Last week, we took a look at which quarterbacks in the ACC have seen their stock rise and fall through the first few weeks of play. Now that the September games have wrapped up, let’s take a look at the conference overall to see who’s hot and who’s not entering October:
Clemson: It’s not like the Tigers were picked to finish last in the Atlantic Division – the ACC media voted them second behind Florida State this preseason. But it’s unlikely very many outsiders predicted the Tigers would be off to a 4-0 start and have beaten two ranked opponents. They’ve got the early lead in the Atlantic Division thanks to Saturday’s 35-30 win over Florida State.
Georgia Tech: Now this team was underrated, but don’t forget it was only a few months ago that we weren’t even sure if quarterback Tevin Washington would be the starter this season. I think it’s safe to say he has it wrapped up now. The Jackets’ win over North Carolina should have convinced most ACC fans that this team is a contender this year.
Virginia Tech’s defense: The 2010 season was subpar by Virginia Tech standards. This September has been spectacular. The Hokies enter Saturday’s game against Clemson ranked No. 2 in the country in rushing defense, No. 6 in pass efficiency defense, No. 4 in total defense, and No. 6 in scoring defense. The key now is to keep it up against better competition.
ACC commissioner John Swofford: His stealth addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse was neat, tidy, and made the ACC arguably the best basketball conference in the country. It will also be a profitable move for every member of the conference, help bridge the gap with Boston College, and broaden the television and revenue markets. The expansion to 14 teams made the ACC a desirable destination for many programs still teetering on unstable ground.
National title hopes: The minute Florida State’s loss to Oklahoma was in the books, the ACC’s hopes at a national title contender for this season took a dramatic dive. The Seminoles were a top five team, putting them in position to play their way into the national title conversation, but back-to-back losses against ranked opponents have closed that door. It’s still possible for the ACC’s three undefeated teams -- Clemson, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech -- to reach the ultimate goal, but it’s much more difficult without any of them ranked among the top 10.
Bowl hopes: Sorry Septembers have made it an uphill battle for NC State, Boston College, Duke and Virginia. The Wolfpack and BC have yet to beat an FBS opponent, and Virginia’s best win came against a 1-3 Indiana team. Duke kept the ACC’s string of losses to an FCS opponent going in the season opener against Richmond.
The Atlantic Division: Memo to Wake Forest: The door is still open. Florida State, which considered by some to be a national title contender this season, has now taken the backseat to Clemson in the Atlantic Division standings. NC State has more players in the trainer’s room than it does the starting lineup, and Boston College started the season 0-3 for the first time since 1991. And the Terps? Well …
Maryland’s uniforms: The Terps were a one-hit-wonder in the month of September, their uniforms creating more buzz than anything they’ve done on the field (though what they didn’t do against Temple caused a bit of a stir). It’s been all downhill for the Terps since the Maryland Pride uniforms were revealed on Labor Day.