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Bye Week Kickoff: State of the ACC Atlantic

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Boston College v Clemson Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

As the bye week gets underway, it’s time for yet another game of ‘glass half-full or glass half-empty.’

If your glass is half-empty after Saturday night’s soul-crusher, you might think it’s a bit presumptuous to talk about the state of the ACC Atlantic Division and where BC falls in it. After all, the Eagles’ ACC record stands at a robust 0-1.

But if your glass is half-full, it sure looks like the Atlantic Division is going to be Coastal-style chaos this year, and there’s no reason to think BC can’t or won’t at least make some noise and be part of the conversation - if they can bounce back following the bye week with a win over NC State.

Let’s take a look:

Wake Forest has streaked out to a 3-0 ACC record. Question them all you want, but their record is their record, and with Syracuse on deck this weekend, it feels pretty likely they will be 4-0. With a bye week, then Army, then Duke, I would probably put good odds on Wake being 8-0 (5-0 ACC).

But they’ve got a meat grinder to finish the season: @ UNC, NC State, @ Clemson, @ BC. If they go 2-2 during that stretch it probably opens things up quite a bit. If you believe in things like the ESPN Football Power Index, Wake is still projected to lose between 3-4 games.

NC State is who we’ll have our eyes on over the next two weeks. They also have a bye this coming weekend. They’re 1-0 in ACC play and 4-1 overall and will almost certainly be favored when they travel to BC in two weeks. That being said, their win over Louisiana Tech this past weekend was pretty narrow (34-27), and while you can’t discount the fact that they found a way to finish the job when BC didn’t, they also basically had a toss up game with Clemson, and theirs was at home.

If BC is going to be a factor in the Atlantic Division race, they absolutely have to beat NC State. But they’re certainly capable of doing so. And if they do, that opens up all sorts of chaos with BC, Clemson and NC State owning various tiebreakers against one another.

Is Clemson, at 2-1 still the favorite to win the division? On the one hand, maybe; FPI still has them favored at 37.9% odds to win the Atlantic. But they didn’t really look like a team that was going to run the table on Saturday night - the Eagles really let them off the hook. Their schedule isn’t super grueling from here on out, but they will need to be much better on offense to run the table.

Louisville feels like less of a factor now that they lost to Wake, sitting at 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the ACC. Their ACC win was over FSU, which doesn’t feel too impressive with the state of Florida State at the moment. BC will have a chance to push them further down the pecking order when they travel to Louisville on October 23.

Florida State and Syracuse feel like nonfactors in the division race.

If BC is going to climb back in to the race, they’ll obviously need to clean up a number of issues from Saturday - including hitting short- to mid-range passes, and avoiding pre-snap calamities like penalties and confusion that led to the game-sealing fumble. But if they can, the pieces are there to compete; based on early returns, the defense has improved considerably from last year, and you’d have to hope that in a slightly less frenzied environment and against a less fearsome defense than Clemson, we’d see an offense that looks more like the one we saw against Mizzou than the one we saw against Clemson.

It all starts in two weeks - BC absolutely must win at home against NC State. Not just for the divisional race, but to keep the good feelings about the season rolling.

We should learn the kickoff time for that one at some point today or tomorrow, so we’ll keep you posted - and will also keep an eye out for injury updates and news from practice as BC starts the long ramp-up to the new biggest game of the season.