The newest Associated Press Top 25 Poll was released Tuesday with minimal changes. However, the presence of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is very apparent. Among the top 17 teams, the ACC has more teams than any other conference. Those teams are
13) Virginia Tech
15) Georgia Tech
17) Florida State
Among these four teams, they combined for 175 points in their first week's games, averaging over 43 points per team and allowed a combined 49 points (33 of which came against Boise State). However, these points did come against three FCS teams. Even so, having the most ranked teams among other conferences is a major statement.
The question remains: Truly, how good is the ACC compared to the other conferences? It is a general opinion that the Southeastern Conference (SEC) has the best teams overall. The next best two are the Big 12 and the Big Ten (at some time, both conferences have been in the past four championship games losing to SEC schools). This year might see a changing of the guard.
First of all, to be fair, the two ACC schools that played ranked opponents were defeated. However, these defeats were very close games (LSU beat a depleted North Carolina on a questionable no call on the goal line and Virginia Tech lost to one of the best teams in the country on a last minute drive). Compare them with the SEC, Big 12, and Big Ten.
The SEC has three teams in the top 17 (Alabama, Florida, Arkansas). All three had very simple matchups in their first week (two played very low-ranked FBS schools and one played an FCS school. Alabama and Arkansas soundly defeated their opponents (as they should) and perennial powerhouse Florida surprisingly struggled to defeat one of the worst teams in 2009, Miami (OH). In fact, at the start of the fourth quarter, Florida had close to 30 total yards of offense.
The Big 12 has three teams in the top 17 (Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska). The usual top two, Texas and Oklahoma, are facing issues with young players in important positions. In fact, defensively, Oklahoma did not find it easy to defeat Utah State. Nebraska seems to be the best of the Big 12 teams.
The Big Ten has three teams in the top 17 (Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin). They all soundly defeated their opponents (two lower-ranked FBS schools and one FCS school). Ohio State has led the Big Ten for the past several years, but many times come up short in the bowl matchups. This year the conference is up for grabs among these three very evenly matched teams.
It is very early to make projections for the rest of the 2010 season. However, after one week, it is possible to attempt a prediction concerning these conferences. Next week, though, will answer many of these questions.
From the first week matchups, the best two conferences thus far are the ACC and the Big Ten. It is very evident that the most experienced players overall can be found in the schools represented by the ACC and Big Ten (Ricki Stanzi from Iowa, Terrelle Prior from Ohio St, Christian Ponder from Florida State, Jacory Harris from Miami, Tyrod Taylor from Virginia Tech, etc.). The SEC will be down this year but not by much, putting them third behind the previous two conferences. Fourth will be the Big 12 because only one team, Nebraska, sticks out on the same par with the other conferences' schools.
In the second week of the season, the leading teams from these conferences meet. Penn St, the fourth best team in the Big Ten, travels to Alabama; Miami travels to Ohio State; Florida State travels to Oklahoma; and others such as Florida and Iowa will find difficulty in their week two home games. These games will make or break a season.
If both Miami and Florida State can pull out road victories, there will be no question that the ACC will have all four of their teams in the top 15 and possibly two in the top 10. This year can definitely be the resurgence of the ACC and, specifically, the Florida schools, Miami and Florida State.