Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Best-case scenarios for the ACC title game
By ESPN.com staff
The Atlantic and Coastal Divisions are still up for grabs, so much so that it’s possible we will see Wake Forest and Virginia playing in Charlotte on December 3. That’s right, you heard me: Wake Forest and Virginia. Clemson and Virginia Tech are the frontrunners right now based on their one-loss conference records, but this race could come down to the final week. Of all of the possible scenarios, though, which matchup or matchups would be the best for the ACC?
The top two scenarios, Clemson versus Virginia Tech or Clemson versus Georgia Tech, would both be rematches of regular-season games and would both be win-win situations for the health of the title game. Whether one is better than the other is merely a matter of fan bases and personal opinion, but both would draw good crowds and national interest, and all three teams could be ranked heading into that game (at least you would HOPE the two teams playing in the ACC title game are ranked). It’s like having David Wilson and Ryan Williams to choose from: You can’t go wrong with either one. Here’s a closer look at the leading candidates:
Option 1A) Clemson vs. Virginia Tech: Both fan bases would draw huge crowds, bring a great tailgating scene to Charlotte, and make the most of their time in the city. Clemson would be playing for its first ACC title since 1991, and the Hokies would be looking to redeem themselves from their 23-3 loss during the regular season. The offense under quarterback Logan Thomas has made significant strides since that game, and you can almost guarantee that Virginia Tech would find the end zone this time around and be more efficient on offense. The question is whether the injury-laden defense could make enough stops to contain the Tigers. Based on what we’ve seen to this point in the season, it’s a matchup Clemson should win.
Option 1B) Clemson vs. Georgia Tech: A repeat of the 2009 ACC championship game, one of the best matchups in the title game in recent years. Another fourth-quarter finish would be expected, and this would be one of the toughest matchups to predict. Georgia Tech continues to find a way to beat Clemson in the games with the highest stakes, and they could do it again, especially if Clemson’s defense continues to struggle against the spread option offense. How much different would this game look with Andre Ellington in the lineup? You want the truth? I have no idea who I’d pick to win this game if they were playing tomorrow. Maybe that uncertainty promises the better game. There’s no question Georgia Tech looked like the better team this past weekend, but could they do it twice in the same season? Why not? They’ve done it before.