Friday, September 18, 2009

Is the ACC back?

The answer is probably a conditional yes. While the first week of the college football season saw the ACC turn in a 6-6 record which included losses to Baylor, William & Mary and Richmond, the second week showed more promise. The league ended up 9-2 in week 2, a much better showing. Of course that included nail-biters over UConn and James Madison.

The biggest reason the ACC seems to be gaining ground might be the return of the old guard. A great game between Florida State and Miami gave fans a glimpse into what the ACC used to be. And then Miami followed that up with a stellar performance against a strong Paul Johnson coached Georgia Tech squad. SEC fans have complained for years that their conference beats up on each other eliminating a number of teams from National Championship contention. I'm not saying the ACC is in that conversation yet, but the beating up on each other has begun.

East Carolina vs. UNC

North Carolina is one of the 4 ACC teams ranked in the AP Top 25, but they still have some growing room on the offensive side of the ball, especially coming off a 12 point game against UConn. The last time these two teams met was 2003 and Carolina walked away with a 28-17 win, but that was a down year for both teams. The Tar Heels traveled to Greenville for a battle of 0-5 teams, 6 years later it is a much different story. Skip Holtz' teams always seem to play up to their competition. (see Virginia Tech and West Virginia in 2008) Carolina's defense should be too much this weekend though, Heels pull away and win 17-7.

Duke vs. Kansas

This will be the first time these two programs have met on the field and Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing might have a soft spot for the Blue Devils in his heart. Duke was the only other school to offer him a scholarship, but now he's leading the 22nd ranked Jayhawks to one of their best starts in a long while. These two teams have similar numbers through the air, but on the ground Kansas averages nearly 5 times more yards. The mock quarterback contraversy that boiled up when Thad Lewis was sat last week for redshirt freshmen Sean Renfree, has seemed to taken a backseat now that Coach Cutcliffe declared Lewis his QB. His analogy relating the situation to a baseball game where Renfree can act as a reliever made sense, and isn't something coaches often talk about, but Lewis is mature enough that this could all work out. Unfortunately though Blue Devils won't have enough in Lawrence, KS and the Jayhawks win 39-24.

Gardner Webb vs. NC State

Coming off a drubbing of Murray State, the Wolfpack may make the mistake of overlooking this tough Steve Patton coached Bulldog team. Gardner Webb is 2-0 this season, their last win coming against Western Carolina 27-20. This will be the first meeting between these two programs and Gardner Webb's second chance to take on the ACC. (the last time was a hard fought battle with Georgia Tech who had to block a last second field goal to preserve a 10-7 win) The Wolfpack scored on their first 10 possesions of the game last week and they'll need a similar performance from the offense to put this Bulldog team away. While it will be tougher than last week, NC State pulls out the win 24-10 over GWU.

Elon vs. Wake Forest

This one wins the award for shortest road trip, the Phoenix will drive down I-40 to look to go 3-0 for the fist time since 1999. These two teams have met 9 times before, but none of the players or much less the coaches were alive the last time they met in 1939. The series sits at 8-0-1, the lone tie coming in a scoreless game Oct. 1, 1927. (talk about defense!) Elon is currently ranked 11th in the FCS, but the Demon Deacons are coming off an impressive come from behind win over Stanford. If Wake Forest plays all 4 quarters the Phoenix will be in trouble. Wake wins this one 35-17.

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