- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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For anybody who still had doubts about Louisville joining the ACC, I suggest you go watch a replay of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
The Cardinals shut up every single one of their critics with a decisive 33-23 win against Florida on Wednesday night. What's more, they showed they are a program on the rise, and not a one-hit wonder that is going to go crawling back into the basement of the Big East. Or the ACC when they join in 2014.
There is no question from a football and basketball perspective, the ACC wins in this trade with Maryland. Yes, tradition takes a hit. But tradition flew out the window in college football years ago. For the ACC to be looked at in a more positive light, it needs to have more ranked teams, more signature wins, more teams taking down the SEC.
Clemson did its part this bowl season, beating No. 8 LSU.
Georgia Tech did its part this bowl season, beating preseason No. 1 USC.
And Louisville -- a member on the way in -- did its part this bowl season, beating No. 3 Florida.
The Cards are now 2-0 in in their BCS appearances, and will be the favorites to make a third next year. Maryland? 0-1 in BCS appearances, and the last one was in 2002. While the Terps' football fortunes have nosedived, Louisville's have risen with Charlie Strong in charge. The hope is that Strong will still be in charge when Louisville makes the move into the ACC in 2014. The Atlantic Division already is shaping up to be a bear with Florida State and Clemson already in command.
There are no guarantees, of course. But Louisville will be a preseason Top-10 team expected back in the BCS. Maryland? The Terps will be lucky if folks choose them to go bowling in 2013. Strong has stocked his roster full of talent from Florida, and those players showed SEC speed can be Big East speed or ACC speed if you go recruit in the right places.
Strong will keep building as long as he is in charge. The ACC will benefit. And though the Sugar Bowl win will count in the Big East record books, there is no doubt the ACC won big Wednesday, too.
5hDavid Ching and Edward Aschoff
2dESPN Stats & Information