Now might be a good time for the ACC to cash in and leave the table.
After two incredible conference games, North Carolina-Florida State and Louisville-Clemson, and with three teams in the top 10 and six in the top 25, it might not get any better for the conference.
How can it possibly?
There’s unlikely to be two more entertaining conference games this season than UNC’s 37-35 upset of Florida State and Clemson’s 42-36 win over Louisville, let alone on the same day. Even inside the ACC, UNC-Miami (Oct. 15) or Clemson-FSU (Oct. 29) will find it tough to live up to this week’s standards.
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The best news for the ACC is after UNC’s win at FSU, the Coastal Division will get more credit, and the league’s championship game, now set for Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 3, will get more national attention.
UNC, or Miami, is poised to be much more than just “spoilers” at this point. And after the way FSU and Clemson had been running the league since 2012, even one win like UNC’s can help shift the conference’s perception.
The real wild card now is Louisville, which is also the answer to the question: “How the league can possibly top Saturday’s events?”
I advanced the theory last week that 11-1 Louisville might just crash the College Football Playoff, even without winning its own division. Under the old BCS format, Alabama played for the national title in 2011 (and won it) after finishing second in the SEC West.
There’s a different dynamic to the CFP, with a human element and what will surely be heavy politicking on behalf of any and all conference champions, but there’s nothing Louisville did in defeat on Saturday at Clemson to suggests it’s not one of the four best teams in college football.
Two ACC teams in the final four, before the SEC or Big Ten does it? That would be blaspheme from the “basketball” conference.
A lot needs to shake out between now and Dec. 3 but just in case it doesn’t, this was an unbelievable weekend for the ACC, either way.
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↑ UNC: No “Atlantic Division Participant” ribbons necessary for the Tar Heels. They did something on Saturday no other ACC team has done in five years: win at Florida State. Nick Weiler’s walk-off 54-yard field goal gave the Heels their second straight win over FSU and their second last-second ACC win in as many weeks.
↑ Tennessee: What kind of charmed life is Tennessee living? The Vols beat Georgia on a Hail Mary, just seconds after the Dawgs got a miracle pass of their own to take a late lead. Combined with last week’s 21-point comeback against Florida and their lucky bounce win over Appalachian State in the opener, it’s looking like it an orange-and-white kinda year.
Of course, the Vols will need their luck to hold up this week with a trip to No. 8 Texas A&M and the week after with No. 1 Alabama coming to Knoxville. But it is better to be lucky than good.
↑ Colorado: What year is it? Tennessee, Washington and the Buffaloes are kicking tail and taking names. The Buffs, under former Duke assistant Mike MacIntyre, completed a state of Oregon sweep with a 47-6 beatdown of Oregon State. At 4-1, MacIntyre’s fourth team has a chance not only at the program’s first winning season since 2005, but it has a leg up in the Pac-12 South division race..
↓ Michigan State: It’s not “Middle Tennessee State” bad (apologies for the reminder Sparty hoops fans) but since beating Notre Dame on Sept. 17, the Spartans have lost 30-6 to Wisconsin and 24-21 to Indiana in overtime. The Spartans had won six straight against the Hoosiers and 10 of 11 before Saturday’s loss knocked them out of the top 25 and the Big Ten East division race.