Monday, September 13, 2010
Who's up next in the ACC?
By ESPN.com staff
Clemson, it's your turn.
Or maybe NC State? How 'bout them Hoos? Heck, give the Terps a shot. They've already matched their win total from 2009!
After just two weekends of football, it's clearly anyone's game in the ACC. After an embarrassing performance in Week 2, there is nothing resembling a front-runner, and the concept of a dark horse doesn't exist. It's impossible to tell which teams -- if any -- are actually any good. The league certainly doesn't have any great teams, which means you can expect another muddled mess of a conference race.
Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech -- the two proven strengths of the ACC in recent years -- suffered the most inexplicable losses, to Kansas and James Madison, respectively. Florida State and Miami -- the two perceived "brand-name" programs of the ACC -- aren't back, they're backwards -- as in, looking like yesterday's news.
And North Carolina? It's already lost an assistant coach, not to mention its shiny academic image.
So where does the conference turn for hope?
To the conference schedule, of course, where somebody in the ACC has to come out a winner. Somebody will take a lead in the Coastal Division race this weekend when Georgia Tech and North Carolina play. And just because Florida State and Miami aren't ready for the national stage doesn't mean they're not ready for, well, Charlotte.
But maybe the ACC's best bet is in the -- gasp -- Atlantic Division, what most people (including myself) had deemed the weaker of the two divisions. Surprise, surprise, there are five teams still undefeated in that division. We'll find out what Clemson is really made of this weekend at Auburn, and Maryland has a chance at a statement win at Morgantown. NC State will have home-field advantage over Cincinnati, and Florida State was able to wallop BYU on the road last year. Boston College has a bye week to re-evaluate before hosting the 0-2 Hokies. (Wake will need some help at Stanford).
There are still plenty of chances for the conference to redeem itself -- Florida, Georgia, Auburn, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Alabama all remain on the schedule. After watching the ACC for two weeks, though, the best chances at wins appear to be against each other. After all, teams in the ACC race don't have to be great -- just good enough.