It took six weeks.
Six weeks for the ACC to implode.
Six weeks for the ACC to lose its national title contender and top Heisman hopeful.
We’re not even midway through October and the ACC found a way to fade into irrelevance again. This conference is a bigger tease than Notre Dame joining the ACC. And the ACC could use the Irish right now. You’ve heard of Clemson “pulling a Clemson?” Nope. Not this year. It’s the ACC pulling an ACC. At least last year Clemson made it to 8-0 before losing on the road to Georgia Tech. No. 3-ranked Florida State couldn’t even make it through its first road ACC game, losing 17-16 to NC State. To think Florida State could start out 6-0 would be a blatant disregard for history. Not since their national-title winning season in 1999 has FSU started out 6-0.
Shame on us for buying in, for actually thinking this year could be different.
Anyone who has followed this league in recent years should know better. Florida State hasn’t won a league title since 2005, let alone a national title. It seems as if every year the ACC has one make-or-break weekend that solidifies its role as pretender instead of contender.
This was it.
NC State, playing without three of its starting offensive linemen, beat Florida State’s heralded defensive line when it mattered most. Quarterback Mike Glennon outplayed FSU quarterback EJ Manuel in the clutch, hitting Bryan Underwood for the game winner on fourth down with 16 seconds left. NC State coach Tom O’Brien, one week after watching his team commit six turnovers and 14 penalties, outcoached Jimbo Fisher and his staff. It was a remarkable win for NC State. A thriller to watch. Monumental for the program. An instant classic.
And it couldn’t have been worse for the ACC.
Not only did the conference fall out of the national title picture and likely lose its chance at two BCS bowl teams, it also underwhelmed across the board. Boston College lost to a winless Army team. Miami was manhandled by Notre Dame. Virginia Tech’s defense traded its lunch pail for the garbage pail. And Duke looked like the best team in the Coastal Division (seriously).
With FSU’s loss, the only team left undefeated in league play in the Atlantic Division is -- wait for it -- Maryland. A team that finished 2-10 last year.
The ACC race is wide open again. And that’s the problem.