We've reached the mid-point of the college football season. Well, close enough to the mid-point. Time for another ACC blogger roundtable. This week, your hosts are the Georgia Tech boys over at From The Rumble Seat. There questions and our answers below.
1. Half the regular season is now kaput. Has your team exceeded, met, or fell short of your preseason predictions?
See that little confidence poll over on the left hand sidebar? Yeah, right over there. Boston College's latest score was a 24. It will probably be even lower after this week's voting. I believe that at some point during the preseason, the confidence poll was as high as 80.
As for whether BC has exceeded, met, or fell short of your preseason predictions, I trust that I don't have to connect the dots for you.
2. The ACC finished the first half of the season 23-14 in out of conference play. If we took out the I-AA games, that'd be a lowly 12-13 record. If we took out the non-BCS squads, that'd be a 3-10 record against BCS opponents. If we further removed the Big East, we'd have ZERO wins in out of conference play and 9 losses against the SEC, Big 10, Pac 10, and Big 12... There are nine more out of conference games for the ACC including 6 games against BCS opponents. Is there any hope for rehabilitating the ACC's tarnished image?
Wait. Why are we removing the Big East? Did someone decide they are no longer a BCS conference? If we aren't considering the Big East a BCS conference, then BC won't be able to do much to help rehabilitate the ACC's tarnished image when they face Syracuse at the end of the regular season.
In all seriousness though, if you want to know why the ACC went 0-9 against the SEC, Big 10, Pac 10 and Big 12, look no further than the schedule. Of those nine non-conference games, six were on the road, one was a neutral site game, and just two were at home. Not to mention for one of those two home games -- Alabama at Duke -- the ACC didn't have a realistic shot of winning.
The ACC was the victim of some cruel scheduling fate where seven of their nine games against "BCS-Big East" competition in the first few weeks were played away from home. Other than Kansas, those other eight opponents will likely challenge for their conference's title (or may be a borderline BCS team in the case of Notre Dame). Five of those nine losses have come against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 10 -- Ohio State, Oklahoma, Auburn, Alabama, LSU.
I'm not making excuses here. An 0-9 record is still terrible. But if you take a closer look the teams the ACC faced from the other BCS conferences, you can see how we could have gotten to where we are today.
In terms of rehabilitating the ACC's tarnished image, unfortunately the damage is done. If Florida State, Georgia Tech and Clemson all win their in-state, end-of-season rivalry games with the SEC, that might move the needle a bit. But I think the ACC will go 2-1 at best in those three games. Wins over Vanderbilt, Syracuse and USF won't do anything to change the public perception.
3. The Atlantic and Coastal divisions are knotted up at 5 wins a piece in interdivision play. Which division is better top to bottom?
In the preseason, everyone's answer was that the Coastal Division was better and it wasn't even close.
Now? I'm not so sure. Flip a coin? Florida State, N.C. State and Maryland have exceeded preseason expectations, while the top four teams in the Coastal Division -- Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, North Carolina -- have all disappointed in some way.
If Clemson gets it together, I think I've got to lean Atlantic Division at this point with Florida State, NC State, Clemson and Maryland at the top. Duke and Virginia largely cancel out with Wake Forest and (I can't believe I'm saying this) BC.
4. Who is the ACC's first half of the season offensive MVP? Defensive MVP? Any comeback player of the year nominees or predictions for ACC Rookie of the Year?
For offensive MVP, got to give the nod to the quarterback that just torched the BC defense to the tune of 328 passing yards and 3 touchdowns -- Russell Wilson.
On defense, our MVP is Luke Kuechly. The kid just finds a way to the ball. He registered 20 tackles against N.C. State this past weekend, a career high, and is averaging 14.2 tackles per game, best in the nation.
Mark Herzlich won ACC Comeback Player of the Year the moment he stepped back onto the Alumni Stadium turf after crushing cancer. As for ACC Rookie of the Year, might as well stay close to home and go with Bobby Swigert. The Eagles' true freshman WR leads the team with 232 yards and 2 touchdowns, which aren't exactly eye popping statistics through 5 games. But then, you consider who has been throwing the ball at Swigert.
5. What games are still circled on the schedule as must win games for your fan base and program?
Might as well just circle the entire month of November -- Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia and Syracuse.
The Eagles are already in a serious hole and will need to win four of their final seven games just to become bowl eligible and appear in their 12th straight bowl game. Even though Wake Forest and Duke are road games this year, both programs are worse than BC and are must-wins if the program hopes to get back to a bowl.
BC has never lost to Virginia in program history (4-0), and even if BC is bowl ineligible at that point, the seniors will be playing in their last home game and coaches may very well be playing for their job depending on how bad the rest of the season goes.
As for Syracuse, BC's former Big East foes, nothing would please the Orange more than to hand the Eagles another loss in their first meeting since we bolted for greener pastures. I'm not sure how much either program remembers how heated this rivalry was back in the Big East, but if Syracuse (6-5) and BC (5-6) each go into the season finale needing a win to become bowl eligible, watch out.
6. Let's say your university invented a device capable of transporting one individual from your program's past. And then the machine would collapse into itself due to the sheer greatness of said individual. What one player from your long and storied history would you cherry pick to instantly upgrade your team?
With due respect to #22, I'm taking the only BC player known to be able to make Lane Stadium go silent.
7. Now that you've seen ~29% of the scheduled ACC games, who will be in the 2010 ACC Championship Game?
My ACC Championship Game preseason pick of Boston College vs. Miami isn't looking so hot right now. So I'll go with a throwback to the original ACC Championship Game -- Florida State vs. Virginia Tech.
Be prepared to live in a world where the ACC Champion lost to James Madison.