The Washington Times - August 30, 2008, 11:30PM

Well, there always seem to be scads of stories before a college football season about whether the ACC can take its supposedly rightful place among the best leagues.

And then the season starts, and there are a bunch of stories about how it hasn’t.


This isn’t one of them. It’s just a report card as the first week winds down. And it isn’t exactly pretty.

Sure, the conference went 7-4. But two of the losses were absorbed by the two purportedly top-15 caliber teams (Virginia Tech and Clemson).

And the most pleasing performances might have been turned in by Duke and Wake Forest, which aren’t traditionally the places the league would expect to find its finest football moments.

A week one rundown:

* Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina all took out teams from the former Division I-AA. Maryland and North Carolina struggled at times, Miami and Georgia Tech dominated. The interesting result was Duke easily handling James Madison 31-7 in David Cutcliffe‘s first game.

In case you were wondering, that was the Blue Devils’ largest margin of victory in an opener since a 49-16 rout of Maryland in 1994.

* Wake Forest throttled Baylor, with Riley Skinner looking extremely efficient in picking apart the Bears.

* Boston College blanked Kent State 21-0, which is a good result on the road for a team that lost quite a bit of talent from last year’s division champions.

Now for the bad.

* Virginia Tech got punked when East Carolina employed its own brand of Beamer Ball and returned a blocked punt for the game-winning touchdown in the closing minutes. At least East Carolina is a good program; the Pirates were due to beat someone of repute.

* N.C. State lost its starting quarterback and probably a little dignity while getting shut out at South Carolina. Could be a long season in Raleigh.

* Lord Groh of Hooville shrouded his quarterbacks in secrecy throughout camp, then ripped into just-anointed starter Peter Lalich after the Cavaliers lost 52-7 to Southern Cal.

Ignore the fact Virginia couldn’t run the ball, couldn’t stop the Trojans and that a football diety composed of the best traits of Johnny Unitas, Sammy Baugh, Joe Montana and Peyton Manning wouldn’t have led the Cavaliers to a win. …

Lalich was the only QB to play for Virginia. Which means Scott Deke and Marc Verica can’t be that good, because otherwise they would have received a look in garbage time. And it also means Lalich (and his supporting cast) need to get better, and quick.

* Alabama is running out the clock on its pulverization of Clemson. The Crimson Tide is up 31-10 (wait, make that 34-10), the Musburglar and Kirk Herbstreit have pointed out during the ABC broadcast the lousy body language and griping on the Tigers’ sideline.

This was going to happen eventually to Clemson, since the Tigers are incapable of going through a season without laying an absolute egg. So many they just got it out of the way before Labor Day.

But this wasn’t the way to carry the torch for the ACC. For those keeping score, that’s a 1-3 record in the first week against programs from BCS conferences. And with all respect to Wake’s dominance, the Demon Deacons beat a school that hasn’t been in a bowl game since 1994.

So those stories about the ACC proving inferior (and its coaches insisting otherwise)? They’re coming, and maybe for a better reason than ever before.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

—- Patrick Stevens