|Sturgis: A week one win for the ACC|
|by Mark Sturgis - Contributor - Friday, September 6, 2013 1:22 PM||
Chalk up the first week of the college football season as a win for the ACC. League schools managed to hold their own with out-of-conference competition, highlighted by Clemson’s win over Georgia and Virginia’s upset victory over BYU. Virginia Tech and North Carolina fell - as expected - to Alabama and South Carolina, and an unknown Syracuse squad went toe-to-toe with Penn State in a neutral site game.
Most importantly, league schools avoided that embarrassing loss to an FCS team, something that happened eight times this past weekend. Quite frankly, the outcomes of games were decisive minus Boston College’s battle with Villanova, and that came as no surprise. Georgia Tech hung 70 on Elon, but it seems like the Jackets spank somebody in this fashion every year. Miami, NC State and Maryland had easy home wins against Sun Belt teams, a league which pulled a few upsets last season.
An advertising company couldn’t write a check big enough to gain the exposure that both Clemson and the ACC itself received with ESPN’s GameDay on campus, plus the Tigers and Bulldogs prime time ABC slot. Florida State took advantage of Monday night’s national stage with Jameis Winston’s break out effort in an easy Seminoles win. Very few times does the actual product live up to the hype, but Winston looked at ease in taking advantage of a soft Pitt defense, but the point was made, the redshirt freshman can play and delivered on the road in his first start.
If Clemson and Florida State handle their business in games between now and October 19th, the atmosphere, drama and storylines surrounding this matchup will rival only that which is usually reserved for big SEC games, any Notre Dame game, or Ohio State-Michigan. It may not be the best thing for the ACC long-term that a mid-October battle between Florida State and Clemson is the highlight of the league schedule, but as of now, it’s the best it has to offer.
Sometimes there is victory in saying “hey, we didn’t screw that up, plus we have two really good teams.” That’s what the results from last weekend’s games spoke to me. This is the way I think the ACC has to present itself for the time being.
This week, North Carolina has to find a way to pick itself up and avoid a bad loss at home to Middle Tennessee. Old Dominion has been a fast riser in the college football world, but there should be no excuse for Maryland to lose to the Monarchs at home. Duke needs to handle their business at Memphis, and Richmond at NC State, say no more. Wake Forest travels to Boston College for a Friday night ESPN matchup and it would be kind if those two don’t deliver a snooze fest to the nation.
The ACC gets the chance to notch another victory against the SEC when Florida heads to Miami for a noon kickoff. These are the one-on-one matchups that ACC schools have to take advantage of. Florida is the higher-ranked team, but the Gators were less than impressive in their opening home win against Toledo. Miami has home field advantage, and that should mean something, even at Miami. With a Hurricanes’ win, the ACC would be 2-2 against the SEC in the first two weeks; two wins over highly ranked SEC teams no less.
Oregon travels across the country to face Virginia, and should the Cavaliers avoid an embarrassing beat down at the hands of the Ducks, then that would be the cherry on another successful weekend for the league.
At this point, simply maintain, avoid the ugly upsets, and ride the surge of momentum that a potential matchup of unbeaten teams in Death Valley on October 19th will bring. That’s the ACC’s best play.
Listen to Mark Sturgis on “Straight Up with Sturg” from 7-9 PM weekdays on WCCP 104.9 FM in Upstate SC.
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