A lousy first weekend for the ACC doesn't change how competitive and close the conference race is and will be in 2009.
Week: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 |
1. Virginia Tech Hokies: Yes Virginia Tech left Atlanta with a bad taste in their mouth after falling short to Alabama, but they played in a well fought, close contest against one of the best teams in the country. The loss has no bearing on conference standings and while we may have learned Saturday that the Hokies aren't quite ready for the national stage, until someone that actually plays football in the ACC unseats them, there's no reason Virginia Tech shouldn't be considered at least slight favorites in a close ACC race.
2. Miami Hurricanes: Staring down a four week gauntlet, Miami got off to the start they desperately needed Monday night in Tallahassee, defeating the Seminoles 38-34 in an instant classic. The Hurricanes now have a bye week to prepare for a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket team that ran roughshod over them last year, racking up 472 rushing yards en route to a 41-23 thrashing.
3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: You could easily make the case for Georgia Tech as number one, but unlike the Hokies and Hurricanes, the Yellow Jackets weren't tested in week one. Although Georgia Tech won easily as they should have, they looked a little sloppy in doing so, fumbling five times and losing three of those. The Yellow Jackets need to spend the next couple days working on ball protection before Clemson comes to town looking to avenge last year's close loss.
4. Florida State Seminoles: Florida State needs to regroup quickly after losing a heart-breaker Monday night to Miami and take care of Jacksonville State before heading west for what has suddenly become a huge showdown with the ninth-ranked BYU Cougars. With that said, quarterback Christian Ponder and the Seminoles better not get caught looking ahead, they can not afford a letdown.
5. Clemson Tigers: Clemson always seems to play better in years where they have lower expectations, and showed that Saturday, handling Middle Tennessee State 37-14. Thursday night the Tigers face a much taller task when they travel to Atlanta for an ACC meeting with a very dangerous Georgia Tech team. Last year the Yellow Jackets came into Death Valley and stole one from Clemson; Thursday night the Tigers will be looking for revenge.
6. North Carolina Tar Heels: North Carolina played great Saturday, then again, they were playing a clearly over-matched Citadel team. Still, the Tar Heels looked impressive in a their 40-6 win, led by running back Shaun Draugh's 118 rushing yards. However, North Carolina will get their first true test when they travel to the University of Connecticut in an ACC-Big East clash with the Huskies.
7. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Quarterback Robert Griffin's Baylor Bears are an underrated team and played well, give them their due, but an experienced Wake Forest team didn't play its best football in Saturday's 24-21 losing effort. Demon Deacon senior quarterback Riley Skinner threw an uncharacteristic three interceptions and will need to play better moving forward if Wake is serious about competing for the Atlantic crown. Wake Forest hosts another underrated team when Stanford Cardinal travels to Winston-Salem.
8. NC State Wolfpack: Everyone's "surprise team" pick for 2009 didn't look very good in their debut against South Carolina, managing a mere 133 yards of total offense in a less-than-intriguing 7-3 loss. However, its much too early to write off a talented Wolfpack club, and it should be safe to assume quarterback Russell Wilson will be better than Thursday's 74 yard pedestrian passing performance moving forward. Look for him to get back on track with some big numbers Saturday, when NC State hosts Murray State.
9. Boston College Eagles: Boston College was one of the weekend's few pleasant surprises in the ACC, completely dismantling Northeastern 54-0. Yes, Northeastern is an FCS team and a bad one at that, but after the tumultuous off-season the Eagles endured, they deserve at least some credit for doing what they were supposed to, stomping the little guy. We'll have to wait and see how Boston College fares against tougher competition before we really know just how good they are.
10. Maryland Terrapins: In 2008, Maryland seemed to be at their best against ranked teams, so far that doesn't look like the case in 2009 after the Terps were devoured in Berkeley by a far superior Golden Bears team. Traveling across the country to face a talented Cal team was a lot to ask from Maryland, so its too soon to write them off just yet, but they better take care of business against FCS division James Madison or considered the Terps season in serious trouble.
11. Duke Blue Devils: The Blue Devils had big dreams for 2009, including playing in a bowl game for the first time in 15 years. While its a little early to declare those dreams dead, Duke's bowl hopes took a major hit when they lost to Richmond, FCS national champions, but an FCS team none-the-less. Head coach David Cutcliffe doesn't believe the Blue Devils bowl hopes are over and he may be right, but Duke needs a big turnaround soon if they're going to prove the critics wrong.
12. Virginia Cavaliers: When you play in a BCS conference, losing to a middle-of-the-pack Colonial Athletic Association team is simply inexcusable. The bottom line is Virginia's Saturday loss to William & Mary was flat out embarrassing, consider Al Groh officially on the hot seat. One things for sure, it can't be much fun in Charlottesville, Virginia right now.