First up, the Chokies. Darlings in the Coastal Division, despite losing four wide receivers and the majority of their front seven. Virginia Tech was told, beware of East Carolina. Guess they missed that memo. The 27-22 loss was made possible by an ECU blocked kick for touchdown in the waning moments.
139 passing yards for Tech. 99 yards for the two new running backs. 369 yards for the Purple Pirates to 243 total yards for the Hokies and beaten at their own special teams game.
Hours later, a top-ten Clemson team proved they were overrated as well, getting manhandled by Alabama in the Georgia Dome. In what felt like another lopsided ACC/SEC Peach Bowl, the Tigers were downright embarrassing. Thunder (C.J. Spiller) and Lightning (James Davis) rushed eight total times for a total of 20 yards.
Alabama, praised for their defense, amassed 488 yards compared to Clemson’s 188. The Tide never turned the ball over, while the Tigers gave it away twice. CU’s defense gave up 239 on the ground as four different Bama backs bowled over them, en route to a 34-10 beat down.
As expected, the media loudmouths are out today, deservedly trashing the ACC.
I absolutely love it. Not because I lack conference pride, but because it proves the conference is wide open this year.
Miami isn’t in the national championship hunt this season. It’s all about the ACC. Compete in conference. Try to get to Tampa. Hope for a BCS game. Haul in another big time recruiting class and do it all again next year, setting the bar a little bit higher.
Besides the Canes, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech were the only other ACC team who rolled in week one. Boston College, an uninspired win over Kent State, 21-0. Maryland took down mighty Delaware, 14-7 (nice call by ESPN’s Heather Dinich picking the Terps third in conference and being this year’s ‘sleeper’.) North Carolina escaped McNeese State, 35-27.
On par with Virginia Tech and Clemson – NC State was worked, 34-0 by South Carolina and Virginia was abused to the tune of 45-7 by Southern Cal.
Let the critics blast away and let the haters hate. All that matters is knowing a young Miami team has a chance to compete, thanks to what looks like another down year for the ACC. The Canes were thought to be a year away from being an in-conference threat, but after seeing the ACC’s “best” beaten to a pulp this last weekend, how can anyone count out the Canes?
Florida is on deck and while Miami fans badly want a win in Gainesville, next Saturday is virtually a meaningless game. Some recruiting implications, sure – but all that matters is conference play when you’re not in the title hunt.
Miami gets it’s toughest conference foes at Dolphin Stadium this year. North Carolina (9/27), Florida State (10/4), Wake Forest (10/25) and Virginia Tech (11/13). ACC road trips are at Duke (10/18), Virginia (11/1), Georgia Tech (11/20) and NC State (11/29).
A lot of football is left to be played and the ACC could rebound, but this past weekend should be a shot in the arm for Miami – seeing that even their highest-ranked conference foes are mortal and that Tampa could be that much closer if the Canes play to their potential in 2008.