ACC Roundtable: Preseason Edition

Posted by Brandon Rink on August 29, 2011 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

The ACC roundtable is back, just in time for game week one.

Hitting the top questions facing the ACC preseason – BC Interruption is hosting the ACC Roundtable this week and will have a wrap from all the bloggers involved on Thursday/Friday. My answers…

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?

Can’t we just focus on not losing to App. State or Troy or William & Mary first? No? Ok, well, winning the majority looks less likely with Miami’s recent turn of fortune. Preseason, I projected wins for Miami, Clemson and West Virginia in those games – now, I’m leaning more to a split, but FSU could come up big and take out Oklahoma too. It’s not a question of is the ACC able to pull off the majority of those games – it’s “Will they?” And I’m going with a split.

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?).

FSU-Oklahoma – HUGE game for the conference, but every out of conference game, from Auburn to Western Carolina, is big for an ACC that just hasn’t performed OOC. An FSU win against a likely No. 1 Sooners team will do wonders for the ACC’s standing in the conference landscape, but another James Madison or Richmond will just cut it back down.

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:

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.

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?

Yes…until the next scandal. We’re all at the mercy of Yahoo! and the NCAA at this point.

Georgia Tech will be fine – they need to be more worried about finding the next Josh Nesbitt and Demaryius Thomas.

UNC has their punishment coming down midseason, and where that program goes is partly from the ruling and also if the higher-ups in Chapel Hill keep Tar Heels’ football on the frontburner. The timing of the Butch Davis firing doesn’t exactly have me optimistic for the future of North Carolina football.

Miami, oh Miami, we have a lot sorting out to do before we know what exactly happens there. Doesn’t look good though.

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.

I’m leaning towards less movement than more, and quite likely that the current ACC holds. Something has changed – it appears the conference commissioners are doing some backroom dealin’ to keep each other alive.

Texas A&M is headed to the SEC, which means somebody has to fill that 14th slot. If the SEC is staying out of current markets (i.e. SC, FL & GA), Virginia Tech makes a lot of sense, but it’s not as easy as with Texas A&M. The Hokies are happy in the ACC – they win – they dominate in football. They fit well in the conference. If the SEC does wish to pluck Virginia Tech, they’ll have to go full-court press, a far different strategy than with Texas A&M so far.

Their best bet is just moving the conference West with another Big XII team and moving the Bama schools to the SEC East.

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?

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.

Wrapping ACC expansion talk? Five games to watch

Posted by Brandon Rink on August 16, 2011 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

I don't know where FSU will be playing football for the foreseeable future, but they will be in some good games this season (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com).

Nobody’s made a move yet.

Yet, though, is the operative word. This is what I wrote early Thursday last week before everything got kicked into gear:

Call me crazy, but after what I saw last year, ESPN stepping in and holding off the PAC-12 super conference…the SEC standing pat…the Big XII becoming Texas and everybody else (the reason why Texas A&M is unhappy) – I don’t think anybody’s leaving.

In a sense, we’re right on it – nobody left…yet.

Since that post, we’ve learned of gentlemen’s agreements to keep the Clemson’s, FSU’s, Georgia Tech’s and Miami’s out of the discussion.

The SEC decided to just stay friends with Texas A&M Sunday.

Texas A&M said their president has the power to do what he wishes with potential realignment on Monday.

And said TAMU president contacted SEC Commish Mike Slive not long after Slive mentioned going to 16 teams as a possibility.

Speculation is this could all get going again as soon as within the next week plus or hold off to 2012 with TV contracts in mind (we can only hope).

Where does this leave the ACC? Who. Knows. Now, we wait.

And while we wait for the ACC’s eventual doom – or the Big East’s – or whatever conference takes the fall when the all-encompassing day of the superconference is ushered in – I’m going to talk football (novel concept, I know).

Five games I can’t wait to watch this season

5) Florida State at Florida, November 26

Why?: FSU got a little catharsis from a series that hadn’t gone its way in awhile with a 31-7 beatdown of the Gators last season. Florida is picked towards the middle of the pack by the SEC media, but what intrigues me here is the change in venues to the Swamp. The last two trips haven’t been too kind to the ‘Noles with 45-12 and 37-10 losses respectively. I’m picking FSU, but I wonder if they can win with the style points of 2010.

4) Ohio State at Miami, September 17

Why?: I don’t know what to think about this game. Ohio State will still have suspended players, and are coming off such a gauntlet as Akron and Toledo before their first road trip with a new head coach. Of course, we don’t really know what we’ll see from Miami either, but they have a bye the week before this one after the Labor Day game at Maryland. It might be ugly, but really, it’s a must-win for conference prominence in these dark, rumor-filled times of the realignment era.

3) North Carolina at NC State, November 5

Why?: Past the clear-cut divisional favorites, the Heels and Pack are the best of the rest in my projections. It’s a series that Tom O’Brien has owned – winning all four matchups with three close ones and the 41-10 blowout in Chapel Hill in 2008. New coach – new era for this series for UNC? Who knows, but it should go down to the wire.

