Sitting here flipping through the channels all day on Saturday, I happened to catch a couple of ACC teams playing.
One question popped into my mind: Where's the beef? Literally and figuratively. The beef being both the representation of top teams, as well as the criticism, a.k.a. "beef," from college football fans everywhere.
Now I understand that I am a fan of the Big Ten, the annual whipping boy from the previous two years as far as weak conferences go. I am not writing this to state that the Big Ten is a superior conference.
I am simply wondering this: Why doesn't the ACC catch the flak that the Big Ten brethren do?
I will be the first to admit that the Big Ten has most definitely been in a bit of a swoon lately. Ohio State hasn't performed on the big stage the past two years, meaning the visibility of the conference's failures have been at the forefront of most news sources.
But does the ACC have any argument to deflect criticism away from their conference? Let us take a closer look.
Breaking down what we saw this weekend in reference to the ACC, we lead off with Wake Forest. Wake got off on the right foot, ripping Baylor to the tune of 41-13. That's a team the Demon Deacons should beat, and they did. Good job Wake for representing your conference.
Then Saturday came, and the ACC slowly slipped down the totem pole of conference powers. Let's start with the supposed conference power, Clemson, who many had insinuated as a sleeper pick to crash the party at the top of the BCS polls. Those aspirations were ripped apart right off the bat.
Alabama marched into the Georgia Dome and steamrolled the "best" the ACC had to offer 34-10. 'Bama held the vaunted Clemson rushing attack of James Davis and C.J. Spiller to 20 yards combined.
The Tigers defense was even worse, giving up over 400 total yards and forcing zero turnovers. This was an Alabama team that was supposed to be a year away, possibly even two, but the sleeper pick of the top 25 wasn't even a speed bump in the road for the Crimson Tide.
The struggles didn't stop there, as the 17th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies had their own brand of football work against them against East Carolina. There were quite a few people who saw this upset coming, and that to me speaks volumes about Frank Beamer and his squads.
Year in and year out, Virginia Tech is labeled a defensive juggernaut with exceptional special teams, and is always a favorite for a BCS bowl. Year in and year out, it seems they get beaten by a team that has no business doing so.
In the end, Tech saw their punt blocked late in the fourth quarter and returned for a touchdown, putting to rest any hopes of the Hokies climbing up the ranks of the national powers.
So there you have the top three teams in the ACC, with only one doing its job, one being totally embarrassed, and one getting upset by a Conference USA team (No disrespect intended).
Where is the outrage? Where is the criticism? I haven't seen much of it.
You can bet people would be making a ruckus if Wisconsin had gone down to Akron, a comparable loss to Virginia Tech to East Carolina.
The "run-of-the-mill" pack also had their struggles.
NC State was shut out by South Carolina in one of the ugliest offensive efforts of the weekend.
Virginia was crunched by USC, which is excusable, but the fashion in which they lost won't be garnering any conference strength points.
Maryland squeaked by a pesky FCS Delaware team 14-7. No offense to L.J. Burgess (a big Delaware fan on this site), but that should never happen.
Up-and-coming North Carolina, under Butch Davis, needed to come from behind to beat McNeese State, winning by eight points, 35-27.
Georgia Tech and Miami took care of business, putting up some big points against their opponents, 41-14 and 52-7 respectively. Boston College took care of Kent State with a score of 21-0. Well, hey, at least Duke won, right?
I understand that it has only been one week—opening week, no less—but the ACC's mediocrity goes back further than a mere week. How about this little tidbit about the ACC: They are 1-9 in BCS bowl games, with Florida State representing their only win and six of those appearances.
The Big Ten doesn't have a sparkling BCS record by any means, but sitting at 8-9, they have much more to hang their hats on.
The parity of the ACC has been limited, showing that the competition is watered down, and perhaps their automatic conference bid is the only reason these teams merit even being in the BCS Bowl rotation.
The ACC has never netted an at-large bid, even since the field expanded in 2006 to allow two additional teams into BCS games. The selection process may be a bit unfair for those at-large spots, but no ACC team has really ever been in the conversation for those slots.
I guess the argument against the Big Ten is that they are in higher profile games, with much more visibility, and that they have higher expectations than the ACC. Isn't that ironic?
The Big Ten is chastised because, for really only the past two seasons, the teams haven't performed on the biggest of stages.
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but why is such an overrated conference as the Big Ten landing in such important games? Is it an easier path?
I dare you to argue that the ACC has a drastic difference in quality teams. I would even argue the other way, meaning it would be easier for top teams in the ACC to get into big bowl games. That seems to be everyone's argument for why Ohio State and Illinois can get into BCS Bowls, because of easy competition—so what's the ACC's excuse?
Perhaps it's due to the fact that the ACC is viewed as a basketball conference. I'm not buying into that, as Florida State had always been in the conversation as one of the best in the nation year in and year out.
Miami has produced some of the greatest squads ever to take the field of play. Virginia and Clemson have more inclination to claim football over basketball at their schools. Virginia Tech? Much of the same.
Add to that the fact that the ACC was being hyped coming into this year, and that throws all of the "just a basketball conference" labels out the window.
Florida State has dropped off the face of the Earth, and coupled with their off- and on-the-field problems, they won't be there to carry the conference any more. Perhaps Miami can regain its national prowess and restore the conference's pecking order. Without those two teams, the ACC just can't hang.
I'm not asking that people stop bashing the Big Ten. To some extent, we deserve it, so bash away. All I am simply asking is for you all to play by the same rules.
Weak competition? The ACC has it. Poor bowl performances? The ACC has that too.
These teams have all season to fight for retribution and make me eat crow. Until then, I will point the Big Ten haters down the road to the Atlantic Coast. Once there, maybe the ACC supporters can turn them around to head inland toward Big East country.
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