It was clear the ACC was going to be down a little, but the league didn’t even make it to September before losing its skirt.
Here’s a review:
cNo. 9 Clemson, the ACC’s highest ranked team and the league’s unanimous preseason favorite, was mauled at a neutral site 34-10 by Alabama, a team that will finish somewhere between fourth and seventh in the SEC. Actually, the score doesn’t do justice to the magnitude of the physical throttling Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide visited upon Clemson in the Georgia Dome. Consider these two staggering statistics: Alabama possessed the ball for 41:13. Second, the Crimson Tide rushed for 239 yards while holding the Tigers’ vaunted running attack to zero net yards.
In related news, Thunder and Lightning have filed defamation suits against Clemson’s backfield combo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller.
cNo. 17 Virginia Tech, the ACC’s second highest ranked team and its Coastal Division favorite, managed to lose to East Carolina 27-22. And in spite of the irony that one of the darkest days of the Frank Beamer Era came courtesy of East Carolina’s blocked punt for a touchdown with 1:52 remaining, this result was no fluke. The Pirates dominated the Hokies in every statistical category.
cHoping to launch its “Power of Orange” campaign with a statement performance, Virginia instead was obliterated by USC 52-7. This was one of those dangerous mismatches in which every spectator simply hopes the football players don’t disfigure too many future Rhodes Scholars.
cIn other action, South Carolina eviscerated N.C. State 34-0 in a matchup of SEC/ACC also-rans, again illustrating the superiority of the SEC and the silly decision made by Tom O’Brien two years ago when he left a sustainable stronghold at Boston College for the pigskin purgatory that exists in Raleigh, N.C.
cNo kudos to Maryland or North Carolina, either; scrapes against foes formerly known as Division I-AA fodder (Delaware and McNeese State) deserve only a sense of surprise. Congrats are in order after debut victories for Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech) and David Cutcliffe (Duke). But when the next AP poll is released Tuesday afternoon, Wake Forest could be the ACC’s only ranked team. How long until Midnight Madness again?
Individually, the weekend’s top development is the injury to Ohio State‘s Chris “Beanie” Wells, who had to be carried off the field in Saturday’s 43-0 victory over Youngstown State. According to Ohio State, X-rays taken of Wells’ right foot were negative, but the Buckeyes’ season hangs in the balance of Beanie’s health. A preseason Heisman favorite, Wells was and is the Ohio State offense. Even with the bruising tailback at full strength, Ohio State probably would be the underdog in its upcoming clash at USC on Sept. 13. Without Wells, the Buckeyes’ shot against the Trojans, and thus their BCS title hopes, vanishes.
Gameballs and gassers
This week’s most impressive performers were USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who passed for a career-high 338 yards and three touchdowns at Virginia, and Alabama’s Terrence Cody. The 6-foot-5, 370-pound defensive lineman was the key to Alabama’s mastery of Clemson’s running attack.
While the ACC basically monopolized this week’s gasser category, Dave Wannstedt at Pittsburgh deserves a few sprints. Just when it looked like the program was about to turn the corner with tailback LeSean McCoy and a No. 25 preseason ranking, the Panthers drop their opener to lowly Bowling Green 27-17. Unless he finishes the season with eight wins, Wannstedt will get a pink slip in his stocking this Christmas.