ACC Football: Four Games That Can Put the ACC Back on the College Football Map

Drunken Sportsmen@@DrunknSportsmenContributor IIISeptember 15, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 04:  EJ Manuel #3 of the Florida State Seminoles runs away from Jack Tyler #58 of the Virginia Tech Hokies during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The ACC has a very big Saturday in front of it this weekend.  Four ACC teams host four out-of-conference ranked opponents, highlighted by fifth-ranked Florida State hosting No. 1-ranked Oklahoma. 

Other matchups include defending national champion and 21st-ranked Auburn traveling to Clemson, Big East favorite and 18th-ranked West Virginia at Maryland and 17th-ranked Ohio State heading south to take on the Miami Hurricanes.

Lately, the ACC has struggled in the national spotlight.  Since 2000, ACC teams are just 6-47 versus non-conference top-10 teams. Some wins this weekend in these matchups could turn the tide.  Without a national title since the ’99 Seminoles and a disgusting 1-6 record in its last seven BCS bowl games, the ACC needs something BIG and something NOW. 

The average loss alone in the last two BCS bowls by the ACC is 19 points, as Virginia Tech has led the league with four conference titles and BCS births in the last seven years, but just a 1-3 record in these bowls.

The addition of Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004 and BC in 2005 gave the ACC 12 teams and a conference title game.  Many thought this would put the ACC at the top of the class of the conferences with the SEC, but this was far from the case as traditional powers Miami and Florida State haven fallen from the top of college football.

The Seminoles' last BCS bowl game came in 2005, while the Canes have failed to even reach the ACC title game. After the 2003 BCS Orange Bowl between Miami and Florida State, this figured to be the preview of many upcoming ACC title tilts.  Not once in the six years of the conferences title game has this happened.

Traditional-power Clemson has made one title game, Georgia Tech two and Boston College and Wake Forest one apiece. 

In the biggest game of the year to date, the Oklahoma Sooners will visit Doak Campbell Stadium and the Florida State Seminoles. Florida State owns victories in 10 of its last 11 home games as the Sooners come in holding the top spot in the nation for a record 100th week in the school's history. 

Oklahoma put a whooping on FSU last year, 47-17, in Norman, Okla. as Landry Jones led the Sooners with 380 yards and four touchdowns. Oklahoma also owns four straight wins against Florida State.

The Seminoles will be in national championship contention with a win here.  A win would also put Florida State back on the map and give a big boost to the ACC.

Clemson will host Auburn in the battle of the Tigers. Last year's contest against the eventual national champion Auburn Tigers may have been Auburn's most tightly matched game. Clemson jumped out to a 17-0 lead but the game ended up in OT. Auburn struck first in OT with a field goal and Clemson ended the game with a missed field goal. 

The win gave Auburn 14 straight wins versus Clemson overall.  Clemson will be looking for revenge, while Auburn is coming off a strong SEC win versus Mississippi State. Although Auburn is not what it was last season, any win over a ranked team from the SEC is a very good win on your resume, especially the ACC.

In a rematch of the national championship game from a decade ago, the Ohio State Buckeyes travel down south to play Miami. This game also matches two teams currently involved in NCAA violation allegations and suspensions. 

Last season the Hurricanes jumped out to a 10-3 lead but quickly saw that turn into a 19-point deficit and a 36-24 loss. Jacoby Harris did not help the cause, as he threw four interceptions for Miami.  Harris is one of five Canes players coming off one-game suspensions. 

Miami has three players suspended for this game while Ohio State has four. The Buckeyes come in ranked No. 17 and are a threat to grab an outright or shared Big Ten title for the seventh straight year.  A Hurricane win would be a big one for the ACC over a top-tier Big Ten team.

The fourth battle will be between West Virginia and Maryland.  The Mountaineers come in as the top-ranked Big East team, a sleeper to get to the national championship game, and winners, or at least shareholders, of the Big East title in five of the last eight years. 

Maryland was one of the more hyped-up teams after the first week of the season. However, most of the hype was for its crazy uniforms rather than its hard-fought, nationally televised win over Miami. Regardless, the Terps got their first ACC win of the year and some momentum going into this game. 

The two teams have squared off five of the last seven years with West Virginia taking all five by an average of just under 14 points.  New Maryland coach Randy Edsall will try for back-to-back wins over West Viriginia as he beat the Mountaineers at the helm of UConn last year. A win for the Terps over the Mountaineers would be a great lift for them and the ACC.

Victories in all four of these matchups would put the ACC back in the college football spotlight—at least for one week.  This would give the ACC wins over the top-ranked team, last season's national champion and the two most recent dominant teams in the Big East and Big Ten. 

Florida State would be in the title hunt, Maryland would have two straight quality wins and Clemson and Miami would finally have quality out-of-conference wins.

The ACC could be back on the map after Saturday or still a backseat rider to the other power conferences in the BCS. This Saturday will give us the answer and show us what the ACC is made of.

E Platzer is a writer for and  Follow The Drunken Sportsmen on Twitter @DrunknSportsmen.