So, one weekend into college football season, have we learned anything? Did anything that happened in Week 1 change our minds about where the ACC is going to end up?
Well, maybe. But we need to see more evidence. We need to see if Carolina can beat Miami.
The win over South Carolina was stunning in so many ways, but the most obvious was that Mack Brown out-coached Will Muschamp, which comes as a nice surprise for UNC fans who endured the careless years of Larry Fedora and a crushing disappointment to South Carolina fans who now want Muschamp gone.
And we’re only through one weekend.
Across the ACC, we now know that Florida State is in trouble, and so is its coach. Seminoles fans don’t like losing seasons. Most FSU fans had never even seen a losing season until last year. And now at 0-1 with a numbing home loss to Boise State?
Willie Taggart would be in a lot more trouble if FSU wasn’t broke.
So, one week into the season, we know that Brown is playing with house money as long as he doesn’t lose to Appalachian State in three weeks, and Taggart is playing with a reverse mortgage on a program up for sale.
As we head into the second week, the league looks to be about what we thought: Really strong at the top (Clemson), really weak at the bottom (Georgia Tech, Louisville) and soft and fat in the middle.
This week, we get a national showdown, an interesting divisional clash and a deep-dish serving of pastry games.
Clemson’s season, and that of the ACC, is on the line Saturday when the Tigers play Texas A&M. The opener against Georgia Tech was practice. This is the first big game of the year and one that will resonate for the rest of the season, no matter which team wins.
A Clemson win here, combined with the struggles of the SEC last week, should solidify the Tigers’ playoff berth, assuming they don’t lose in Syracuse a week later. A loss to A&M could be the precursor to the end of the Clemson era and that of the ACC.
Because we now know that FSU and Miami aren’t coming through that door anytime soon.
The only other intriguing in-state game this week, aside from UNC-Miami in a Coastal Division collision, will be A&T at Duke, which is coming off a dismal 42-3 loss to Alabama. There are those among the Blue Devils’ fan base – which is where, exactly? – who believe the 0-0 first-quarter tie against the Tide was some sort of moral victory.
It wasn’t. It was just the calm before the storm.
Now the Devils have to play one of the best FCS schools in the country, a team with confidence, speed and two straight black college national titles. This is a bigger game for Duke than the fan base is comfortable with.
Elsewhere in the league, N.C. State will play Western Carolina one week after blasting East Carolina and one week before a trip to West Virginia. The Pack might yet be the surprise of the league, but we won’t know that until after the trip to Morgantown.
For now, the surprises are subtle. They are who we thought they were.
Virginia and Wake Forest.
OK, and maybe Boston College.
BC beat Virginia Tech, which now has to play Old Dominion this week in a game that few outside of the Commonwealth care about but looms as a litmus yest for the Tech program.
We’re still waiting for Virginia Tech to come back through that door. This will not be that week. This will not be that season.
This week is a litmus test for the entire league, and it basically comes down to one game. But after the first weekend, little changed in how we view the ACC, both locally and nationally.
Everything could change come Saturday afternoon.
Coldest quote of the week
“One game will not define this football team.” – FSU coach Willie Taggart.
Actually, it does. Or did.
Coolest note of the week
Kendall Hinton’s game-winning touchdown catch made him the first player in Wake Forest history to score touchdowns in five seasons.
Strangest streak broken
Carolina’s win over South Carolina was its first season-opening win over a Power Five school in 21 years (21-6 vs. Indiana in 1997).
Strangest streak continued
Clemson has now won 11 straight games by 20 or more points for the first time in school history.
Non-sequitur of the week
Florida State's loss to Boise State cost Taggart a potential million dollars in would-be bonuses ranging from a national title ($500,000) to an undefeated season ($100,000) to ACC coach of the year ($50,000).