The first weekend of the 2008 college football season was pretty shaking for the Atlantic Coast Conference and already there is talk around the water cooler (and in the comment box here at the site) that this is going to be a down year for the league. Since it is Monday morning, I’m in the mood to do a little Monday morning quarterbacking myself.
Aside from Wake Forest and Duke -thats right, I said Duke – there was little to be impressed about by the league’s preformance in Week One.
Lets look at Clemson and Va. Tech, the two favorites to make the ACC Championship Game. Both were upset on Saturday and both looked pretty bad in losing their first games. If this is the best that the league has to offer then the argument that the league is down seems to have some merit.
NC State and Virginia faced tough challenges in facing USC and that other, more well known USC, and neither the Pack or Wahoos showed much if any signs of life in crushing defeats at the hands of their favored opponents.
Even some teams that were supposed to get easy wins tended to struggle. UNC and Maryland both won but just barely. Delaware and McNeese State aren’t bad teams but they shouldn’t give any BCS team that much of a struggle. Miami and Ga. Tech had big wins over vastly inferior opponents so its going to be a tough trick if the league plans to hang its hat on non-conference wins over Charleston Southern and Jacksonville State.
But, all is not lost. Wake Forest looked solid. Duke looked decent which is a big improvement over dreadful. With Duke’s offense this season, there seems to be a renewed hope around Durham that the Blue Devils can be competitive. Wake Forest could be the highest ranked league team when the rankings come out. This post expansion league is certainly different from what many thought would happen but what Grobe is putting together in Winston-Salem is masterful. If the league is down, a return trip to the Orange Bowl is not that crazy a notion for the Deacons (neither is Duke being competitive against ACC teams this season). Thats probably not great news for the folks that run the Orange Bowl.
The season is far from over. In fact, it has just begun. The ACC still has time to turn things around but Saturday was not a good omen of things to come. There are generally some upsets in league play so making hay in your non-conference schedule (against decent oppponents) is key to having the kind of season that will make an impact in the end of the season polls. As things look now, the league might not have a Top 15 team come season’s end.
I’ll conclude with an email that I received from a North Carolina transplant who now lives in the heart of Big East country in Bristol, Conn.
Good ACC Football stats on College Gameday today…haha
1. Lost 8 straight BCS Bowl Games (1-9 all-time)
2. Zero Top 5 finishers in the final poll since Florida St. in 2000
3. 9-31 in last 40 non-conference games against ranked teams
Its hard to argue with those numbers. If the ACC were a stock, it would definately be trending down. But like any stock that has good fundamentals, it is only a matter of time before things go on the upswing again. While many of the ACC’s critics may be laughing now, the league may just get the last laugh by December. There is still plenty of football left to be played.