2) Florida State at Clemson, September 24

Why?: If the ‘Noles are going to be opposed in the Atlantic, this is a must-win – not only for Clemson, but also for rest of the division. Look up and down that FSU schedule – there aren’t many pitfalls for them in conference. The Seminoles haven’t won in Death Valley since 2001 – seems crazy but it’s true. Both will be coming off big out-of-conference games with the next in our countdown for the ‘Noles and Auburn coming to the school with a lake. Clemson getting Andre Ellington going will be key to pulling off an upset here.

1) Oklahoma at Florida State, September 17

Why?: I’ll be at the aforementioned Clemson-Auburn game at noon that day, which will be a good one, but this primetime game is the marquee matchup of the OOC season. With only Tulsa and a bye in their path to Tallahassee, Oklahoma will come in ranked No. 1 overall against another top-5 school in FSU. The Sooners manhandled the ‘Noles last season in Norman, winning 47-17. But Oklahoma’s last two trips to Sunshine State haven’t been kind – losing twice in Miami, 21-20 to the Hurricanes – and 24-14 to the Gators in the BCS National Championship Game in 2009. This is a bellwether game for FSU’s season – are the ‘Noles on track for a trip to the biggest bowl game of all? Winning here will boost the ‘Noles hype (and BCS rating) through the roof going into their ACC opener at Clemson the next week.

Thoughts on the expansion fiasco? Any games to add to the list?

2011 ACC Football Burning Questions: Expansion again, Multiple BCS bids and top 25 teams

Posted by Brandon Rink on August 11, 2011 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

Will Dabo's Tigers fit into the SEC's plans? (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

This is a big season for the ACC.

I know it. You know it. John Swofford knows it.

Here’s the questions facing the conference going into camp…

1) Will this 12-team version of the ACC last much longer?

You’ve seen the rumors. Texas A&M to the S-E-C, which begs the question – if the Southeastern Conference adds them, who’s coming with them?

FSU? Clemson? Virginia Tech? Georgia Tech? Miami? Or possibly even, a team not from the ACC?

It’s hilarious (and understandable) when these rumors surface, every ACC team’s fanbase involved starts to make their case for their SEC-worthiness over the rest.

Call me crazy, but after what I saw last year, ESPN stepping in and holding off the PAC-12 super conference…the SEC standing pat…the Big XII becoming Texas and everybody else (the reason why Texas A&M is unhappy) – I don’t think anybody’s leaving.

Gobbler Country hinted to why the Hokies might stay here, and I think the story is similar at a couple more schools in question.

But we’re dealing with a lot of hypotheticals here.

Just how aggressive is SEC intending on being? If they’re going 14-teams, do they even look the ACC’s way? Maybe grab OU with A&M to sack the Big XII.

Obviously, if it’s 16 – the ACC has to factor in there somewhere.

But make no mistake – the more expansion spins out of control – the worse it gets for the conference.

I don’t think the ACC will just be able to pluck their favorite Big East teams and move on if the SEC takes 2-4 teams for 16.

And you have Maryland, Boston College, Virginia and Georgia Tech that might be appetizing for the Big Ten in their efforts to match the SEC.

AND, apparently, the Big East could raid a few teams from the Big XII.

You seeing the picture here? No great plans for the ACC to be proactive in this mess.

Not. Good. At. All.

Basically, the ACC either needs to be proactive, or do a heck of sell job to keep all 12 in line – like they did last year.

(Side note: If I’m the SEC, and I’m gonna go ahead and pluck Texas A&M – I’d take FSU, Virginia Tech and Clemson to really decimate the regional rival ACC’s football product. Hope it doesn’t happen, but if I was in charge, that’s what I’d do. Going from message board to message board, the scenarios being thrown around change by the team. With Virginia Tech, Virginia seems to be seen as a two-team deal with them, which I don’t get…since they weren’t in the same conference for awhile. With Clemson and FSU, apparently, their rivals SC and UF will attempt to block a move to the SEC. It’s just a tangled mess.).

2) Actual 2011 football talk – is this the year the ACC finally lands two BCS-bowl teams?

I think so, with wavering confidence.

It’s not exactly a bet I’d take to Vegas, but the schedule is friendly to Virginia Tech for a 11+ win season – and I’m projecting FSU as the ACC champ so there’s your other BCS-bowl slot.

Like we addressed the other day, the Hokies shoring up the offensive line will be key to any run they make this season, and on that o-line, rests the ACC’s shot at two bids.

3) More actual 2011 football talk – how many top 25 teams will the ACC end up with?

After fielding five preseason AP top-25 teams last season, the conference finished with four (Virginia Tech, FSU, Maryland and NC State).

This year, the ACC put two – count ‘em – two in the preseason top-25 with favorites FSU and Virginia Tech.

My money is on three – FSU, Virginia Tech and pick a team from NC State, Miami and UNC. If it’s a down year for a couple of conferences, two or maybe all three slip in the back of the poll.

Since you probably only read the expansion part – thoughts?