ACC Could Sweep SEC Rivals for First Time Since 2000

By Scott Page

The relationship between the ACC and SEC could aptly be described as a sibling rivalry. These geographically intertwined conferences have competed for coaches, players and even schools for decades. There are also a number of heated in-state rivalries that cross conference lines.

For most part, the SEC has played the part of big brother, constantly reminding little brother, the ACC, of their second-tier position in the pecking order. But every now and then little brother finds the strength and courage to stand up against its bigger, stronger rival. And the ACC has a chance this weekend to do something it hasn’t done in more than a decade – sweep its big three SEC rivals.

Georgia is down. Florida is out. And South Carolina is anything but invincible.

The ACC last went 3-0 against those three way back in 2000. The SEC teams, on the other hand, have swept their ACC rivals four times since then – 2012, 2009, 2006 and 2001.

This season, like every other in recent memory, the pressure is on the ACC – and every other BCS conference – to close the gap with the mighty SEC. The difference between the ACC and every other conference is it lives, so to speak, in the same house as the SEC.

This year is also different for the ACC because not only can Georgia Tech, Florida State and Clemson win these games, but they are all expected to.

Georgia has now lost starting quarterback Aaron Murray for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. For the first time since 2009 the Bulldogs will line up with a different quarterback under center. Redshirt freshman Hutson Mason will lead the Georgia offense against a much-improved Georgia Tech defense.

The Yellow Jackets have won four of their last five games, with the lone loss to Clemson. But the recent history of this series has been extremely lopsided, with Georgia winning 11 of the last 12 meetings. The exception was in 2008 when Tech pulled off a stunning 45-42 upset of then No. 11 Georgia.

This season it wouldn’t exactly be an upset. But considering the Yellow Jackets’ recent struggles against UGA, winning the season finale would still be a huge deal for the school and the conference.

For both No. 6 Clemson and No. 2 Florida State, BCS bowl berths are at stake this weekend. FSU’s game at Florida appears to be a mere formality. The Gators were just embarrassed at home in a 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern, Florida’s first loss to an FCS program. Florida State, on the other hand, has outscored its past three opponents 198-20.

Barring a bus breakdown that prevents the Noles from making it to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium by game time Saturday, they’ll win. It’s as simple as that.

Things are a bit trickier, however, for the Tigers. If Tajh Boyd and company can’t find a way to take down the Gamecocks he will leave behind a storied career at Clemson that’s missing one huge accomplishment – a win over South Carolina. The Gamecocks have won four-straight over the Tigers, and winning a fifth-straight would give South Carolina its longest winning streak in the history of the rivalry. Clemson is probably a little more talented than the Gamecocks, and they sure won’t need any extra motivation for this one.

If all goes right, Saturday could be a game-changer for the ACC. Sweeping its SEC rivals could help quiet the “basketball conference” insults that big brother often throws its way. If the ACC lays an egg and blows a great opportunity to stand up to big brother, well, you know how big brothers are. They’ll never hear the end of it.

Scott Page is a college football writer for Follow him on Twitter, Like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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