THE ACC SURE knows how to pump up its championship game.
While Florida, Alabama and Texas go into their conference title games Saturday with national championship hopes on the line, the ACC gives us two teams coming off embarrassing losses to middling squads from the SEC.
If No. 12 Georgia Tech and No. 25 Clemson are the best the ACC has to offer, the league might be worse than we thought.
The ACC has generally been regarded as one of the weaker BCS conferences, but the title of weakest usually goes to the Big East. That is not the case this season. The Big East has undefeated Cincinnati ranked No. 5. Pittsburgh was ranked in the Top 10 before losing to West Virginia on a field goal as time expired. The Bearcats and Panthers meet Saturday for the Big East championship.
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Meanwhile, the ACC is the only BCS conference without a team ranked in the Top 10. Its highest-ranked team, No. 11 Virginia Tech, is not playing for the conference championship.
The woes for the league began in Week 1. Two of its teams lost to FCS squads when William & Mary beat Virginia and Richmond beat Duke. In games against BCS conferences, the league went 0-4, including two losses to SEC teams (Virginia Tech to Alabama and N.C. State to South Carolina).
Florida State has been terrible. Miami looked as if it would emerge but ended up losing three games. Virginia Tech also has lost three. Clemson has four losses but is somehow playing for a conference title. The ACC has only seven of its 12 teams bowl-eligible, and will fail to fill all its tie-ins.
It is obvious the league has suffered as Miami and Florida State have struggled. There are not enough strong teams in this conference to warrant a title game, which has grown increasingly clear - especially as the SEC has a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup for the second year in a row.
Fans know that, too. The ACC championship game has struggled with attendance woes for the past several years.
Last year in Tampa, the game between Virginia Tech and Boston College drew 27,360 fans to Raymond James Stadium. The game is in Tampa again, and though Clemson and Georgia Tech fans generally travel well, there is not much on the line in this game except for one BCS berth. Will local fans even want to come watch this game, especially after what happened Saturday?
South Carolina and Georgia went into their in-state rivalry games with 6-5 records, and questions surrounding both coaches. They both pulled off upsets. The Gamecocks had lost three in a row going into their game against Clemson, but won 34-17. South Carolina had 223 yards rushing in the game; Clemson had 260 total yards.
Meanwhile, Georgia has had its most disappointing season under coach Mark Richt, but the Bulldogs rushed for 339 yards in their 30-24 victory against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets had 340 total yards.
Where does the league go from here?
It needs a dominant, marquee team. Perhaps its best hopes are with the Hurricanes, who will return nearly everyone in 2010 off a team that finally made national headlines again.
Parity clearly is not the answer.