The Atlantic Coast Conference has some important games this weekend. Those games will not only determine the playoff viability of the conference (more on that later), but also determine how strong the ACC is compared against a certain conference. And we’re not talking about the big brother Southeastern Conference.
Enter the Big Ten.
The ACC-Big Ten challenge has arrived three months early in football season. Look at the slate of ACC-B1G match-ups this weekend:
- Virginia Tech-Purdue
Notice that both leagues teams come their respective conferences’ weaker divisions (ACC’s Coastal and B1G’s West). While that may be merely coincidental, those match-ups will determine how good the ACC’s depth is. If the ACC wins all those games, it would be considered the better and deeper conference (Ohio State and Michigan State notwithstanding).
In the world of perception of power in college sports, this would give the ACC a boost in strength of competition from the College Football Playoff committee which would bode well at season’s end.
Speaking of the playoff, there are three games that will go a long way in determining the conference’s playoff prospects.
- Florida State-Boston College
- Georgia Tech-Notre Dame
I included the first two match-ups because they feature the ACC’s best two teams having tough contests on the road. Clemson is regarded by many as being THE best team in the league, and while Louisville may be down, Papa John’s Stadium is still a tough place to play. It’s a Thursday prime-time game, and a desperate Louisville team will do anything to avoid being 0-3.
I am worried about Florida State this week. Boston College, while playing cupcakes in its first two games, looks hella tough. I don’t care the level of competition, it is hard to beat someone 76-0 as the Eagles did to Howard. BC historically gives FSU fits anyway, and the Seminoles haven’t looked but so great in last week’s game vs. South Florida.
If either Clemson of FSU goes down, it would be a huge blow to both team’s playoff chances.
Having said that, Georgia Tech has the most to gain this weekend. I know that Notre Dame is a walking M.A.S.H. unit right now, but if the Yellow Jackets beat the Irish in South Bend, Tech would become the stronger playoff candidate out of the ACC.
After all, the Irish are still the glamour boys of college football. And any team who beats them will have its chance in the limelight.
Just look at Tech’s schedule for a minute. If the Jackets win at Duke, vs. FSU, at Clemson, vs. Virginia Tech, at Miami and vs. Georgia would make the CFP committee salivate. Hell, even a loss would still keep the Jackets in the conversation. Just as long as they beat Notre Dame.
Imagine Georgia Tech beating Notre Dame, the ACC’s other two best teams starting 3-0, and the ACC getting the best of the B1G. The ACC would have earned its place in the sun and then some…