Welcome back to the ACC Roundtable Lounge. Today's Roundtable wrap up is brought to you by the fine members of the ACC Roundtable.
This week's participant include ACC Blogger (ACC), BC Interruption (Boston College), Duke Hoop Blog (err, Duke), Tomahawk Nation (Florida State), Testudo Times (Maryland), Riddick & Reynolds (N.C. State) and From Old Virginia (uhh, Virginia).
We tried to get Gobbler Country to participate, but furrer4heisman was too busy taking his bride to Outback Steakhouse for a lovely Wednesday night dinner as he tried to make it up to her for all the time he's going to spend sitting on the couch this weekend watching college football instead of at Bed Bath & Beyond.
You know the drill. My questions, your answers. Ready? Go.
1. Most ACC programs are hitting the snooze button for the first two weeks of the season before hosting four preseason top 25 programs in week 3 -- #1 Oklahoma, #18 Ohio State, #23 Auburn and #24 West Virginia. How's week 3 in the ACC go down? Can the conference win a majority of those four high-profile games on Sept. 17?
If this question sounds repetitive, that's because, well, it is. Rewind the tape to a season ago, where between college football's weeks 2-3, the following happened in the ACC:
-- A bad Kansas program upset (15) Georgia Tech 28-25
-- Ohio State knocked off Miami 36-24
-- Oklahoma absolutely pasted Florida State 47-17
-- West Virginia beat Maryland, 31-17
-- (1) Alabama rolled up 62 on hapless Duke
-- (16) Auburn escaped with a 27-24 home victory over Clemson
-- (19) Stanford put 68 on the scoreboard vs. Wake Forest
So if our roundtable of ACC bloggers remains skeptical for the ACC's big week 3, can you blame them?
"I feel like a broken record answering a variation of this question every year, but until the ACC starts winning some of these high profile non-conference games, color me skeptical. As good as Florida State can be, I don't see them knocking off the team everyone's touting as the top team in the country. Miami over Ohio State? I don't see it...Ohio State's had more time to acclimate themselves to their NCAA woes than has Miami. I think Clemson has a shot against Auburn given they host them and took them to the wire last year on the road, but I still think Auburn wins that game.
So I see the ACC going anywhere from 2-2 to 0-4 in these games during week three, and if it's the latter, it'll be yet another black eye on the ACC's football reputation that-at this point-is justified."
The mean Roundtable responses seems to be at 2-2 on the weekend, with Duke Hoop Blog probably the most optimistic of the bunch.
"I think FSU can actually pull off the upset. Oklahoma doesn't play too well away from Norman in big games. Miami will take the loss even though they get most of their players back before the IneligiBowl. I'll go out on a limb and say Dabo gets a huge win over visiting Auburn in the battle of the tigers, and I predict Danny O'Brien can lead the Terps to the win over West Virginia in what could be possibly the ugliest uniform matchup in the history of college football."
Perhaps it's no coincidence that Duke travels to Chestnut Hill this week to face the Eagles.
When I asked this question, I was bating everyone a little but no one seemed to offer up this as a potential reason for optimism. All four of these games are ACC home games. After getting rapped on the knuckles in non-conference play against BCS AQ opponents -- most of those on the road -- the schedule breaks in the ACC's favor this season.
Gotta win these games if we have any hope of disassociating ourselves with the Big East at the bottom of the BCS conference totem poll.
2. What's the one game on the schedule that your respective fan bases have circled on this year's sched? (Conference-wide bloggers -- what are the handful of can't miss games on the regular season sched?).
Our boy Brendan over at From Old Virginia had a bit of a snarky reaction to this question:
"Spoken like a fan of a team without a set end-of-year rivalry game. (OK, that was mean.) The answer is obviously Tech and not the Atlanta version, but I also think a lot of Virginia fans - myself included - are secretly looking forward to the Duke game, on account of having lost to them entirely too much recently. Beating Duke would let us breathe a sigh of relief that the football program is at least out of the doldrums and headed for bluer skies."
Look, it's not our problem that Syracuse slunk out on their long-term contract with BC in 2011 and 2012. And yes, the Orange and Eagles are going to make it a point to play each other on the final regular season game of the year each season (well, come 2021 or Super Conferences, whichever comes first). I'd also add that after taking a shot at this week's hosts, you counter with saying that you Wahoos have the Duke game circled on your calendar?
Spoken like a fan of a pretty crappy football team. (OK, that was also mean ... and too easy).
Here's the rundown:
Boston College -- Notre Dame, and Florida State
Duke -- Stanford
Florida State -- Oklahoma, at Clemson
Maryland -- see below
N.C. State -- North Carolina (traditional), at Florida State
Virginia -- Virginia Tech, Duke
For Maryland, you pretty much need a flow diagram to follow along:
"I think it has to be the Miami game to start off the year. Edsall's first game, first conference game, first game of the season, national TV; there's so much meaning here for Maryland. Besides, the whole Monday Night Football thing is pretty cool.
If Maryland wins, then I guess you can start looking farther down the schedule at West Virginia and the game at Florida State as two of the more meaningful games of the schedule. If they lose, the game against Clemson at home will have the potential to be a real turning point of the season."
I just hope Terps fans can simultaneously keep track of each of these can't miss games and remember which color they are supposed to wear on Monday.
3. Name one ACC program that's not Florida State or Virginia Tech that has a legitimate shot at winning this year's ACC football title. Your ACC's football champion dark horse is:
Results were all over the board on this question, with teams from North Carolina to Duke, yes, Duke, named as potential ACC football champion dark horses.
