2016 North Carolina Power Rankings: Week 8

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

Amber Searls—USA Today Sports
North Carolina Tar Heels running back Elijah Hood (34) celebrates with teamates after scoring a touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first quarter at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville

College sports are so strange at times. A week after coming one chip shot field goal away from beating Clemson, NC State was pummeled by Louisville. Meanwhile, Charlotte pulled off an upset on the road against Marshall for its second C-USA win in program history.Outside of those two games, nearly everything else went to script. UNC, App State, NC A&T and several other teams kept rolling with decisive wins. As for Wake Forest and Duke, both programs stayed inside the top 10 after a week off.With Week 8 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 (30)Last Week: 1Carolina made easy work of Virginia after a strange start that led to a 14-7 score at the half. The final of 35-14 continued a one-sided rivalry that has seen UNC win seven straight over Virginia. In fact, the Cavaliers have lost by double digits in six of those matchups.The Tar Heels are off this weekend before finishing out the season against Georgia Tech, Duke, Citadel and NC State. While the finale against the Wolfpack looked intriguing a week ago, their shellacking at Louisville makes it look like UNC is far and away the superior team in the state. Then again, not having to face Louisville or Clemson helps any ACC team’s record.2. Wake Forest (24)Last Week: 3During their week off, the Demon Deacons garnered more votes than the previous week and moved up one spot. That’s thanks to the aforementioned beatdown NC State was handed on Saturday. Going up against Army and UVA the next two weeks, Wake’s spot might be locked for a while.3. NC State (22)Last Week: 2We’ve already referenced the loss twice before getting to NC State, but the loss to Louisville was an alarming one for the Wolfpack. Louisville is a great team. Lamar Jackson is a ridiculous athlete. But going down 44-0 in one half to any team is unacceptable.That said, the Pack still look like the third-best team in the state heading into Week 8. Getting back to Carter-Finley Stadium against Boston College should get State back on track. But with Florida State coming to Raleigh next weekend, the grace period is extremely short for Dave Doeren’s club.4. Appalachian State (20)Last Week: 4Another week, another blowout win for the Mountaineers. So why didn’t Appalachian State make a huge jump in the power rankings? Let’s just say posting 37 points against Idaho’s defense that allows an average of 35.9 this season — 112th in the country — isn’t exactly impressive.Even still, the Mountaineers have easily dismissed their last three opponents during a four-game winning streak. If NC State continues to struggle or Wake Forest stumbles, App State is ready to make the jump with a favorable schedule moving forward.5. NC A&T (19)Last Week: 5Tarik Cohen is a man. Through seven games, the senior leads the MEAC with 1,023 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s an average of 146.1 rushing yards per game and 7.9 per carry. His 133 yards on Saturday put him over 5,000 rushing yards for his career, something only 26 players before him have ever done in FCS history.But the Aggies aren’t just the Tarik Cohen show. A&T ranks first in the MEAC in scoring offense (39.1 ppg) and scoring defense (20.7 ppg) while also leading in rushing offense (213.4 ypg) and rushing defense (66.1 ypg). These Aggies are special.6. Duke (16)Last Week: 6Duke doesn’t rise or fall in this week’s rankings after a bye week. However, the final five games present one of the toughest stretches of the season for the Blue Devils. After a hard-fought loss at Louisville, simply getting to .500 looks like a massive task for this year’s squad.7. NC Central (13)Last Week: 7The Eagles continued a six-game winning streak, but remain at No. 7 in the NC power rankings this week. Much like the Aggies, NCCU would likely need a Division I team like App State or NC State to lose games before it makes a big jump.Still, at seventh in the state, the Eagles are proving they are a force in the MEAC this season. Currently ranked second in scoring offense (28.5 ppg) and third in scoring defense (25.5 ppg), NCCU has more than rebounded from losing the first two games by a margin of 119-27.8. UNC Pembroke (8)Last Week: T9The double-digit wins just keep rolling in for UNC Pembroke, who ran away from Catawba early to claim a 41-31 win on Saturday. Patrick O’Brien passed for four touchdowns and 383 total yards — 104 of which went to B.J. Bunn, who scored one of the four TDs.If there is one issue for the Braves, it’s their defense. Pembroke allowed four touchdowns of 59 yards or more during the game. That includes a 75-yard pass touchdown and 75-yard rushing score on two separate plays. Still, the Braves are 7-1 heading into West Virginia State.9. Wingate (6)Last Week: T9Despite the one loss earlier this season against Catawba, Wingate has trucked every opponent since. That theme continued in a 29-16 win over Carson-Newman on the road, helping the Bulldogs remain inside the top 10.The current four-game winning streak should continue against North Greenville this Saturday. The Crusaders are currently 4-4 and coming off a 52-21 curb stomping against North Alabama. With just one blemish on their record, the Bulldogs look like a staple in the NC power rankings.10. ECU (4)Last Week: 8Oh, East Carolina. After a promising 2-0 start and win over NC State, the Pirates have been plundered five straight times. On Saturday, it was a previously 3-3 Cincinnati team that jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first half to pull out a 31-19 win over ECU.The Pirates still have a favorable schedule moving forward, facing UConn (3-5) and SMU (3-4) at home, but Tulsa, Navy and Temple are all tough opponents. Simply getting to 5-7 in Scottie Montgomery’s first year looks like a tall task after losing in Cincy.Also Listed: Charlotte (1), Louisburg (1)