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ACC Football: Worth Revisiting?

Almost entirely overlooked in the upheaval at the top of the latest AP poll is the gradual ascent of the ACC, which now has three teams in the top 21 (No. 17 Virginia Tech, No. 18 North Carolina and No. 21 Wake Forest) and two more receiving votes (Florida State and Georgia Tech).

That's not to say the league will be confused with the SEC any time soon, but it might time to stop trashing it entirely. The Big East has just two teams in the poll (No. 19 South Florida and No. 23 Pittsburgh) and one receiving vote (no "s" -- Cincinnati received only one vote).

The ACC appears to have a couple teams on the rise with bright coaches in North Carolina and Georgia Tech. (Maryland was on the verge of entering that category before its loss to Virginia.) And even the apparent bottom-feeders have shown signs of life (Virginia and N.C. State both have wins over East Carolina; Duke is at least somewhat better).

The league's biggest problems are: (1) the lack of a top-10 power (Clemson was supposed to play this role, but that hasn't worked out; and (2) many of its credentials are somewhat cyclical (the reason beating East Carolina is thought to be impressive is because the Pirates beat Va. Tech; Duke's resurgence is evidenced by its win over Virginia; Virginia's resurgence is evidenced by its win over Maryland.)

What do you think?

By Matthew Rennie  |  October 13, 2008; 12:28 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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I think the ACC is highly underrated (annually honestly) in football. I was looking for the conference records against other BCS competition and stumbled upon this post.

The ACC's numbers vs the other BCS schools stack up pretty favorably and I wouldn't rank the conference lower than any other conference other than the BIG12 or SEC. What I find most telling is that the ACC has a winning record against other BCS schools without boasting any top 15 teams. The conference really isn't top heavy at all which I tend to think makes all it's teams perpetually underrated. A typical weekend in SEC football is Top Ten Team A loses to unranked team B. Team A drops a spot or two and Team B (assuming they meet the requirement of being over .500) jumps into the top 25. The league is viewed as strong top to bottom. In the ACC when MD beats Clemson the result is Clemson drops like a rock and MD doesn't get into the polls. The league is viewed as weak. I would be willing to wager the only league that would beat the ACC in a ACC/Big Ten challenge type of match up is the SEC, and even that would be closer than people think it would. League like the Big East, Big Ten, and Pac 10 wouldn't stand a chance...

Posted by: Lee | October 13, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Lee, thanks for that web site. Almost too much information. I know as a UMD fan I'd like to see some of the cupcakes dropped in favor of teams from a BCS conference. I'm not sure how the ACC would match up against the Big XII.

Posted by: ewg | October 13, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I was a bit overwhelmed by all the numbers as well. The main thing I took away is that the ACC isn't nearly as bad as people like to say it is and some of these other conferences aren't nearly as good.

I wish the BCS would force the conferences to play ACC/Big Ten challenege style weekends each year. Imagine the hype that woudl create if during the first three weekends you had an ACC/SEC Challenge, a Big East/Big Ten challenge, and a Big 12/Pac Ten Challenge. Oh how sweet it would be...

Posted by: Lee | October 13, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Stats aside, unless the ACC sports a viable national contender, it will still be viewed, rightfully so, as a mediocre football conference.

How many ACC teams have significant road wins against non-conference opponents in the top 15?

However, I see the ACC on the rise in the coming years. The conference desperately needs the resurgence of both FSU and Miami.

Posted by: Charles | October 13, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

The ACC also needs address its abysmal record in major bowl games in order to remediate its perception as a "weak" conference.

Posted by: Charles | October 13, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | October 13, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Gimme a break Charles.

How many SEC teams have significant road wins against non-conference opponents in the top 15?

How many Big 12 teams have significant road wins against non-conference opponents in the top 15?

How many Pac 10 teams have significant road wins against non-conference opponents in the top 15?

Ummmm, zero, zero, and zero! Wow impressive...

The "legitimate national title contender" arguement really only carries weight for me in years in which multiple schools go undefeated. There is no way you will convince me with any objective measure that a one loss USC or one loss Penn State is more deserving this year than a one loss ACC team. The issue with the ACC is that after expansion has occured the schools at the top are different every year. This means the school that end up winning the conference started out the season unranked or in the bottom half of the polls. So the ACC is getting screwed by the preseason polls year in and year out the saem way Aubrun did a couple of years ago. I don't see why it is seen as preferable to have 2 or 3 great schools and a bunch of crap schools either. Its kind of a a what came first the chicken or the egg. I know I for one got pretty tired of watching Oklahoma get blown out in national championship games after they beat the brains in of 10 of the other 11 big twelve schools each year..

Posted by: Lee | October 14, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Georgia JUST got by Garner Webb?? 10-7 - what the ??? The ACC is Weak Weak Weak - now, get your basketball and go away.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 14, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

The ACC has 3 teams in the TOP 25 and The BIG EAST has 2 - Percentage wise, the BIG EAST is better - you see, the ACC has 12 teams and the BIG EAST 8.

Middle Tenn over Maryland
UCONN crushes Virginia
Georgia Tech just gets by Garner Webb (who's Garner Webb anyway)
Florida romps Miami
South Florida kills NC State
Alabama crushes Clemson
ECU over Virginia Tech

I could go on and on but you get the point. The ACC is a weak football conference. Hey, why don't you win a BCS game (or can't you)??? By the way, the BIG EAST has won it's last 3 BCS games.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 14, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Hey Anonymous,
This is the weakest year for the Big East in Years! Don't think a Big East team will win a BCS bowl this year! Rugters, UConn, UL or SFL...don't see any of them as strong as in past years.

Posted by: jamadeacs | October 14, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Go Tar Heels !

Posted by: Gary | October 14, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Yeah tout top 25 rankings and BCS bowls where the ACC gets the SEC every year. Good objective argument there. Smart heady stuff. Really. Good job.

Posted by: Lee | October 14, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse


It was Georgia Tech, NOT Georgia, that eked out an unimpressive win over Gardner-Webb.

Posted by: Charles | October 14, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

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