We can all remember when Miami and Virginia Tech joined the conference. Many stated that the ACC would be the cream of the crop. With the automatic BCS bid the conference is given, we have produced many contenders who have turned out to be pretenders. The ACC is 2-10 in BCS games. A measly .167 gives the ACC the worst winning percentage out of Big 6 BCS schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision . The ACC really needs to step it up. Could this be the year?
I believe this will be the year the ACC steps it up. With ESPN's Mark Schlabach pre-preseason rankings it makes you think that many agree with this statement. Schlabach has 5 ACC teams in the top 25: Virginia Tech, Florida State, UNC, Miami and Georgia Tech all made the cut. Some may even argue that Clemson should have also been in the top 25. I can certainly agree with this notion. This post though isn't solely about rankings. It is more so about how we stack up against out of conference opponents.
ACC schools will face many out of conference teams this year. Not all of these games will be of much importance. We will have a total of 12 games which I believe will be statement games. By statement, I mean a game that will turn people's head in our direction if we were to win. The statement games are as follows (predicted winners in all caps): miami @ OSU, (9/1), lsu @ UNC (9/4), VT vs. boise (9/6), FSU @ ou (9/11), virginia @ USC (9/11), nc state vs CINCINNATI (9/16), CLEMSON @ auburn (9/18), maryland @ WVU (9/18), MIAMI @ pitt (9/23), UNC @ rutgers (9/25), GT @ georgia (11/27) and florida state vs. florida (11/27). As you can see I have picked the ACC to go 6-5 in outer conference play. I refuse to make a prediction against florida since there are too many unknowns for me in that one. I believe that if we're even with or above .500 than it's a wash. Yes it's respectable but that's about it. It'll make us seem average. If we go 8-4, we make a statement. Even though I don't think we will make a statement as a whole with our out of conference schedule, I do believe that the top tier teams (VT, FSU, UNC, UM, GT and Clemson) will make a statement. I believe the top tier teams will either finish at 6-3 or 7-2. Both records are more than respectable against top 25 programs. This is the year!
In an effort to view things without bias, I believe VT will win the ACC. Even though the have unanswered questions on defense I think their offense will be very formidable (sounds eerily familiar...). I also believe that for the first time the ACC will have an at large team in a BCS Bowl. Not really sure if this means VT will have to make it to the MNC but if they can make it through their tough division unbeaten and take the ACC, they will play in the MNC. Honestly even if Hokies don't win the ACC Championship I think there will be 2 teams in BCS Bowl Games. The questions is, what 2 teams will make it? Hopefully this time we'll be able to win both and increase our winning percentage. If you want to talk about making a statement two victories would be the perfect exclamation points.