ACC teams off to baffling start

September, 11, 2012
9/11/12
1:00
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As we head into Week 3, Florida State is still a top 10 team -- at least on paper. The Noles are No. 2 in the country in scoring offense, rushing defense, total defense, scoring defense, and ... wait for it ... leading the nation in sacks allowed with zero.

If you ask FCS programs Murray State and Savannah State, they might tell you the Noles are the best team in the country right now.

Truth is, we don’t even know if FSU is the best team in the ACC yet.

The Noles aren’t alone, as the jury is still out for most of the teams in the league heading into Week 3:

Maryland: Eight turnovers and two wins. Huh?

Virginia: Four turnovers and 10 penalties in a win. Really.

NC State: Six sacks and 1.3 yards per carry in a win.

Wake Forest: Trailed 14-7 late in the third quarter against Liberty.

Miami: Defense allowed 537 total yards in the win against BC. What's that say about BC, which has had five turnovers in two games? I have no idea.

The best team we’ve seen so far is arguably Clemson, which earned an impressive win over Auburn, and played a mostly complete game in last weekend’s win over Ball State. The Tigers’ offense has flourished, even without suspended receiver Sammy Watkins. There have been several teams, though, facing high expectations this preseason that have yet to wow us or convince us they can live up to the hype. Some, like Florida State, simply haven’t had the chance to do that yet, while others, like NC State and Virginia Tech, have been surprisingly average at best.

This week should reveal a little bit more, as Florida State and Wake Forest play a key Atlantic Division game, and Georgia Tech will host Virginia in a critical Coastal Division game. How good, though, are the Deacs? They barely beat Liberty, only to turn around and beat a very talented North Carolina team. Maryland’s true identity remains a mystery, as it has found a way to start 2-0 with a true freshman quarterback and a total of eight turnovers in two games. And NC State has looked unimpressive in both games, despite a 10-7 win over Connecticut this past weekend.

Virginia is another baffling team that pulled off a thriller against Penn State. Had the Nittany Lions not missed four field goals (no, really), it would have been a different game. Miami is looking like the same Jekyll and Hyde team it was a year ago, raising its fans’ hopes with a league win over Boston College only to be completely outplayed on the road against Kansas State last weekend. And once again, Virginia Tech’s offense has Hokies’ fans questioning the playcalling -- a fall tradition in Blacksburg.

Overall, it’s far too early to judge the ACC or its teams individually. The conference is off to a 15-3 start against nonconference opponents with losses to Tennessee and two ranked teams, Stanford and Kansas State. The ACC hasn’t done anything yet to hurt its image, but with so many lackluster performances so far, it hasn’t done anything yet to raise its profile much, either.

There are still plenty of opportunities left -- to do both.

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