season has flown by as college football maneuvers into
its final days of regulation play. Teams now begin jockeying
for (that overused passage) “bowl eligibility”.
In short, “bowl eligibility” means six victories.
For example, the Maryland Terrapins have four victories.
They need to win two of their last three (at North Carolina,
Boston College, and at N.C. State) to even garner bowl
consideration, or the same result of a season ago could
be their fate - falling one win short and sitting home
for the holidays.
This is the first year for the conference’s
new 12-team alignment, with Boston College entering
the league to complete the dozen. Two divisions –
Atlantic and Coastal – have six teams each, and
the new look has been as intriguing as it has been competitive.
One aspect is certain: the Coastal Division, with Miami
and Virginia Tech, has proven to be better, so far going
18-16 in league play compared to the Atlantic’s
18-20 aggregate tally. (Overall, the Atlantic teams
are 30-23 while the Coastal total is 31-20.) In the
Atlantic division, only FSU has a winning ACC mark (at
5-2), while four of the six Coastal division squads
are over .500 in-conference. And just imagine if last
place teams N.C. State (4-4, 2-4) and Duke (1-9, 0-7)
swapped divisions. Though the participants of two divisions
play each other, the question begs - is the Atlantic
Division (with Maryland and FSU) that bad, or is it
so competitive that those teams are just beating up
on one another with no team clearly superior?
Case in point: Florida State is already
the Atlantic division champ with two (conference) losses.
The Seminoles backed into the title by default as Boston
College lost this past weekend. The first-place FSU
also just proved their worth (or lack of) by getting
beat at home on Senior Day to struggling and last-place
N.C. State. This fulfills the consensus from August,
when many guessed that the Atlantic division winner
would wind up with two or three conference losses, precisely
what’s now happening. This scenario offers teams
like Maryland a great chance to remain in the competition.
In hindsight, a handful of plays (or referee judgments)
turned in Maryland’s favor (versus either Clemson
or Florida State) would have the Terps in a prime position
to win their division. In this case, parity may not
be such a bad thing.
Speaking of N.C. State…the heat
is on head coach Chuck Amato as he struggles to appease
the Raleigh faithful. The Wolf Pack has been to four
bowls in his five seasons, meaning his own self-created
expectations have now exceeded any reality. Still, the
last time State won an ACC title was 1979. In fact,
Duke is the only team from the entire state of North
Carolina to have won an ACC football title in the last
quarter century (in 1989 under Steve Spurrier). When
it finally comes time for Bobby Bowden to step down,
Chuck Amato is on the front of any replacement list,
something that suits half of the Tallahassee alumni
just fine. Given the right circumstances, Amato and
State could win more than just an ACC title. In Raleigh,
the Tangerine Bowl is generally the top of the proverbial
ladder. Such is the life of football on Tobacco Road.
a side note for the “hoops only” Blue Devil
bandwagon: Who is the current QB for Duke? Not sure?
Apparently winning over rides loyalty.
Division: Miami vs. Virginia Tech
The Hokies were in a prime position last week to start
their dynasty run under coach Frank Beamer and lay claim
to their second ACC title in as many seasons since joining
the league. On the biggest home (and national TV) stage
of the program’s history, Virginia Tech performed
in the slow Lane (locational pun intended). Miami stole
the thunder and quelled the crowd noise, reaffirming
their right as the top dog once again. Now, can the
Canes win out to secure such status?
The Hurricanes are only a botched snap
(on a FG attempt in the opener against Florida State)
from being right in the middle of the national championship
argument. Maybe the good ole days are returning, when
the winner of the Miami-FSU game annually went on to
the national championship. Oh, the irony in this Sunshine
State rivalry…when will one of these schools kick
a dad-gum FG through the uprights when it matters?
Good for Maryland - the Canes will visit
Byrd Stadium next year, as will the Seminoles, while
the Terrapins will not play Virginia Tech. For most
teams across the land, given the parity of the Atlantic
Division, a schedule such as this would still be challenging
enough. So what have coach Friedgen and the College
Park powers that be gone out and done? To no one’s
surprise, they have made next season’s non-conference
schedule one of the worst/weakest in Maryland’s
history. At home they will face Middle Tennessee, Florida
International and I-AA William & Mary. Actually,
parity is not always a good thing, or is it?
NationalChamps.net POST-SEASON ACC AWARDS (through
Offensive Player of The Year: Calvin Johnson –
Defensive Player of The Year: D’Qwell Jackson
Newcomer of The Year: Greg Carr – Florida State
Coach of The Year: Larry Coker – Miami