ACC Makes OOC Statement
By BJ Bennett
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SouthernPigskin.com ACC Columnist Marc Hudgens talks about the ACC's 4-0 weekend against out of conference foes.
By Marc Hudgens
SouthernPigskin.com ACC Columnist
SouthernPigskin.com ACC Columnist Marc Hudgens talks about the ACC’s 4-0 weekend against out of conference foes.
ACC goes undefeated against non-conference for second straight week
Four up and four down for ACC teams this week, as the rising (can’t believe I’m using that word) conference went 4-0 against non-conference opponents this past Saturday. Georgia Tech yawned its way past Gardner-Webb, 10-7, in Atlanta, but still won; George O’Leary’s Central Florida fell to the Canes, 20-14; Virginia won for the second straight week, this time solidly pounding former media darling East Carolina 35-20 in Scott Stadium; and this weekend’s crown jewel was North Carolina overcoming an improved Notre Dame in a slobberknocker, 29-24.
Forget the Jackets’ win over the Runnin’ Bulldogs, that was a win from the start but Tech should have scored at least 14 more points. Outside of that I’m not certain what to be more impressed with. Miami moving past two consecutive losses to the Heels and the Noles to beat a decent C-USA team? Virginia winning again? And looking VERY good doing it? Or North Carolina’s defining win over the most storied program in all of college football?http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/unc/sports/m-footbl/auto_action/2360480.jpeg
If someone held a pistol to my head and forced me to decide, I’d have to go with the Heels. Nothing against Miami or Virginia, the Canes bounced back from their funk and the Cavs have found life, but the Heels’ win over Notre Dame was massive. Coach Butch Davis’ men did not give up at all and played their hearts out in the face of not leading the entire game until the fourth quarter, when quarterback Cam Sexton rambled in from four yards to give the Heels its first lead of the game and the winning score. This Tar Heel team has character and an identity and will be very difficult to stop from here on out. I don’t care how bad the Irish were last year or how overrated they’ve been in recent years, a win over them is huge for this downtrodden conference. Had North Carolina lost this matchup it would’ve tainted the ACC a bit. And make no mistake, SEC teams would chalk it up as a big win too had they played the Domers. Don’t think for one minute that Tennessee fans wouldn’t be bragging about beating the Irish if they had the chance.
Miami still has a ways to go as they are 3-3 overall but are 0-2 in the conference. Oddly enough a win over Duke would be big for a program that’s struggling as bad as the Hurricanes. Should Miami end this season on a losing note, which it appears they just might, expect head coach Randy Shannon to get his first taste of the hot seat entering 2009. It might not be scorching hot, but it’ll be warm enough for him to know its there.
Virginia was dominant in the first half against the Pirates, as the Hoos went into the locker room at halftime with a whopping 28-6 lead. The Cavaliers let East Carolina back into the game in the second half but only to an extent, as the offense couldn’t get going either. But when the offense scored its final touchdown with just over seven minutes to go, that stuck a fork in it. Quarterback Marc Verica went 25 of 32 for 216 yards and one touchdown (and two picks) with several different receivers while Cedric Peerman ripped off 173 rushing yards and two scores. Now with its second consecutive win,it’s safe to say Virginia has found something that works.
The only conference game to be had was this past Thursday night when Wake Forest downed Clemson in a 12-7 snoozer in Winston Salem. While both defenses looked outstanding and hard-hitting, neither offense looked that great. While Wake’s offense was coined as “dominant” as it racked up huge stats, it only culminated in one touchdown and that didn’t occur until late in the fourth quarter. You can’t be considered dominant if you don’t put up the appropriate number of points, period. Demon Deacon coach Jim Grobe has a lot of work to do in the red zone department, as his offense has only scored three touchdowns in the past three games. That must change if Wake is to make it to Tampa on December 6th.
Clemson, on the other hand, who was chosen the landslide preseason ACC favorite, is now, for all intents and purposes, out of the ACC title race. At 3-3 (1-2 ACC) and sporting a poor offensive line and now a quarterback change, there’s little reason to believe Clemson will get on track. Their pathetic loss to a touchdown-less Wake Forest team proves that it doesn’t take much to beat the Tigers. Their next three games are against Georgia Tech, Boston College and Florida State—the conference’s top three defenses. Couple that with the fact both of Clemson’s conference losses were to Atlantic Division foes (which puts them behind a big eight-ball in the head-to-head) and ACC title hopes under 10-year coach Tommy Bowden are very much over. Now the team is fighting for a Champs Sports Bowl invite at best while Bowden is fighting for his job, again. Judging by results this season, it’s clear the rest of the ACC is improving while Clemson clearly is not, and it will be only a matter of time before more ACC teams bypass Clemson as long as Bowden and his complacent, mediocre coaching style are large and in charge.
At this point in the season, the ACC is 32-10 against non-conference foes and 10-7 against BCS teams. I’m lumping the win over Notre Dame in there anyway, regardless that they’re not in a BCS conference, simply because they’re Notre Dame and this win counts big-time. Next week there are no non-conference matchups for the ACC, so in that regard the conference gets a bye week. Florida State visits North Carolina State Thursday night, then on Saturday Maryland hosts Wake Forest, Clemson hosts Georgia Tech, a hot Virginia team hosts a hotter North Carolina squad, Duke hosts Miami and Boston College hosts Virginia Tech. The ACC’s pecking order will be more firmly established after this.
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