Commentary: Determining Friend and Foe Much Easier in New ACC

by - Correspondent -
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Clemson football fans, along with all ACC football fans, will have a new byproduct of excitement when it comes to watching games during the 2005 season. Picking battle lines in games that do no involve your favorite team will be much easier now that the conference has aligned with 12 teams and two divisions.

In the eight team (prior to FSU) and nine team (post FSU) ACC, determining who you pulled for in a particular game not involving your school was a tricky proposition. Of course, all Clemson fans want what is best for Clemson, but determining what was best for Clemson in a particular game could be tricky.

Take this fictitious scenario of a game several Novembers ago and let’s pretend the Tigers were sitting at 5-3 in the ACC standings. A 4th place Virginia team at 4-2 in the ACC squared off against a 2nd place Maryland team (5-1 in the ACC). Who would you pull for if you did not have money riding on the outcome?

The answer was tough. If the Tigers were sitting in 5th place in the ACC, a win by Maryland would place the Cavaliers into a tie with the Tigers for 4th.

But a win by the underdog Cavaliers in this scenario would drop Maryland down to 5-2 and if they lost the next week could drop them to 5-3 and in a tie with Clemson.

And thus, the quandary.

For the entire existence of the ACC, picking sides in non-Clemson games was either a crazy mathematical calculation based on multiple variables or simply a decision based upon who you liked less.

All that is about to quickly change as the 12 team and two division league begins play in totality starting September 3rd.

For those who had trouble picking your allies in the past, you have a clear blueprint of who to pull for in many of the ACC games now. As a member of the Atlantic Division of the ACC, Clemson fans want to see Coastal teams beat Atlantic teams in just about every conceivable situation.

As you know, the ACC will select the winner of the Atlantic Division and the winner of the Coastal Division and place them in Jacksonville for the ACC Championship game. Every conference team has Jacksonville as a goal, and Clemson is certainly no exception to that.

Getting to Jacksonville is simple. Win more games than any of the other teams in your six team division and you will go.

Clemson will have a crack at all of the teams in their Atlantic Division (Maryland, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Florida State). Winning each of those games would certainly help put Clemson in position to be the Atlantic Division winner. But the Tigers can also benefit from those teams in the Atlantic Division losing to Coastal teams throughout the year.

The Atlantic Champion (barring a tie in the record) will be the team with the best record regardless of how they fared in their own division. So Clemson could lose to Florida State and Boston College and still be the Atlantic representative in the Championship Game if FSU and BC were to lose more conference games than Clemson. How you fare against your own division, while important, is really no more important than how you fare against the other division (assuming no tie in records).

With that being said, each week you will be pulling for teams in the Atlantic Division to lose if they are playing a team in the Coastal Division. Take the September 4th N.C. State versus Virginia Tech game this coming football season. In the past you may pull for State because they were the underdog. Not anymore. A win by Tech puts a member of Clemson’s Atlantic Division at 0-1, which of course is a good thing for Clemson.

Atlantic Coastal
ClemsonGeorgia Tech
NC StateNorth Carolina
Wake ForestDuke
Boston CollegeVirginia Tech
Florida StateMiami

Miami at Florida State on September 5th might be a game you would pull for FSU because of Papa Bowden. Not anymore. A Miami win puts the Atlantic Division favorite Seminoles at 0-1 in the ACC, which of course is good for Clemson.

A quick scan of the two divisions seems to me as if the ACC was broken into two fairly evenly distributed divisions as far as football goes. Each division has a national powerhouse (FSU in Atlantic and Miami in Coastal). The bottom of the Coastal Division (Duke and North Carolina) is weak but the middle of the Atlantic is weak (N.C. State and Maryland).

I can certainly see a situation where two losses in the conference could still get you to Jacksonville in either division. And it is hard for me to envision any ACC team in either division going undefeated in conference play.

So scoreboard watching, at least for the teams that have aspirations of a winning ACC record, will certainly have added significance now that the reward is not just a bowl game but a trip to a conference championship game.

And you now no longer have to debate on which team you should pull for in an ACC conference game, betting fans aside. Down with the Atlantic and hooray for the Coastal is my new mantra.

The line between friend and foe is now as clear as an offensive lineman jumping offsides early.

So I guess the new bumper sticker can read, “I pull for two teams, Clemson and whoever is playing an Atlantic team”.

ACC Football Matchups for Next Two Years

Marylandat Clemson WakeNC State FSUat BC at Virginiaat Ga. Tech Miami
ClemsonMaryland at WakeNC State at FSUat BC Ga. TechUNC at Va. Tech
Wakeat Maryland Clemsonat NC State at FSUBC Dukeat UNC Va. Tech
NC Stateat Maryland at ClemsonWake FSUBC at VirginiaGa. Tech at UNC
FSUat Maryland ClemsonWake at NC StateBC Virginiaat Duke at Miami
BCMaryland Clemsonat Wake at NC Stateat FSU Dukeat Miami Va. Tech
VirginiaMaryland NC Stateat FSU at Ga. Techat Duke UNCMiami at Va. Tech
Ga. TechMaryland at Clemsonat NC State VirginiaDuke at UNCMiami at Va. Tech
Dukeat Wake FSUat BC Virginiaat Ga. Tech UNCMiami at Va. Tech
UNCat Clemson WakeNC State at VirginiaGa. Tech at Dukeat Miami Va. Tech
Miamiat Maryland FSUBC at Virginiaat Ga. Tech at DukeUNC Va. Tech
Va. TechClemson at Wakeat BC VirginiaGa. Tech Dukeat UNC at Miami
MarylandClemson at Wakeat NC State at FSUBC VirginiaGa. Tech at UNC
Clemsonat Maryland Wakeat NC State FSUBC at Ga. Techat Duke Va. Tech
WakeMaryland at ClemsonNC State FSUat BC at Virginiaat Duke UNC
NC StateMaryland Clemsonat Wake at FSUat BC VirginiaUNC at Miami
FSUMaryland at Clemsonat Wake NC Stateat BC DukeMiami at Va. Tech
BCat Maryland at ClemsonWake NC StateFSU at Ga. TechMiami at Va. Tech
Virginiaat Maryland Wakeat NC State Ga. TechDuke at UNCat Miami Va. Tech
Ga. Techat Maryland ClemsonBC at Virginiaat Duke UNCat Miami Va. Tech
DukeClemson Wakeat FSU at VirginiaGa. Tech at UNCat Miami Va. Tech
UNCMaryland at Wakeat NC State Virginiaat Ga. Tech DukeMiami at Va. Tech
MiamiNC State at FSUat BC VirginiaGa. Tech Dukeat UNC at Va. Tech
Va. Techat Clemson FSUBC at Virginiaat Ga. Tech at DukeUNC Miami

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