Morris: ACC teams are midyear surprise

October 13, 2013 

Ron Morris

TRACY GLANTZ — The State

NOW THAT college football has reached the halfway point of the regular season, it is time to take stock of where we are in the NCAA tournament.

The tournament began seven weeks ago with 70 teams that had even the slimmest chance of reaching the BCS Championship Game. Week by week the elimination process has trimmed the field to 18 teams in the greatest regular-season tournament in any sport.

The seventh week proved costly to five teams. They included Michigan (lost to Penn State), Oklahoma (lost to Texas), Stanford (lost to Utah), Florida (suffered a second loss, this one to LSU) and Georgia (suffered a second loss, this one to Missouri).

The SEC continues to dominate the remaining field, mostly because the tournament is double-elimination for members of that league and single-elimination for most of the rest of the field.

SEC teams still in the field include unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas A&M. Hard to believe, but the ACC is next with four remaining teams — Clemson, Florida State, Miami and one-loss Virginia Tech, which holds onto a spot because its lone loss was to open the season against Alabama.

Other remaining teams include Ohio State of the Big Ten, Baylor and Texas Tech of the Big 12, Oregon and UCLA of the Pac-12, and three non-BCS conference teams — Fresno State of the Mountain West, Louisville of the AAC and Northern Illinois of the MAC.

Streaking

South Carolina extended its streak of being ranked in The Associated Press’ Top 25 poll to 55 weeks, which is tied with Stanford for the fifth longest active stretch in the country.

Alabama has the longest streak at 89 weeks, followed by LSU at 73, Oregon at 69 and Oklahoma at 57.

More Streaking

Speaking of streaks, Ohio State owns the longest winning streak in the country at 18, and Southern Mississippi possesses the longest losing streak at 17.

Ohio State is among 14 remaining unbeaten teams, alongside Alabama, Baylor, Clemson, Florida State, Fresno State, Houston, Louisville, Miami, Missouri, Northern Illinois, Oregon, Texas Tech and UCLA.

Southern Mississippi is among eight winless teams. Others include Connecticut, Georgia State, Hawaii, Miami of Ohio, New Mexico State, Temple and Western Michigan.

Seriously?

We know college football is all about the money, but Tennessee and Virginia Tech have taken that notion to another level with the expected announcement Monday of a 2016 meeting between the two programs.

The game will be played at the 160,000-seat Bristol Motor Speedway. Other than more than $20 million expected as a payout to each program, it is difficult to fathom any other good reason for playing a college football game at such a venue.

The race track is located almost halfway between the two schools. By playing the game at this venue, college football’s attendance record of 115,109, set earlier this season at the Michigan-Notre Dame game in Ann Arbor, Mich., is certain to fall.

But who in their right mind would pay top dollar — presumably $75 and up — to watch a football game in such a massive structure, built to view massive cars not big people. Sight lines will be terrible, mostly because it is a race track, not a football stadium.

The idea is not novel, either. The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles played an NFL exhibition game at the same race track in 1961. Few thought that was a good idea, either.

Off the charts

A.J. McCarron, the Alabama quarterback who has directed the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national championships, does not get much love when it comes to Heisman Trophy talk.

Yet McCarron’s performance the past five Alabama games has been off the charts. McCarron had a rare off day in the season-opener against Virginia Tech when he completed 10 of 23 passes for 110 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Since then, McCarron has completed 101 of 138 passes (73.1 percent) for 1,297 yards (259 average) with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Of course, McCarron and top-ranked Alabama won every game.

McCann is 30-2 as a starter in his career.

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