BC Interruption's BCHysteria is throwing Clemson into the mix here:
"Right now my dark horse team is Clemson. They finally have a QB in Tahj Boyd, a dynamic running back in Andre Ellington and a defense that if they click could be dominant. I truly believe they could come out of nowhere and win the Atlantic and stun VT in the title game."
The only ACC program to get more than one solid vote as a dark horse was North Carolina:
"It's tough to narrow down just one out of a pretty unspectacular crew past the top two, but I'll stick with UNC, a team I projected to win 10 games before they toppled the Butch Davis regime. They still have to go to Virginia Tech on a Thursday, but like '09 when they won at Lane Stadium, the Heels take the trip to Blacksburg after the Hokies play Georgia Tech."
Tomahawk Nation adds to the UNC love, naturally noting that the Heels dodge FSU from the Atlantic.
4. It's been an offseason to forget with major NCAA infractions / investigations into the North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Miami programs. Can the conference as a whole move forward from this whole mess? How do you expect this all to shake out?
Tomahawk Nation actually sees this all as a positive:
"This will help the ACC a bit. The Media drives the perception of the top conferences, and it does so based solely on the top teams. UNC and Miami were two of the top 6 programs in the conference, and with at least one of them taking a nosedive soon, it will inflate the record of the top team or two. Thus, the perception of the ACC will increase."
Duke Hoop Blog doesn't think this will affect the conference all that much ... except for those lame-Os down Tobacco Road:
"These programs aren't the first or last to have committed infractions or get investigated. It hasn't affected the SEC or Pac-12 negatively, I don't see why it should the ACC. Georgia Tech already got its penalties. UNC and Miami will likely take a postseason ban of some length and lose some scholarships. The U has rebounded before, they should be fine after 4 or 5 years. How UNC does is still up in the air. They don't have as true of a foundation to build on."
Finally, R&R is, in a word, embarrased.
"The scandals have been embarrassing, for sure, but I'm far more concerned with the potential threat to the existence of the ACC if the SEC swells from 12 teams to 14 or even 16. If Texas A&M has, in fact, made the decision to the leave the Big 12 [ed. note -- They have ...] and the SEC agrees to extend them an invite, the resulting shakeup among the two eastern seaboard conferences could be huge, especially if the SEC starts raiding the ACCfor some of its properties.
Conference realignment, aka Conference Armageddon-if it ever goes down-will make these NCAA investigation stories look like below-the-fold news by comparison. Which leads us to..."
5. You can also add conference realignment rumors to the 2011 offseason to forget. With A&M set to divorce the Big 12 and move to the SEC, rumors swirl about a 14th program coming from the ACC. Now's the time to pledge your allegiance to John Swofford and the ACC. Or don't. Either way, tell us what you think the endgame is for the next round of conference musical chairs.
Even though he took a shot at this week's hosts, I pretty much agree with everything From Old Virginia says here, but definitely go back and read over everyone's thoughtful responses to this question. Definitely worth a read.
"I don't expect the SEC to take any ACC teams, for two reasons: I believe the rumors about there being a bloc of SEC teams voting down any expansion from their respective states, which rules out FSU, Clemson, GT, and Miami. And I don't think the remaining teams (VT mostly, but also NC State) would be willing to go. VT likes the academic association with the ACC (and so, importantly, does the Va. legislature, which kicked up the original hissy fit to get VT in the club in the first place.) NC State, I can't see them leaving their Triangle brethren behind just to fill a numbers game. So I think the SEC's 14th team will also be from outside the footprint - think Mizzou or West Virginia - and the ACC will be intact. Even if not, the ACC shouldn't have much trouble bringing Syracuse aboard if a team gets poached, and we just keep going on as before.
I don't think there's an "endgame" per se, since I don't believe in the 4x16 model of superconferences. That'd require conferences to bring on teams they don't want and wouldn't really help the per-team revenue numbers. People who say things like that also say things like Cincinnati will end up in the Big Ten and ECU in the ACC, which is basically dumb and proof positive they pulled that s*** right out of their hairy colon."
6. Last one, and recycled from last year. a) What do you expect out of your team, b) What kind of season would keep you content and happy, c) What kind of season would be a disappointment?
One last trip around the conference.
Boston College. "Chase Rettig will turn it around this season, a stellar defense, and a solid running game will lead BC to a 7-5 season. 8-4 and I will be bouncing off the walls and anything worse than last year (7-5) and I'll restart my call for Spaz's head."
Duke. "There is a bit more buffer this season so I expect Duke to get to 6 wins and go bowling for the first time since '94. If Duke doesn't add to the 3 wins from last year, I will be disappointed. I don't think I will be."
Florida State. "FSU draws UVA and Duke this year from the Coastal, and we've seen in the past that that draw really favors a team winning the division. I would be very disappointed if FSU is worse than 9-3, or if it fails to win the Division. I will be happy with the first conference championship in five years."
Maryland. "b) Eight wins and I'll take back all the "Edsall is a boring old guy" comments. Well, I won't, but I'll be happy enough."
N.C. State. "C) A 6-6 or 7-5 effort, given the weakness of the schedule, would be disappointing. There's no reason for this team to lose more than one game before it faces Florida State in week nine, and a loss to the Tar Heels this year-given all their distractions and woes-would be especially painful."
Virginia. "That big bold line between bowl eligibility and not bowl eligibility looms large, and it's the season's only goal. Six wins good, five wins bad."
ACC. "This could be a special season for the ACC. If Virginia Tech and FSU are as good as advertised, the conference could get two BCS bowl bids for the first time. What I expect and what I'd be content and happy with are the same - an improved out of conference record and a BCS bowl win. Anything less is a disappointment."
Until we meet again, good sir knights.