Let's Try This Again
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If you are a fan of the ACC, this season has been a painful wait for redemption...but the chances are now back. Everyone knows that the anchors of the ACC - Florida State and Miami - have performed lower than their standard the last several seasons. And as the two most storied programs in the conference have slipped, the league has slipped with them, and received a black-eye. Starting 2010 with a dismal out-of-conference showing following a weak 2009, this league is taking heat on a national scale. But several teams in the conference have shown signs of life, and there is nothing the ACC needs more right now than a shot at redemption.
Those shots at redemption will come in the form of rivalry games and bowl games, starting Saturday when six games go down between the ACC and out-of-conference competition:
* Georgia Tech at Georgia - The Dawgs have owned the Jackets as of late winning eight of the last nine, but are down a bit in 2010. Can GT grab a win?
* Florida at Florida State - It has been a while since a FSU win (2003) in a series the Seminoles trail in 33-19. But Doak-Campbell will be ready for their rival on Saturday.
* South Carolina at Clemson - The Tigers have won eight of the last eleven and 16 of the last 21. This year, though, USC is looking for back-to-back for the first time in ages. They have a very strong team to try for the feat.
* South Florida at Miami - The 'Canes welcome in Big East opponent South Florida. The Bulls are still relatively new to the top level of college football (started football in 1997), but are making an impact quick!
* Boston College at Syracuse - A doormat in recent seasons, Syracuse is having their best year since 2001. My guess is that BC will receive an L in the rocking Carrier Dome.
* Wake Forest at Vanderbilt - In a battle of the worst of the ACC vs the worst of the SEC, it is the Nerd Bowl! I always find these games intriguing for some reason, though they present no real gauge on conference strength.
And so now it is time to put up or shut up. All of the games above are winnable for the ACC participant. At the same time, all of the games are certainly losable. Not one game is a sure thing either way. But for the ACC to start to climb back up the mountain of respect, they will have to start winning at a rate of over .500 in these series of out-of-conference games.
Big wins are also important. Like I said, nobody cares if Wake Forest or BC wins. It is Florida State and Georgia Tech who must register the noticable wins. And this year - with South Carolina making itself known in the national picture - a win by Clemson would go a long way.
After these Saturday games, the ACC should have nine teams eligible for bowl games. That adds up to a total of 15 games between now and season's end featuring out-of-confernce play for the league. A record of 8-7 would be a decent start, but I would honestly like to see the conference check in at 10-5 if any real respectability is to happen anytime soon.
The league is primed for good things, but on the field results are the only concrete facts that matter. Until the ACC can notch a few big wins against some quality out-of-conference foes, it is going to have a hard time selling people on the fact that it is a football league and not a basketball league.
As an ACC fan myself, I'm glad the wait is over....Let's try this again!
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