What a difference a year makes. Remember week 1 last season? Teams in the conference as a whole went 1-4 against BCS opponents (the one win was by Miami over Florida State) and 4-2 against FCS competition (the two losses by Duke and Virginia to Richmond and William & Mary). Fast forward one year, and the ACC looks better now, though the level of competition some of the teams opened with must be discounted.
The week began with a couple laughers over FCS competition as Wake Forest and Miami beat their opposition by a combined 85 points in two easy home games on the season’s opening night. Saturday brought a dominating day, as the conference’s teams went 7-1, with the only loss coming by North Carolina in a game that they valiantly fought back in and had opportunities to win at the end, but couldn’t make a play. Once LSU had built a 30-10 lead on the Tar Heels, many people figured that the game would be a blowout. Credit goes to the Tar Heel players for battling back, even with a depleted roster with numerous players (a few of them starters) suspended. Even though they didn’t win, the Heels did their school and conference proud.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Boston College, Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Florida State, Clemson and Duke all posted double-digit victories in games they were all expected to win. Even Maryland, which suffered through a terrible season a year ago, put a win on the board in a hard-fought game against Navy’s Midshipmen in the “Crab Bowl.” The Terps were outgained, gave up over four hundred yards rushing and were almost doubled in time of possession, yet prevailed by making a goal line stop of Navy’s Ricky Dobbs on fourth down and goal with under a minute to go in the contest.
Going into the Boise State-Virginia Tech game, teams in the ACC had posted 10 wins in 11 games, a performance not to be overlooked. Sadly for the conference, the marquee game on Labor Day night did not go its way. The Broncos scored a late touchdown to beat the Hokies, 33-30. It was a back and forth game, but with the loss, Virginia Tech-and the ACC’s hopes for a contender in the national championship sweepstakes-take a hit. It was no secret that the winner of this game would stake a claim as a team with national championship dreams, and while the Hokies hopes have been dealt a severe blow, the Broncos candidacy gets a major boost.
So while the conference overall performed better than it did a year ago at the same time, the bottom line is its highest ranked team fell to defeat in its opening game. Looking ahead to week #2, two games stand out. Florida State travels to Oklahoma to take on the Sooners, and Miami heads to Columbus to take on Ohio State. Two high stakes contests that can give each team and its conference some national respect if they are able to come away with victories.