2016 North Carolina Power Rankings: Week 12

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

Bob Donnan—X02835
Nov 19

There were a lot of teams that caught an L in North Carolina on Saturday, but by far the biggest was No. 9 NC A&T falling to rival No. 20 NC Central. The Eagles were ranked behind the Aggies nearly all season, but deservedly earned their bump after sealing the MEAC title and a Celebration Bowl berth.North Carolina and Appalachian State rolled to easy wins over inferior opponents, maintaining their spots at or near the top of the rankings. But with Wake Forest falling again and NC Central routing the Aggies, Nos. 2 through 10 were all reshuffled this week.With Week 12 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 win for the Tar Heels secures the top spot in the rankings for yet another week. Beating The Citadel isn’t exactly reason for celebration, but it was a positive after losing to Duke. Now the Tar Heels face rival NC State with the Coastal Division on the line for one and bowl eligibility for the other.2. Appalachian State (27)Last Week: 3Similar to UNC, App State needed a big win after a conference loss the week prior. In the Mountaineers case, it was another Sun Belt opponent on Senior Day at Kidd Brewer Stadium — but the win was no less convincing.Marcus Cox not only eclipsed the App State rushing record, but also finished with three rushing touchdowns in the 42-17 win. Next up for App is a date at New Mexico State with bowl implications after Troy lost on Saturday.3. NC Central (23)Last Week: 5In the biggest game played at O’Kelly Riddick Stadium in NC Central history, the Eagles left no doubt who the best team in the MEAC was this season. Malcolm Bell and Dorrel McClain combined for 240 rushing yards and six total touchdowns — Bell also had 184 passing yards.Now the Eagles head to the Celebration Bowl with the SWAC champion still yet to be determined. Whether it’s Grambling State, Southern or Alcorn State, NCCU is clearly prepared for any challenge after stifling NC A&T on Saturday.4. Wake Forest (21)Last Week: 2Not that anyone expected Wake Forest to beat Clemson, but the Deacs’ performance wasn’t pretty. After going down 21-0 in the first quarter, the Tigers took their foot off the gas a bit for a 35-13 win in Winston-Salem.If there was one bright spot, it was running back Cade Carney reaching the end zone for just the second time since his return six weeks ago. With the Deacs being outscored just 14-13 over the final three quarters, Jeff Bzdelik would’ve been proud.5. UNC Pembroke (18)Last Week: T7If you haven’t been paying attention to the Braves this season, the bandwagon still has room. UNC Pembroke knocked off No. 19 Valdosta State in the first round of the Division II playoffs despite throwing five interceptions thanks to another strong performance from Rontonio Stanley.The senior compiled 130 total yards and a touchdown as the Braves jumped out to a 17-0 lead before hanging on for a 24-21 win. Quarterback Patrick O’Brien will need to clean up his act before heading to No. 3 North Alabama if there’s any chance of Pembroke advancing further.6. NC A&T (16)Last Week: 4The Aggies were on the wrong side of a rout on Saturday in the loss to NC Central, costing them a chance of making it back to the Celebration Bowl. Tarik Cohen was bottled up for 82 yards and a garbage touchdown, but he’ll get another shot in the postseason.Not all was lost for the Aggies with the aforementioned playoff bid, earning a chance for a different type of title starting against Richmond. After a 9-2 season and having Cohen in the backfield, anything is possible for this program heading into the FCS playoffs.T7. Wingate (8)Last Week: NRWingate didn’t play in the last week, but earned votes due to an 8-3 finish thanks to every other previous team around this spot crumbling. The Bulldogs dropped two of their final three games, but otherwise put together their best season since 2010 under coach Joe Reich.T7. NC State (8)Last Week: 9Dropping five of its last six games, NC State is still on the list solely based on the fact that four of its losses were by seven points or less. Miami won by 14 points, with five dropped passes in the first half and two penalties nullifying a game-tying touchdown in the fourth.The Wolfpack keeps finding new and interesting ways to lose, whether it’s by way of penalties, late turnovers or dropped interceptions. Friday will either make or break the Pack’s season with bowl eligibility on the line in Chapel Hill.9. Campbell (5)Last Week: NRCampbell may have lost its final game of the season against San Diego, but the program is heading in the right direction under head coach Mike Minter. Heading to the Big South next year, adding scholarships will be crucial for a team on the rise in Buies Creek.10. Winston-Salem State (3)Last Week: 9The Rams dropped their playoff matchup with LIU Post, but eight straight wins prior to the loss mean Winston-Salem State remains on the power rankings this week. Kerrion Moore finished the season with five games of 120-plus yards rushing, signaling a bright future for the program.Also Listed: NC Wesleyan (2), Zay Jones (1), T.J. Logan (1), Matt Dayes (1)