ACC Review – Week 9

Well, that certainly was a crazy, significant week of ACC football, wasn’t it? It started with that incredible last 6 minutes on Thursday night and ended with UNC knocking off Miami. Something tells me that people will long remember the weekend when the two Florida football powers were knocked off.
Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech – Earlier this year, Georgia Tech ventured up to Clemson and won a game in one of the most unimaginable ways possible, blowing an easy first down and then a bad snap on a punt. What goes around comes around.

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Big Day For ACC

When Florida State entered the ACC in 1992, they immediately became the league bully, taking the other teams’ lunch money and stuffing them in lockers. For the first four years, they didn’t lose a conference game, and very few were even close. Finally, in 1995, Virginia broke through, beating the Seminoles in a thrilling Thursday night game. That didn’t end the dominance though, as the Noles went two more seasons without losing. Six years in the ACC and only one loss (and that was by inches).
In 1998, the Seminoles finally lost again when Chris Weinke threw six interceptions against NC State. That was the first time that the Noles really showed that they were human, that they had bad games too. Unfortunately for the little eight, there wasn’t another bad game for a while. The Seminoles rolled up two more perfect seasons. Now it was two losses in nine years.
Finally, in 2001, things changed forever. Florida State not only lost to North Carolina for their third ACC loss ever, but they dropped one at home to NC State. Two losses in one year! Maryland even knocked the Noles out of first in the conference, going 7-1 (with that one loss a 52-31 tub thumping in Tallahassee).
After that season, the ACC teams had finally caught up somewhat. The Seminoles were no longer the complete force they had been and the other teams, after initially shrinking away from the sand-kicking brutes from the Sunshine State, had packed on some muscle and were fighting back. The Seminoles haven’t had a perfect conference record since.
So just as the Little Eight were learning to stand up to the big bully, an even bigger bully joined the league. If it wasn’t clear that Miami, owner of five national titles, now owned things, they made certain everyone learned when they spanked FSU in their first ACC game. Oh well. The Little Eight, or maybe Little Nine now with Virginia Tech, now had two tyrants to tame. Just when they’d learn to fight King Kong, Godzilla shows up!
If history is any indication, the nine non-Florida teams would go years without challenging for the conference title. Years without even getting a single win against Miami. Years of being kicked in the teeth and laughed at.
Or did they?
If last Saturday is any indication, they don’t.
It started with Maryland, sitting at 1-3 in the ACC, upending the unimpressive Seminoles 20-17. Maryland became the fifth different ACC team (not counting Miami) to get a Seminole scalp. The loss gave Florida State two ACC losses for just the second time.
Then came the big shocker. North Carolina, probably the most maligned team in the conference, put together their best game of the year and beat Miami 31-28 in front of a national audience. Before the win, Carolina was 2-2 in the ACC.
The meek rose up. Two schools, neither at or even near the top of the conference standings, beat a bully. There’s now a dogfight for the conference title. Miami and Florida State may still finish 1-2, but it’s not a sure thing this late into the season. Virginia, Virginia Tech and (gasp) UNC still have a shot at the automatic BCS bid.
So on one day, both Florida ACC schools lost. Both lost to teams at or below .500 in the ACC. The ACC is growing up. It may no longer get two BCS bids, costing the conference some money, but in historical context, that’s OK. The ACC is better than it was.
It was a good day for the ACC.