg.Wake Forest dispatched Indiana in Bloomington without its quarterback and an emerging star running back in the backfield. The Demon Deacons are rolling heading into Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday to face NC State, which enjoyed a bye week.Following Week 4, there was quite a bit of shakeup in the N.C. landscape, with Shawn Krest, Brett Friedlander and myself all differing on several teams. Here’s a look at where the top college football teams stand in the state.1. North Carolina (30) Last Week: 1The Tar Heels were up against the ropes with one final drive to take down Coastal Division foe Pittsburgh. After 17 plays and a miraculous two-yard heave from Mitch Trubisky to Bug Howard, UNC remains at the top of the N.C. power rankings.Earning the win masked a bevy of miscues early on, including a safety and fumble on the first two drives. It was also Trubisky’s breakout game as he passed for 453 yards and five touchdowns, with Ryan Switzer hauling in an ACC-record 16 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown.Another huge test lies ahead on Saturday for UNC in Tallahassee against Florida State. With both teams looking to stay in the race for the ACC Championship, this weekend will be a crucial win for either team to stay near the top of their division.2. Wake Forest (27) Last Week: 3Dave Clawson is known for turning around programs, but this season is shocking for even Wake Forest fans. The Demon Deacons are 4-0 with a conference win and triumph over a bowl team from last season (Indiana) in hand.While the Hoosiers bested the Deacs in total yards (611-352) and first downs (25-21), Wake’s defense was the difference. Keyed by five interceptions and a 55-yard pick-six from Jessie Bates, Wake remained undefeated to move up the rankings.In order to stay at No. 2, the Deacs will need another great road performance against NC State. After losing the last two meetings by a combined total of 77-30, Saturday’s game will prove where Wake truly stands in the state.3. NC State (23) Last Week: 4The bye helped NC State in the rankings solely because East Carolina had such an embarrassing performance. At 2-1 heading into an in-state showdown with the aforementioned Deacs, the Wolfpack face a “must-win” situation ahead of Notre Dame and an Atlantic Division gauntlet.4. Duke (22) Last Week: 5If you had Duke going on the road in South Bend and coming away with a win, you might want to buy a lottery ticket this week. Coming off two offensively-challenged losses against Wake Forest and Northwestern, the Blue Devils put up 38 points in the shocking win over the Irish.Following the Duke win, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder was fired by Brian Kelly. This might not be the year where beating Notre Dame is especially memorable, but taking down the Irish is never an easy task for any program.Duke is riding high despite its 2-2 record heading back to Durham to take on lowly Virginia. With the Hoos and Army over the next two weekends at home, the Blue Devils have a chance to climb in the rankings before facing the Louisville and the Lamar Jackson train on Oct. 14.5. East Carolina (18) Last Week: 2The Pirates exited South Carolina with a confidence that reducing miscues might have propelled them to a win. ECU did not leave Blacksburg with that same feeling after a 54-17 curb stomping at the hands of Virginia Tech.While ECU’s offense was getting smothered into submission by the Hokies’ defense, Jerod Evans was crushing the Pirates’ defense. Evans passed for three touchdowns in the first half and rushed for a 55-yard score in the second half.A second-half surge for ECU’s offense was not enough to overcome a 38-0 deficit in the first two quarters. With AAC play starting on Saturday and UCF coming to Greenville, the Pirates have a chance to get right against the Knights, who are also 2-2 to start the season.6. Appalachian State (14) Last Week: 6Despite being down leading receiver Jaquil Capel, quarterback Taylor Lamb passed for 280 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Akron. Lamb’s big day along with Jalin Moore’s absurd 257-yard, two rushing touchdown outing gave App State its first road win on the season.It’s difficult to get a good read on the Mountaineers through the first four games after a close loss to Tennessee and drubbing at the hands of Miami. But in a conference with Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Lafayette serving as the powerhouses, the Mountaineers still have a shot to claim the Sun Belt and make a bowl game.7. UNC Pembroke (12) Last Week: 7Pembroke just keeps chugging along after a 49-35 win over North Greenville to remain undefeated. The Braves are winning by an average of more than two touchdowns per game behind Patrick O’Brien’s 13 total touchdowns (10 passing, three rushing).Traveling to Tuskegee, Ala. this Saturday, Pembroke has a chance to claim its third straight road victory after going 1-4 away from Robeson County last year. With both teams currently at 4-0 on the year, Saturday will be the Braves’ biggest test of the season.T8. Campbell (8) Last Week: NRThe Camels are finally finding their stride under head coach Mike Minter after a hard-fought 33-27 overtime win against Butler. After receiving a single vote last week in our rankings, Campbell was in every top 10 from our writers this week.Behind an offense averaging 447.5 yards per week and the dual-threat ability of quarterback Elijah Burress, Campbell is eyeing its first winning season under Minter. It would also mark the first since 2011, giving the Camels a rightful place inside the state’s top 10.T8. NC A&T (8) Last Week: 8A bye week came at the perfect time for NC A&T prior to three straight Thursday night games, beginning with Hampton this week. The Aggies have a chance to showcase their program on ESPNU and prove why they deserve to move up the N.C. power rankings in the coming weeks.10. Chowan (2) Last Week: NRAn early loss to Campbell hasn’t broken the spirit of Chowan, who won its second straight game while scoring 35-plus points in both. With three straight games in Murfreesboro against CIAA opponents, the Hawks have a favorable schedule to remain on the list.Also listed: Wingate (1)