ACC Teams Seek to Add to Fast Starts
The ACC had a decent opening football weekend and its members look to take another big step forward this weekend.
The headliner is in Miami, as the Hurricanes attempt to upset Florida in what would be a second major feather in the conference's collective cap in the early season.
Last week, Clemson upended Georgia, 38-35, as Tajh Boyd threw for three touchdowns. The Tigers should now march through the ACC until they host Florida State on 19 October. For their part, the Seminoles ruined Pittsburgh's first game in the ACC with a resounding 41-13 victory. James Winston had a spectacular debut at quarterback for Florida State, throwing for four touchdowns. Clemson gets a breather this week, hosting South Carolina State, while the Seminoles have the weekend off.
Virginia opened their season with a 19-16 victory over BYU, and this week, they host second-ranked Oregon. The Cavaliers won last Saturday on a Kevin Parks touchdown with 2:36 left in a crazy, rain-delayed game. This time around, Virginia is given no chance to upset the Ducks, as they've been pegged as 22-point underdogs at home.
Virginia Tech was thumped by top-ranked Alabama last week but should rebound at home against Western Carolina, while North Carolina also dropped its opener and will try to even its record at home against Middle Tennessee.
Syracuse has an interesting game at Northwestern after losing its opener to Penn State at the Meadowlands. The Orange, under new coach Scott Shafer, will try to avoid an 0-2 start and avenge a tough loss to the Wildcats last year.
North Carolina State can move to 2-0 with a win over Richmond. So can Maryland, who will be favored against Old Dominion, and Duke, if they can beat Memphis on the road. Two teams that won their openers, Wake Forest and Boston College, squared off earlier tonight in Chestnut Hill, when the Golden Eagles prevailed over the punchless Demon Deacons, 24-10.
The ACC has moved to strengthen its cotingent in the wake of the four-team playoff system being implemented in 2014, when tougher schedules will, in theory, count for more in the national championship formula.
Syracuse and Pitt should ultimately make the league stronger, and next season, Louisville arrives with its program on the verge of becoming a perennial national contender. The ACC's coup de gras in this respect is expected to be its football 'affiliation' agreement with Nôtre Dame.
An upset win by Miami and a good showing by Virginia would be further signs of progress for a league that has been down for a long time.