2016 North Carolina Power Rankings: Week 10

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

Jeremy Brevard—X02835
Nov 5

My, how the mighty have fallen. Seven weeks ago, both ECU and NC State were in the top four along with both UNC and Wake Forest. The Tar Heels and Demon Deacons remain near the top, but the Pirates and Wolfpack are barely hanging on despite losing records.Sure, if NC State tangled with UNC Pembroke or NC Central, it would likely be a one-sided affair. But in their conference, there are no teams better Appalachian State, NC A&T and the aforementioned Braves and Eagles.With Week 10 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: 1Another week, another dominant win for the Tar Heels. UNC got off to a quick start in the first quarter against Georgia Tech behind Elijah Hood, then completely went away from him in the second quarter. Despite not having a single carry in the second, Hood rushed for a season-high 168 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries.Yes, you read that right. Hood had an average of 14 yards per carry and looked every bit the part of the Heisman darkhorse he was supposed to be this season. After battling injuries all season, Carolina having a healthy Hood has to be a terrifying sight for the rest of the Coastal division.2. Appalachian State (26)Last Week: 2All season long, Appalachian State has proved it can obliterate teams with its rushing attack. On Saturday, the Mountaineers showed off the passing game with four touchdown passes from Taylor Lamb in a 35-10 win over Texas State.Don’t worry, the running game didn’t exactly fall off for the Apps. Both Jalin Moore and Marcus Cox rushed for more than 100 yards apiece for the second straight week. With all aspects of the offense rolling and the defense allowing eight points per game during the last four wins, Saturday’s matchup with Troy looks to be one of the biggest in Sun Belt history for App State.3. Wake Forest (25)Last Week: 5Making the jump from No. 5 to No. 3 in one week? Yeah, that’s what becoming bowl eligible with another hard-fought ACC win will earn you. Wake Forest did just that with a 27-20 victory over Virginia on Saturday afternoon.The Demon Deacons are now 6-3 (3-2 ACC) and bowl eligible for the first time since 2011. John Wolford is still leading the passing attack, but it’s clear the offense still misses Kendall Hinton. But with Cade Carney healthy, the ground game can lead the way for the Deacs with likely one more winnable game on the schedule moving forward.4. NC A&T (21)Last Week: 3Saturday against South Carolina State wasn’t exactly the typical bloodbath we’re used to seeing from the Aggies, but they still moved to get their sixth straight win. Marquis Willis clinched the game late in the fourth quarter with a 29-yard pick-six for the 30-20 win.Tarik Cohen was bottled up on the ground with just 47 rushing yards, but he still finished with 95 total yards and a touchdown. With an 0-9 Delaware State team coming to town on Saturday, the Aggies should cruise before facing NC Central in the season finale.5. NC Central (15)Last Week: 4Currently sharing the lead with NC A&T for the MEAC crown, NC Central crushed Delaware State over the weekend by a final of 38-19. Similar to the Aggies, the Eagles are riding a win streak in the MEAC that has both teams squarely inside the top five of the power rankings.While the Aggies are constantly in front of NCCU in the rankings, that could all change in two weeks. The Eagles play host to the Aggies this year, so homefield advantage with a potential eight-game winning streak on ESPN3 could swing the power rankings in a huge way.6. UNC Pembroke (12)Last Week: 6With one game left before the start of the Division II playoffs, the Braves have built a resume worthy of a decent seed next week. UNC Pembroke shot up to No. 16 nationally after dismantling West Virginia State 44-14.The Braves have just one contest remaining against Concord this Saturday before postseason play begins. And with Concord sitting at just 2-7 on the year, moving to nine wins seems like a foregone conclusion.7. Winston-Salem State (9)Last Week: 10The Rams were tested against Fayetteville State over the weekend, but came away with an 8-2 record after a seventh straight victory. Winston-Salem State was led by sophomore running back Kerrion Moore, who tallied a total of 259 all-purpose yards and a receiving touchdown.The win clinched a berth to the CIAA Championship against Bowie State this Saturday in Salem, Virginia. Despite a 1-2 start to the year, the Rams are putting together yet another special season in Winston Salem.8. Duke (7)Last Week: T8Even with crushing injuries all season long, Duke continues to play tight football games. On Saturday, it was Coastal Division-leading Virginia Tech coming to town and winning by a fourth-quarter field goal.The Blue Devils have lost three straight games, but those games have been decided by an average of 5.3 points. With both Louisville and Virginia Tech included in that trio of matchups, Duke simply being in those games is a testament to David Cutcliffe’s coaching abilities.9. NC State (6)Last Week: T8What is there to say about NC State that hasn’t already been said? The Wolfpack dropped a fourth straight game on Saturday, falling to below .500 for the first time under Dave Doeren since his first season in Raleigh.Once again, the loss came down to one play with Shawn Boone dropping an interception in the end zone that would have prevented Florida State’s game-winning touchdown. The Pack has a chance to get right this Saturday against Syracuse, but the final three games all feature strong offenses for the State defense to tangle with to get to bowl eligibility.T10. Charlotte (5)Last Week: NRThe 49ers enter the poll for the first time after winning a second straight road game at Southern Miss. Led by Kalif Phillips’ 183 rushing yards, Charlotte trounced the Golden Eagles through the first three quarters before allowing 13 points in the fourth for a 38-27 final.Charlotte is now just two wins away from bowl eligibility for the first time in school history with a 1-8 Rice team this Saturday and Middle Tennessee State at home the following weekend. With a stout ground game and solid defense during Conference USA play, Saturday’s are more fun in Charlotte.T10. East Carolina (5)Last Week: 7Scottie Montgomery is 3-1 at home in his first season with East Carolina. However, he’s 0-5 on the road, with the most recent loss in Tulsa coming in blowout fashion at 45-24.During those five road games, ECU has been outscored by 91 points, or an average of 18.2 points per game. In order for the Pirates to put together a respectable season, they’ll need to rely on winning at home against SMU and Navy before yet another road test against Temple to close out the season.Also Listed: Louisburg (4), Wingate (1)