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Sunday, November 29, 2009
What we learned in the ACC: Week 13

By Heather Dinich

FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher reminded us earlier this week that “ignorance is bliss.” He couldn’t have been more accurate this week in the ACC, as conference fans saw some ugly truths with three of five ranked teams falling. Here’s a look at what we learned in the final week of the regular season:

The ACC’s best isn’t good enough to beat the SEC’s average. Clemson and Georgia Tech -- the two best teams the ACC has to offer this year, both lost to 7-5 SEC teams that don’t have winning records against their conference opponents. Both fan bases scoffed at the notion their teams would look ahead to the ACC championship game because both schools take their respective rivalry games so seriously. Well, if that’s the case, then the only other explanation is simply they weren’t the better teams this past weekend. Three of the ACC’s five ranked teams lost on Saturday, and all of the losses were upsets.

Change is imminent at Florida State. After the embarrassing 37-10 loss to Florida, FSU coach Bobby Bowden said he had to do some soul searching. Although he wants to return for a final year to coach, even Bowden seemed truly defeated for the first time in his career following the loss at Florida. ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach reported that a decision on Bowden’s future could come as early as Monday or Tuesday. The only question is whether or not he's really the one to make that decision.

It can’t get any worse for Al Groh and Ralph Friedgen. Both were emotional in their postgame news conferences following their respective losses. For the Terps, it was their seventh straight loss and a school-record 10 defeats, but Friedgen said he didn’t want to quit on his players. Groh doesn’t seem to have that choice, and considering he read a poem, “The Guy in the Glass,” to the media and his players following the loss, he seems to know it. It was Virginia’s first nine-loss season since 1982.

Tom O’Brien > Butch Davis in rivalry. It doesn’t matter that UNC is going bowling and NC State is not -- not in this rivalry game, where the only thing that matters is the final score, and for the third straight year, the Wolfpack came out on top. It was only NC State’s second conference victory of the season, and it came against a nationally ranked Carolina team with a much better defense. O'Brien, though, without his offensive coordinator and good friend Dana Bible, found a way to get it done and UNC helped with its mistakes.

The ACC championship is truly anyone’s game. After the subpar performances by both Clemson and Georgia Tech on Saturday, both programs have room for improvement heading into Saturday’s title game. Clemson’s offense was stagnant against South Carolina, and Georgia Tech’s defense rolled out the red carpet for Georgia’s running game. Neither team looked as if it was the clear frontrunner for this year’s ACC title.