2016 North Carolina Power Rankings: Week 5

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

Melina Vastola—USA Today Sports
North Carolina Tarheels players celebrate after the win against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee

The unpredictability of college football continued yet again on Saturday, and North Carolina teams were no exception.Coming off a bye week, NC State rocked previously undefeated Wake Forest in Raleigh. The Tar Heels used a 54-yard field goal by Nick Weiler to win in Tallahassee, tomahawk chopping their way all the way back to Chapel Hill.While there were positives, there were plenty of negatives, too. Duke answered a signature win against Notre Dame with a loss to lowly Virginia. East Carolina dropped its third straight game and first at home after a fourth-quarter meltdown against UCF.Following Week 5, there was even more 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: 1One does not go into Tallahassee, come away with a win and not top the N.C. power rankings for a third straight week. The Tar Heels are giving up a lot of points, but still racking up wins thanks to a prolific offense.Any concerns about Mitch Trubisky as a quarterback have been answered through the first five games. The first-year signal-caller has passed for three or more touchdowns with 400-plus passing yards in the last three outings along with zero interceptions on the season. Trubisky also happens to lead the nation in completion percentage (76.0).The Georgia loss will continue to haunt this team similar to South Carolina last year, but the Florida State triumph is a signature win. That’s something the Heels never quite accomplished last year. With two ranked opponents in Virginia Tech and Miami coming up, UNC has a shot to capture two more.2. NC State (27) Last Week: 3Following the East Carolina loss, most NC State fans wrote this season off as another disappointment. The win over previously undefeated Wake Forest in convincing fashion gives Wolfpack faithful hope and propels the program to No. 2 on our list.Blessed with a wealth of playmakers like Jaylen Samuels and Matt Dayes, the Pack discovered yet another option in Kelvin Harmon. The freshman receiver scored his first touchdown, then another as NC State trounced Wake to the tune of a 33-16 final.The road ahead isn’t kind for the Wolfpack, with Notre Dame coming to Raleigh before traveling to Clemson and Louisville in consecutive weeks. But with a plethora of weapons at Ryan Finley’s disposal, this team has a chance to pull off some upsets over the next month.3. Wake Forest (24) Last Week: 2It was bound to end eventually. Wake Forest’s 4-0 start came to an abrupt halt at the hands of NC State on Saturday, knocking the Deacs just below the Pack. But a bounceback game is coming up for Wake in Winston-Salem.Struggles in the first quarter cost the Deacs a win in Raleigh for the first time in the last five meetings. Wake fell behind 17-0 before mounting a second-quarter comeback. However, the defense still allowed 33 points, the most it has surrendered all season.At 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the ACC, this can still be a huge year for Dave Clawson’s team. Facing Syracuse, Virginia and Boston College in conference play along with Army, there’s a good chance for at least eight wins. After totaling just six in Clawson’s first two seasons, a bowl game would be a big jump for Wake in 2016.4. Appalachian State (20) Last Week: 6How did a bye week helped improve Appalachian State’s position on our list? Well, let’s just say teams ahead of the Mountaineers didn’t exactly help themselves. With Duke and East Carolina dropping games over the weekend, App State finds itself inside the top five for the first time. Facing off with Louisiana-Lafayette (2-3) on Saturday, App State has a chance to keep climbing.5. Duke (16) Last Week: 4It’s hard to forget about a win in South Bend, but Duke did a pretty good job of erasing that from its fan’s memories on Saturday. The loss to Virginia, who was 1-3 with losses to lowly Richmond and Connecticut, was a huge setback for the Blue Devils.Daniel Jones threw five interceptions and fumbled the ball when he was crushed in the end zone in the fourth quarter. There weren’t many positives to take away from Saturday, and a bowl game no longer looks tangible with the likes of Louisville, Virginia Tech, UNC, Pitt and Miami left to play.6. NC A&T (14)Last Week: T8The Aggies are playing great football near the halfway point of the season and proved just that with a 31-9 win over Hampton on Thursday night. That win was enough for NC A&T to jump over traditional power ECU on the rankings after the Pirates lost a third straight game.A&T is getting the job done with a ground-and-pound mentality led by Tarik Cohen. The senior tailback is averaging 150.7 yards per game with six touchdowns through four games. With Norfolk State (1-4) coming to Greensboro on Thursday, expect the Aggies to maintain a highly-ranked spot on the N.C. power rankings.7. East Carolina (12) Last Week: 5Week 5 was supposed to be the rebound week for ECU against UCF. Despite just a 23-21 deficit heading into the fourth quarter, the Pirates were throttled by the Knights, 47-29, to drop to 2-3 on the season.After a 2-0 start, ECU has been unable to stop the bleeding under first-year coach Scottie Montgomery. Traveling to South Florida this Saturday, a 4-1 squad with its only loss against Florida State, isn’t exactly an easy opportunity for the Pirates to get back on track.8. Chowan (6)Last Week: 10Chowan was crushed by Campbell earlier this season, but has a 4-1 record after dismissing Johnson C. Smith in convincing fashion. The Hawks are 2-0 in the CIAA and face a 3-2 Bowie State team this Saturday. With Tyree Lee (407 rushing yards, five TDs) and Tyrone Carter (510 receiving yards, four TDs) leading the way, the Hawks look like a force in the CIAA this season.9. NC Central (5) Last Week: NRSimilar to Chowan, NC Central lost an early season matchup with an in-state opponent at Duke and Western Michigan. Since that point, NC Central has rattled off three straight wins by an average of 25.7 points. After taking down two consecutive MEAC opponents on the road, the Eagles return home with a chance to rout Florida A&M (0-4) and move to 3-0 in the conference.10. UNC Pembroke (4) Last Week: 7The Braves were dealt their first loss this season at the hands of Tuskegee, the No. 11 team in Division II. UNC Pembroke was previously No. 21 in the rankings, but has a chance to get right against a lowly Lenoir Rhyne (2-3) team and climb back up the power rankings.Also listed: Guilford (3), Wingate (2), Campbell (2)