For a conference intent on making the case that it can be a football power in 2009, the ACC made a lousy opening statement.
Clemson’s 37-14 victory over Middle Tennessee was the marquee out-of-conference win of the weekend. The ACC’s other three nonconference wins (for North Carolina, Boston College and Georgia Tech) came against teams from the Division Formerly Known as I-AA.
Those were the highlights. Here’s how ACC teams fared in the rest of the nonconference games:
- Conference favorite Virginia Tech carried the ACC banner into Atlanta for a Top 10 matchup against Alabama. The Hokies at least fared better than Clemson did in the same situation last year, but they still lost 34-24.
- N.C. State fell 7-3 at home to South Carolina in a nationally televised game that set offensive football back to the time when the Gamecocks were still part of the ACC.
- Wake Forest lost 24-21 at home to Baylor, which hadn’t won a road nonconference game against a BCS team since 1995. (Click here to see who the Bears beat in that game.
- Maryland theoretically went to Berkeley to play California, but it was kind of hard to tell by the 52-13 score.
- Duke, which was supposed to be better in Dave Cutcliffe’s second season, got beaten at home by I-AA Richmond.
- At least the Blue Devils were playing a national champion. Virginia lost to William & Mary … by 12 … at home.
John Feinstein had some of the harshest criticism for the conference Tuesday in a column for The Washington Post:
For all the preseason hype about all the returning quarterbacks and how this was going to be the year the ACC became important again — although when exactly was the ACC important nationally outside of Tallahassee? — it took exactly one week for the league to once again be exposed for what it truly is: a basketball league. Except for the fact that, outside of Chapel Hill, it hasn’t been much of a basketball league since the now infamous football expansion of 2005.
The ACC had a rough start to last season, too, but the conference’s teams collectively rebounded to produce 10 bowl bids. The quality of play from the ACC is going to have to get a lot better to in a hurry to match that haul.
Game of the Week
Miami 38, Florida State 34. The Labor Day matchup between the two rivals was the only thing that redeemed an otherwise forgettable weekend in the ACC. Don’t expect either team to be in the national title picture at the end of this season, but at least they’re entertaining to watch again.
Player of the Week
Jacory Harris, Miami. Harris was the best player on the field in the best game of the weekend. The sophomore quarterback threw for a career-high 386 yards, passed for two touchdowns, ran for another and was brilliant on the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.
Team on the Rise
Miami. It won’t take long to figure out whether the Canes are legit. Their next three games: vs. No. 15 Georgia Tech, at No. 14 Virginia Tech and vs. No. 13 Oklahoma. Add the opener against then-No. 18 Florida State, and you’ve got what’s likely the toughest opening schedule in the country.
Team on the Decline
Virginia. The hot seat Al Groh was sitting on before the season started got turned up a few degrees Saturday. Groh went 56-44 overall (34-30 ACC) in his first eight seasons at his alma mater. Given some of the talent he’s had to work with, that mediocre record has led at least one commentator to call him the worst coach in college football.
- Miami-Florida State was one game that could have gone either way, but what does it say about the balance of power in the ACC when the team picked to finish fourth in the Coastal Division wins on the road against the favorite in the Atlantic?
- Of course, the bottom two teams in the Coastal make up for that imbalance by finding themselves ranked among the worst of Division I-A.
- Florida State got down to Miami’s 4-yard line with 36 seconds left Monday night. Then the Seminoles needlessly let 13 precious seconds run off the clock before the Hurricanes called a timeout. If FSU had managed the clock a little better, maybe they could have gotten one more shot at the end zone.
- Virginia Tech is still the class of the ACC. Unfortunately, that’s not the same class as the SEC.
- Either N.C. State has a pretty good defense, or South Carolina has an uncharacteristically bad Steve Spurrier offense.
- Baylor’s last road nonconference win over a BCS team was 14-0 over N.C. State on Sept. 23, 1995.