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Making sense of the nonsense

11/10/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

There are no other BCS conferences still as wide open as the ACC. Heck, the SEC already has things all wrapped up with a pretty little bow in Alabama and Florida. Is there anyone else in the Pac-10 besides USC and Oregon State? Same can be said for the Big Ten, which this season has been the Big 1 -- Penn State. The Big East isn't convoluted, it's just not very good. You can argue the Big 12 South is just as messy, but at least in that conference it's pretty clear who the top teams are. In the ACC, that depends on what week it is. This week's round of games will either clear things up a bit or make it even muddier.

If you take a closer look, though, there is one thing we know for sure:

Three teams -- Virginia Tech, Maryland and Boston College -- control their own destiny. All three can win their respective divisions if they win all of their remaining games.

That's an interesting scenario because you can argue (and I will) that Florida State and North Carolina are the best teams in the ACC this year. Virginia Tech just found its offense last week. Boston College is still winning with its defense. And Maryland? It doesn't have the defense or the playmakers on offense to match the talent on Virginia Tech's roster, let alone Florida State's. UNC separated itself with its win over Georgia Tech and beat Miami on the road with its backup quarterback. The Tar Heels have an opportunistic defense that the offense finally seems to have caught up to.

That said ...

Wake Forest is the team with the most favorable schedule to win the Atlantic Division.

Possibly the most overlooked win of the season will be Wake's win over Virginia. The Demon Deacons got their toughest remaining opponent out of the way. Wake Forest now has to beat NC State on the road and Boston College at home. Meanwhile, the Demon Deacons need Maryland to lose another one, and the Terps have arguably the toughest schedule remaining. Maryland hosts UNC this weekend, FSU on Nov. 22, and then closes the season at Boston College.

Wake Forest has the coaching staff, talent and the defense to win its two remaining conference games, just as long as it remembers Navy when it travels to Raleigh this weekend. They've also got the tiebreaker over FSU. The Deacs have one of the best quarterbacks in the league and found a viable option to run the ball in Brandon Pendergrass.

Why aren't they the best team in the Atlantic, even though they beat Florida State? Because the Seminoles have more playmakers, mainly on offense. They just all weren't on the field on Sept. 20. And for as young as the Noles' offensive line is, it has performed better than Wake's all season, which is why FSU has been able to run the ball and Wake hasn't. Their defenses, though, are equally impressive.

A three-way tie in the Atlantic isn't too likely because Maryland would have to beat Florida State and lose another game, AND Wake Forest would have to lose in order for that to happen.

In order for Miami to win, North Carolina has to lose AND Miami has to win the rest of its games.

In order for UNC to win, Virginia Tech has to lose AND UNC has to win the rest of its games.

There are plenty of scenarios still possible, but they're situations we won't have to worry about if Virginia Tech and Maryland OR Boston College win out.

May the best team win -- or not.