Something struck me as I walked off the field at Bank of America Stadium Saturday afternoon after South Carolina stunned NC State 35-28. Fans were not chanting go Gamecocks. You heard them loudly yelling "SEC, SEC, SEC, SEC!" Message sent loud and clear to the "best football conference in America."
Back in July at the ACC Media Days, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher stated the ACC was the "premier conference in college football."
It's hard to argue that after the last few season. The ACC has won 2 National Championships in the last four years including the reigning champs Clemson. The conference is also home to 2 of the last 4 Heisman Trophy winners including the 2016 winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville.
Last season, the ACC had the best bowl record of any conference as they went 8-3.
But that thud you heard Monday night was the league coming back earth after Georgia Tech blew a 14 point, 4th quarter lead to Tennessee. The Vols would go on for the 42-41 win in overtime.
That was part of a 0-3 weekend for the ACC against the SEC head to head.
NC State was suppose to do work on South Carolina Saturday afternoon. The Wolfpack, with one of the best defensive lines in the country, got put behind the 8 ball early and just couldn't overcome a 14 point, 2nd half deficit in that defeat. State entered the season with a lot of preseason hype but that's all gone now which may be a blessing in disguise for this team. They are talented and will bounce back.
And in the big one, #3 Florida State lost to #1 Alabama 24-7. Not only did they lose the game, the Seminoles lost their starting QB Deondre Francois to a season ending knee injury and now Coach Fisher hands the job to true freshman James Blackmon. The Noles entered the year one of the favorites to win it all but after one game, those chances are on serious life support.
There is no doubt, week 1 was terrible for the ACC, but one week does not mean they have to hand the title of best conference back just yet.
This Saturday, it can be Clemson to the rescue as they host Auburn. Both teams are ranked in the top 15 as Clemson is #3 and Auburn is #13. A win for Clemson would give the league a little swagger back.
And beyond that, November 25th will serve as another Saturday where the ACC can stake their claim as top dog over the SEC as you have big rivalry games like Clemson at South Carolina, Florida State at Florida, and Georgia at Georgia Tech.
I keep pitting the ACC vs the SEC for best conference but could the Big 10 be better than both? They do currently have 4 teams in the AP Top 10. Nice try, but no and here's why.
To me, best conference has to do with the overall conference from top to bottom.
In the end, I still think the ACC will be one of the top 2 conferences in the nation if not the best top to bottom.
Even if the ACC has a sub par year, the longevity of success it has had the last 4 years or so will keep the title "of best conference" in their grasp, but week 1 isn't the way to show your dominance.
BUT, it is just ONE WEEK.
How will the league respond Saturday when Clemson welcomes Auburn?
I don't know, but what I do know is it is good to have college football back. Let the debate continue.
And don't get too bent out of shape, there is no right answer... Calm down Big 10 and PAC 12 fans!
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