The Atlantic Coast Conference has looked both impressive and disastrous in the first two weeks of play. Some teams and specific players have shined, while other teams have left their fan bases without much for the season.
One of the biggest measuring sticks for conferences is the early season matchups with powerhouse teams from opposing conferences. In recent years, top teams have really been branching out and trying to make a statement early in the season. One of the effects of these big matchups can be a letdown against weaker opponents in the following week.
The ACC has already had some major résumé building wins within the first two weeks of the season. Florida State fell into a hole early but was ultimately able to dig themselves out in the second half and soundly defeated Mississipi. Ole Miss was one of the favorites to win the SEC this season and by defeating them, Florida State cemented themselves as national title contenders. Clemson also had a big win over a national power in Auburn. These two wins strengthed a belief which had been growing over the offseason: that the ACC is as good as, if not better than, the SEC. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the season develops. I would expect that these conferences will match up in many bowl games, including the NCAA Championship.
In other positive ACC news, Louisville has looked like one of the most impressive teams in the country. They have demolished both Charlotte and Syracuse while averaging 66 points per game. Their offense has been led by perhaps the best player in the country right now, quaterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson has already accounted for 13 touchdowns (rushing and passing) through two games and has looked absolutely unstoppable. Some of the plays he has made have been simply unfathomable.
Unfortunately, not everything was positive for the ACC these past two weeks. Virginia has been a borderline embarrassment to the conference thus far. To be fair, UVA has a brand new coach and is clearly rebuilding, so I expect them to be very good in the years to come.
However, this year will certainly be an uphill battle for the Cavaliers. UVA opened their season at home against FCS opponent Richmond. The Spiders made easy work of the Cavaliers and the final score of 37-20 was not fully indicative of how easily the game was won by Richmond. UVA followed up this underwhelming performance with a 44-26 loss to the Oregon Ducks. This was a road game, and Oregon is a very good program, so this loss was expected; however, the Cavaliers have a long way to go before becoming a respectable program again.
Clemson also had a performance that reflected poorly on the conference. While they defeated Auburn in week one, they found themselves having to battle against heavy underdogs Troy. The game went down to the wire and is not something that should ever happen to a national championship contender. This game raised real questions as to how good the Tigers actually are.
The first two weeks of the season have been incredibly exciting, and some schools have already begun conference play.
Florida State and Clemson still remain the favorites to win the conference, but Louisville is certainly knocking at the door.
This weekend’s matchup between Louisville and FSU will certainly be exciting and should clarify the race for the ACC title.