It’s not quite 2006 all over again but three weeks into the college football season, you can already see there will be some ACC teams devalued because they’re not the name-brand teams.
When Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech struggle, the college football world holds it against the other ACC teams.
This happened to Wake Forest in 2006 when Jim Grobe won an incredible 11 games, and the school’s first ACC title in 36 years, but never reached the top 10 of the national rankings. Wake was the ACC’s best team that season. It wasn’t their fault FSU, Miami, Clemson and Virginia Tech were down.
Clemson is fine this season but those other three are back on the struggle bus. The ACC has problems but not the Deacs. They are off to a 3-0 start under Dave Clawson, after Friday’s 24-18 win over North Carolina, but received a measly 14 points in the AP poll (No. 31, if you go in order in the “others receiving votes” category).
A “Power 5” school, with this quarterback/coach combination, would at least be somewhere in the 20s. Boise State, you’ll note is No. 20, at least in part because of its Week 1 win at Florida State.
This isn’t to defend the ACC. It was a bad weekend for the powerful new “ESPN presents the ACC Network/Conference” and a reprise of the old #GoACC doldrums.
Boston College lost by 24 points (at home) to Kansas. N.C. State lost by 17 points at West Virginia. Georgia Tech lost to The Citadel by ... well, any margin will do.
It didn’t help on Saturday that when the ACC’s supposed two best teams met in primetime Clemson smashed Syracuse, 41-6. It actually would have been worse had Virginia Tech not managed to erase a 14-3 halftime deficit at home against Furman.
But the ACC is typically judged by what FSU, Virginia Tech and Miami do. (Note: That list doesn’t include Clemson because by some deranged Finebaumian logic, the Tigers are their own entity, according to the SEC fringe.)
Those are the teams with tradition and name-brand appeal and they are the ones expected to carry the ACC. When they don’t, the rest of the league suffers. It’s shame Clawson and the Deacs don’t get more credit. They deserve it.
On to the “Only* ACC Power Rankings That Matter:”
Last game: beat Syracuse, 41-6
Next game: vs. Charlotte (Saturday)
Trevor Lawrence threw four interceptions in 397 pass attempts last season. He has five interceptions in 97 pass attempts this season. Clearly (sarcasm font) that means Clemson is not going to win the national title this year.
2. Wake Forest
Last game: beat UNC, 24-18
Next game: vs. Elon (Saturday)
The “Clawson Slam?” The Deacs and their clever sixth-year coach have won their most recent game against in-state opponents UNC, N.C. State (27-23 in 2018), Duke (59-7 in 2018) and Appalachian State (20-19 in 2017).
Last game: beat Florida State, 31-24
Next game: vs. Old Dominion (Saturday)
The visit to Notre Dame in two weeks is looming as the program’s biggest game since the “Moore to Moore” glory days. Pay no attention to ODU, it has no recent history of tripping up ACC teams from the same state.
Last game: lost at Wake Forest, 24-18
Next game: vs. Appalachian State (Saturday)
It’s the Apps’ first visit to Kenan Stadium since 1940, but their new coach (Eli Drinkwitz) and defensive coordinator (Ted Roof) won there last season with N.C. State.
Last game: beat Middle Tennessee, 41-18
Next game: at Virginia Tech (Sept. 27)
If Quentin Harris’ C-USA game (237 passing yards, 107 rushing yards, four total TDs) translates to the ACC, the Blue Devils will be just fine without Daniel Jones.
Last game: beat Bethune-Cookman, 63-0
Next game: vs. Central Michigan (Saturday)
The Canes with another “get right” game and an open date before they get back into ACC play with the Hokies on Oct. 5.
7. N.C. State
Last game: lost at West Virginia, 44-27
Next game: vs. Ball State (Saturday)
Would have been a great week to catch Florida State. Alas, the Wolfpack will have to waste a bounce-back effort on Ball State and hope to have some left for the Noles in two weeks.
Last game: lost to Clemson, 41-6
Next game: vs. Western Michigan (Saturday)
Georgia State beat Tennessee. Western Michigan beat Georgia State by 47. That means the Broncos are going to ... beat the Orange. How ‘bout no?
Last game: lost at Penn State, 17-10
Next game: vs. UCF (Saturday)
Great fight from Pitt (as predicted here) at Penn State. Going to be hard for the Panthers to emotionally crank back up to handle that smoke from UCF.
Last game: beat Western Kentucky, 38-21
Next game: at Florida State (Saturday)
Juicy spot for the Cards to catch the Noles. It would help if the Cards had a healthy quarterback.
11. Boston College
Last game: lost to Kansas, 48-24
Next game: at Rutgers (Saturday)
Shame. That was Kansas’ first win over any Power 5 team on the road since 2008. Shame.
12. Virginia Tech
Last game: beat Furman, 24-17
Next game: vs. Duke (Sept. 27)
An ugly win beats a pretty loss.
13. Florida State
Last game: lost at Virginia, 31-24
Next game: vs. Louisville (Saturday)
The Noles (as predicted here) poured it out at UVa. They passed Effort 101. Now they need to go back and take Clock Management 101.
14. Georgia Tech
Last game: lost to The Citadel, 27-24 (OT)
Next game: at Temple (Sept. 28)
Geoff Collins has a long road ahead of him. Looooooooonnggggg.