Can the ACC Finally Close the Deal and Dethrone the SEC in 2013?

Bryan Manning@bdmanning4Featured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

Jameis Winston
Jameis WinstonStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Southeastern Conference is the undisputed king of college football. The SEC is home to the last seven BCS national champions.

However, could 2013 be the year the previously underwhelming ACC overtakes the mighty SEC?

If the reinvigorated Florida State Seminoles have anything to do with it, yes, it will be.

The third-ranked Seminoles host No. 7 Miami on Saturday night in front of 84,000 strong in Tallahassee. The two longtime rivals both enter the game undefeated this late in the season for the first time since 1991.

Meanwhile, the current kings of college football, the SEC, feature Georgia and Florida as its game of the week. In recent years, that would have gotten fans across the country excited. This year, not so much. The Gators and Bulldogs are both just one game above .500 as we enter Week 10 of the college football season. 

OK, so is the SEC just having a down year, or is the ACC experiencing a renaissance?

The newest BCS rankings, released earlier this week, favor the ACC over the SEC. The ACC currently has three schools among the top eight in the country. The SEC, led by No. 1 Alabama, is one of just two SEC teams in the Top 10. Surprisingly, it's the Missouri Tigers, at No. 9, as the only other school representing the mighty SEC.

As far as head-to-head meetings go, the ACC and SEC face off eight times in 2013. Four of those meetings have already occurred with each conference tallying two wins apiece. 

The aforementioned No. 1 Alabama opened their season against Virginia Tech in Atlanta. While the scoreboard showed 'Bama's dominance, it was no walk in the park for the Tide. They gained just 206 yards of total offense against the Hokies' outstanding defense. Virginia Tech is most likely the ACC's fourth-best team.

As good as the Hokies are on defense, does anyone believe they could hold the Seminoles and Jameis Winston to just 206 total yards? No, and that's why it's time for all of college football to realize the 'Noles are Pasadena bound. 

Alabama has dominated college football in recent years. They are without a doubt the nation's top team in 2013. But at times this season, the Tide have looked beatable. 

The Crimson Tide are playing their usual stingy defense. They rank No. 6 in total defense. To the surprise of many, though, 'Bama has looked sluggish on offense. With senior and three-year starter A.J. McCarron at quarterback, Alabama is just No. 50 overall in passing offense. 

A.J. McCarron
A.J. McCarronKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 'Noles currently rank No. 4 in the country in total offense. On defense, FSU is just as good, ranking eighth nationally in total defense. They are arguably the most complete team in the nation right now.

Even ESPN's College GameDay has caught ACC fever. For the third time this season, the popular pregame show takes place from an ACC stadium. Lee Corso and company will be in Tallahassee on Saturday morning.

Longtime SEC powers, Florida and LSU, have struggled in 2013. The Gators are one of the most offensively challenged teams in the country. LSU, hit with massive personnel losses to the NFL after 2012, has struggled defensively, at times, for the first time in years. 

Depth-wise, there is no doubt the SEC is still much deeper. Does anyone believe the likes of Virginia or Syracuse could beat a struggling SEC team like Arkansas or Vanderbilt?

However, we aren't talking about the bottom-feeders. 

The Oregon Ducks currently stand between Alabama and Florida State among the nation's top three teams. The Ducks look like a legitimate national-title contender. But they have for years and have been unable to close the deal.

The question at FSU has never been about the talent. The Seminoles recruit as well as anyone in the country on an annual basis. What the 'Noles lacked was a difference-maker at the quarterback position.

Enter Winston.

The sensational freshman is completing almost 70 percent of his passes for 23 touchdowns and tossed just four interceptions. 

There is still a long way to go in the 2013 season. Alabama must still survive LSU and a dangerous season-ending contest at Auburn. The 'Noles have three challenging games left: Miami, Florida and the ACC title game. 

However, college football fans should get ready for a classic battle between two of the country's premier programs. Except this time, the ending will be much different and, for at least one season, the ACC will dethrone the SEC as the king of college football. 


All stats courtesy of


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