It is a testament to just how low ACC football ranks on the national scale that the one thing it can definitively claim (so far this season) is that it is the fifth-best out of the big six BCS conferences. By sweeping two ACC-Big East matchups last week, the ACC heads into the conference season with a 3-1 edge in head-to-head games against the Big East. With Miami and North Carolina winning against Pittsburgh and Rutgers, respectively, the ACC made a small statement about their conference’s superiority. Too bad no one will pay much attention.
Now with most of the out of conference games over with, the real meat of the season begins. If this season is like the last few, the teams of the ACC will start beating each other up, until two remain standing for the conference championship game. Early on, if you are looking for the best team in the conference, surprisingly you may want to take a look at North Carolina State. The Wolfpack have started 4-0 and look to be completely healthy for the first time in a while. Russell Wilson has been great so far at quarterback, and the defense has been decent, holding down Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Wolfpack will get a test on Saturday when the preseason pick for the conference’s best team, Virginia Tech comes down to Raleigh. A win would give State more momentum, and send an early statement that they are legitimate contenders.
Another candidate for best team in the ACC is Miami. The ‘Canes were dominant last Thursday against Pittsburgh, routing the Panthers 31-3. Miami has loads of talent on both sides of the ball, and when the defense plays as well as it did against the Panthers, they will be tough to be. However, Jacory Harris tends to make poor decisions throwing the ball, particularly on the road. He had two interceptions in the first half of the game last Thursday, but was able to get away with it because Pitt had no answers on offense of their own. The next stop on the schedule is a trip to Clemson, to see if the Hurricanes can get revenge for last year’s overtime loss at home. Clemson will be well rested, and hopefully as healthy as possible after a bye week that came after a tough loss to Auburn in overtime.
Two other teams that might merit consideration are Florida State, and yes, Virginia Tech. Both are talented squads that have some bad losses on the resume. Florida State was drilled by Oklahoma, and Virginia Tech has the loss to James Madison, as well as a loss to Boise State. Yet, both could do serious damage in conference, as both are coming off shutouts of conference foes. Florida State blanked Wake Forest 31-0, while Virginia Tech held Boston College scoreless 19-0. Granted, both wins came against teams that have been struggling on offense, but good defenses will keep teams from scoring points. Florida State will travel to Charlottesville to take on Virginia, and the Hokies have the aforementioned date with the Wolfpack.
Elsewhere in conference play, Maryland takes on a Duke team coming off three straight losses, Georgia Tech heads to Winston-Salem to face the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. Rounding out the schedule are two out of conference games. The East Carolina Pirates of Conference USA take on the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill and Boston College gets a chance to add to Notre Dame’s woes with a home game against the Fighting Irish. By the end of the weekend, every team in the conference will have at least one conference game in the books. If you have any thoughts about how the conference season will go, or who its best team is, leave them in the comments.