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Atlantic-Coastal Comparison and the Big Finish

Brian: Jeff, back in August we gushed about how much stronger the Atlantic Division would be in football vis a vis the Coastal Division. Now that the games have been played, let's take a closer look.

It turns out that after 19 inter-division games, the Atlantic Division won 11-8 and outscored their Coastal Division opponents 447-421. But, for the second straight season, Virginia Tech will represent the Coastal in the FedEx Orange Bowl as ACC Champions. Georgia Tech and NC State were the only teams to sweep their inter-division games, and Duke was the only team to go winless against the other side. As for bowl teams (albeit given that 51.7% of teams make a bowl, this isn't the same distinction it used to be), all 6 Atlantic teams will go bowling and only 4 teams from the Coastal (sans Duke, obviously, and Virginia). So just how much stronger was the Atlantic than the Coastal this year, and what do you expect going into next season?

Jeff: The Atlantic was not much stronger than the Coastal this year based on two key stats you mentioned. First, the Atlantic only outscored the coastal by 26 points, and second, the ACC Champ is from the coastal division. Having all 6 teams from the Atlantic division heading to a bowl game says a lot but I think the Coastal is basically equally strong if you remove Duke from the equation.

Like you said we predicted the Atlantic to be much stronger than the Coastal this year and we were almost correct but the two biggest dissappointments in the ACC both came from the Atlantic side in Wake Forest and Clemson. Going into the year everyone seemingly picked one of these two teams to win the division and in the end both were a non-factor. Both even played UVA and Duke this year on the Coastal side giving them two conference victories against the conference's weakest teams but failed to win their third interdivision game. Meanwhile in out of conference play Clemson laid the big egg by not showing up against Alabama and Wake got beat by Navy on its home field. Had one or both of these teams come closer to meeting expectations, the question of which side of the conference is stronger would be a no-brainer.

Brian: Wake Forest may have been as big a disappointment as Clemson this year. If you look at the above graphic, they had perhaps the easiest schedule of Coastal opponents (Miami, Virginia and Duke), yet lost to Miami and barely escaped Duke. Throw in three losses to Atlantic division teams (BC, NC State and a Maryland shut out), scoring a mere 24 points in two wins against Florida State and (at the time, lifeless) Clemson, and a WTF loss to Navy at home, and it certainly was a disappointment for the Deacons. And now they lose their senior starting quarterback and Butkus Award winning linebacker and have to regroup for the 2009 campaign.

Also worth noting that Boston College and Virginia Tech played the top three teams as per the final standings from the other division. And Duke and Wake Forest played the bottom three teams from the other side. Wake went 2-1 while Duke went 0-3. And while there has been improvements at Duke under first year coach Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils are still a long way away from being an ACC contender.

Jeff: A long way away. A realistic goal for Duke would be 2 ACC wins next year and going 6-6 with a bowl appearance one of the next two years.

Big Finish

Brian: The Heisman Trophy will be presented tomorrow. Graham Harrell = not invited. The pirate Mike Leach = pissed. Biggest Heisman snub? Harrell in 2008, Harrel in 2007 or Ryan in 2007?

Jeff: Ryan in 2007 without question. Harrell had the opportunities to shine against Texas and Oklahoma and after both games the majority of the public would've voted Bradford and McCoy over Harrell. Harrell is great but hardly a snub considering he is only the third best QB in his division and second best player on his own team.

Jeff: As everyone continues to hurt because of the ACCCG loss to VT, some of our underclassmen, Anthony Castonzo, Thomas Claiborne, and Montel Harris, were recognized this week which should make people feel a little better about the future of BC football.

Brian: All three honors are very well deserved.

Brian: Boston College finished 9th this year in total home attendance and 52nd nationally. In the ACC, BC only beat Miami (who had one less home game), Wake Forest and Duke. Jeff, your thoughts?

Jeff: That's probably where we'll finish every year. On a percentage of occupied seats basis we would certainly be ahead UVA, maybe UNC, FSU and some others. We should be happy that BC averages 10,000 more a game than Wake Forest. HD continues to show ignorance in that article. Perhaps Miami's attendance improvement had something to do with playing FSU at home this year. Just a thought.

Jeff: The basketball team coasted to an easy win over Bryant this week where they led by more than 30 points at times and now has another sure W coming up against SC-Upstate on Sunday. When are we going to get interested in BC bball?

Brian: That starts ... now. Jeff, you are down in South Carolina. What can you tell us about SC-Upstate?

Jeff: South Carolina Upstate is the University of South Carolina's upstate satelite campus. So it's somewhere northwest of where I am sitting now.

Brian: Last one, Maryland's starting quarterback Chris Turner thinks the ACC bowl shuffle isn't fair. He should take a number, right?

Jeff: Seriously. What's his gripe anyway? Who should Maryland have been chosen over that they didn't get picked over?