Despite there being 14 teams in the ACC this season, the conference race has basically come down to just four teams. There are four teams that are undefeated in ACC play, with those teams being Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech. All of these teams are also currently ranked in the AP Top-25. The ACC has improved as a conference this year, but the there is a significant drop-off after these four teams. Clemson and Florida State are in the Atlantic Division, while Virginia Tech and Miami are in the Coastal Division. Every other team in the Coastal division already has two conference losses, which reassures that Miami and Virginia Tech are a step above everyone else.
The Atlantic division is a little closer having only three teams with at least two conference losses. The two one loss teams are Maryland, who got blasted by Florida State two weeks ago, and Syracuse who got hammered by Clemson two weeks ago. Maryland and Syracuse have proved on the football field that they are nowhere near ready to compete with Florida State or Clemson.
The conference is now going to play out like a tournament. We will basically have two semifinal games and then the ACC championship game. The first semifinal game will be between Clemson and Florida State this weekend in Death Valley. The winner of that game will have the inside track to get to the title game in Charlotte, while the loser will need a lot of help. The second semifinal game will take place on November 2 in Miami when the Hurricane host Virginia Tech. That game will most likely decide the Coastal division representative. The winner of each of these big division games will likely meet for the ACC title in early December.
It is a good thing that the ACC has these big-time national relevant games, but it is also a shame that the rest of the conference is so far behind the top teams. Teams like Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia need to get back to competing and winning big games in order to give the ACC more credibility. Clemson and Florida State have been blowing just about every ACC team out the past two seasons, with their only tough games being against each other. The depth of the conference must improve for the national perception.
However, the game this Saturday in primetime will be a clash of top-five ACC teams, which will showcase some of the best athletes in the country. There are NFL players on both offenses and both defenses. Everyone circled this game when schedules were released and it is finally upon us. After the game this weekend, people will then turn their focus to the big matchup between the Hokies and the Hurricanes. October and November will be very interesting times within the ACC.
Travis Patterson, Writer For ACC Rantsports.com. Follow on Twitter @tpat20. https://twitter.com/tpat20