2016 North Carolina Power Rankings: Week 7

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

Jasen Vinlove—USA Today Sports
North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) attempts a pass against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium.

One week after Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc on college football in N.C., all four ACC teams looked strong on the road. However, just one came away with a win as North Carolina’s defense finally showed up on the road against a stout Miami squad.NC State came one field goal away from taking down No. 3 Clemson, as Kyle Bambard went 1-for-4 in field goal attempts. Duke and Wake Forest never truly had a chance at a win against No. 7 Louisville and No. 13 Florida State, respectively, but put together solid performances.Outside the ACC teams, both NC A&T and NC Central continue to climb up the rankings, even finding themselves in front of traditional state powers. With Week 7 of the college football season wrapped up, here’s a look at the top 10 teams in the state, according to North State Journal sportswriters R. Cory Smith, Brett Friedlander and Shawn Krest.1. North Carolina (29) Last Week: 1The Tar Heels looked washed up against Virginia Tech in Week 6, but proved why they’re the best team in the state on Saturday at Miami. However, the damage was already done for UNC, dropping it to No. 2 on one poll.While the Heels aren’t the unanimous No. 1 anymore, Saturday presents another chance to flex their muscles against Virginia. The Cavaliers somehow beat Duke three weeks ago, but were trounced by Pittsburgh this past Saturday. Expect yet another rout in Charlottesville.2. NC State (28) Last Week: 2Bambard had not one, not two, but three chances to technically win the game for NC State on Saturday in Death Valley. Instead, he missed two straight up and had another kick blocked. Against the No. 3 team in the country, the Wolfpack went to overtime due to a special teams gaffe.That’s often referred to as NC State, um, we’ll say “stuff.”The Pack’s road doesn’t get any easier this Saturday, however, as it faces off with Louisville on the road. Equipped with one of the best defensive front sevens in the ACC, slowing down the Lamar Jackson train and coming away with a win would be a huge feat for Dave Doeren and Co.3. Wake Forest (20) Last Week: 3Similar to NC State, Wake Forest faced a tall task against Florida State over the weekend and came away with some respectability. No one is confusing the Demon Deacons with the powerhouses of the Atlantic Division yet, but they are certainly no pushover.Offensively, Wake never quite found its bearings against the Seminoles with just six points on 252 total yards. The statement was made by the Deacs’ defense, limiting the Noles to just 17 points and forcing four turnovers. Luckily, Wake has a chance to get right with a bye before facing Army at home.4. Appalachian State (19) Last Week: 4A weird Wednesday game did not throw Appalachian State off its game at Louisiana-Lafayette. The Mountaineers crushed the Ragin’ Cajuns to the tune of a 24-0 shutout win to move to 4-2 overall.The Sun Belt doesn’t offer many more challenging matchups with woeful opponents like Idaho, Georgia Southern and Texas State coming up next. But with other Division I programs around the state slipping up, App State can stay in the top five if the convincing wins keep on rolling.5. NC A&T (18) Last Week: 6Coming off a 10-2 season, NC A&T has another special season brewing in Greensboro. The Aggies are 5-1 after a third straight win against Bethune-Cookman behind the running game led by Tarik Cohen.Simply put, Cohen is putting the team on his back. After posting a 220-yard rushing, three touchdown game against Bethune-Cookman, Cohen is considered a leading candidate for FCS Player of the Year. And with a date against Howard this Saturday, expect another brilliant showing from Cohen and the Aggies.6. Duke (17)Last Week: 5There were plenty of positives to take away from Duke’s 24-14 loss at Louisville, but the result was the same. After falling to the Cardinals on the road, the Blue Devils are now 0-3 in the ACC (can’t count Notre Dame) and head into the bye at 3-4 on the season.David Cutcliffe is making baby steps with this year’s team, but that’s not quite enough to make it competitive in the ACC. With five contests remaining against teams that are a combined 22-11 at this point, the road back to a bowl game looks bumpy at best for Duke.7. NC Central (11) Last Week: 9Much like NC A&T, NC Central continues climbing up the NC power rankings thanks to a well-oiled machine on the offensive side of the ball. Since losing the first two games of the season to Duke and Western Michigan — the Broncos are now No. 20 in the AP Poll, by the way — NCCU has rattled off five straight wins with an average of 36 points per game.Quarterback Malcolm Bell is doing it all for the Eagles with more than 200 passing yards per game and 16 total touchdowns. While he threw for five interceptions against Savannah State — not great, Bob! — he led the team to a win. With the clash against the Aggies just over a month away, both MEAC schools are building up to what could be a classic in the rivalry.8. East Carolina (7)Last Week: 7The Pirates could hardly enjoy an off week after yet another trouncing at the hands of South Florida. After a close loss at South Carolina, ECU has lost it’s last three games by a combined total of 71 points. Heading to Cincinnati this weekend to face a team that’s on a two-game losing streak, the Pirates have a chance to get right or fall even further behind in the NC power rankings.T9. UNC Pembroke (6) Last Week: 10Since a tough loss to No. 11 Tuskegee on the road, UNC Pembroke has put together two impressive victories against Lenoir-Rhyne and Kentucky-Wesleyan. Pembroke didn’t climb very far in our rankings, but has gained in votes with six compared to four on the last list.Rontonio Stanley was the story against Lenoir-Rhyne with 192 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Patrick O’Brien then passed for 358 yards and two touchdowns against Kentucky-Wesleyan. The Braves are rolling and have a chance to keep making noise against a good Catawba team that has made its own appearance on this list earlier in the season.T9. Wingate (6)Last Week: NRSpeaking of Catawba, the only loss this season for Wingate was against the Indians to close out September. Since that point, the Bulldogs have run roughshod over three straight opponents for a combined total of 113-32.Blake Hayes put up a season-high four rushing touchdowns to go along with 126 yards on 18 carries — an average of seven yards per touch — in a 49-6 win over Lenoir-Rhyne. Going on the road to play Carson-Newman this weekend, look for Wingate to keep the win streak alive.Also listed: Louisburg (2), Campbell (1)