The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday January 27th

ACC not as bad as advertised

Be it from the guy that bags your groceries your teachers your grandmother or the guys behind you in Lenoir you've probably heard it.

You know all the talk about how the ACC is bad this year as a football conference judging by how many teams have already lost games just weeks into the season.

Let me rebut this claim with a list: South Carolina ECU USC Alabama Northwestern Middle Tennessee State Florida and Connecticut ­­— the complete list of out-of-conference teams that have beaten ACC opponents.

Six of the eight were ranked either this year or last and four are ranked right now.

Eight is not even the highest number of nonconference losses among BCS conferences with the Big East registering nine and the Pac-10 totaling 10.

Admittedly the Big East and Pac-10 both have teams in the lower half of the standings that drive the tally up but that is part of the point: the ACC does not have any sure losers or for that matter sure winners.

The conference is wide open with any team having the ability to string together a few wins and make a run at a BCS bowl.

Humorously the structure of the basketball conference (top heavy with Clemson Duke and UNC) has been flipped. There is no undisputed ruling class in the ACC but rather a cluster of undistinguished but solid teams.

Clemson and Virginia Tech the preseason favorites stumbled to begin the season each losing a game to an unranked foe.

And regardless of what you think about East Carolina and its merits VT has not been impressive this season.

The Hokies have struggled to throw the ball evidenced by their one passing TD for the season and their recent desperate un-redshirting of quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

This is not the same team that dominated the ACC the last few years which spells opportunity for the rest of the league.

Coupled with the maturation of numerous bottom dwellers this is a conference full of teams that can win on any given Saturday. Even perennial ACC doormat Duke is starting to show the makings of a program gamely playing Northwestern and beating Navy.

And how about Maryland? They quelled then-No. 23 California's furious comeback to earn a win only a week after losing at Middle Tennessee State.

Miami is chock-full of young talent" but the emphasis at this point is on ""young."" If they are feeling frisky" they are quite a formidable foe for anyone but they can also lose at any time.

The Wake Forest-Florida State game today will prove which of them if either is a strong ACC contender as both have been untested so far with easy schedules.

The Demon Deacons are the only ACC team that is solidly in the Top 25 so pundits call them the favorites. But the most telling sign is that five other teams also received votes in the USA Today Top 25.

What does this mean going forward? It means that there might be a second team to win the ACC Championship Game with three conference losses (Florida St. was the first in 2005).

I predict that at least one previously unheralded team will make a prestigious if not BCS bowl a la 2001 Maryland and 2006 Wake Forest.

So buckle your seat belts. It looks like the next eleven weeks will be wild.


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