ACC Coming Attractions: Big suspension, Power 5 matchups, local rivalries
A suspension, an ACC-Big 10 Challenge of sorts and a rivalry renewed between two programs eager to relive their glory days. This is actually a big week for the league as there are plenty of marquee Power 5 matchups, and even a regional one that’s not a Power 5 game for North Carolina but has plenty of local interest.
Florida State was a heavy faovrite over Clemson. Until Jameis Winston did something pretty stupid, yet again, and his head coach Jimbo Fisher had finally had enough. He’ll sit for the first half as No. 1 FSU hosts No. 22 Clemson, and that half could well be enough, depending on how good Clemson actually is. We still don’t really know that, either.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has continued to insist that they’re nearly as good as the Seminoles, in spite of last year’s lopsided outcome that seemed to suggest the two programs were worlds apart. Well, now is Clemson’s chance to prove it.
Get your popcorn: Karate Kid. Florida State is basically the Cobra Kai dojo to Clemson’s Daniel. The real question is whether a hobbled Clemson can effectively assume the "Crane" technique or if Florida State, even without Jameis Winston, will sweep the leg. Sean Maguire is basically playing the role of the kid who injured Daniel in the first place, while Winston will attempt to come in and play the role of Johnny. Only the Seminoles hope the outcome is different.
The glory days of the Nebraska-Miami rivalry were glorious indeed, and both of the programs used to be among the best in college football. They faced off in the postseason five times between 1984 and 2002, most with the national championship on the line. The two schools haven’t met since 2002, when they played for the national championship. Miami has played for it once since (the next season) and neither has really sniffed it since. College football is just more fun — and more complete — when two programs with this kind of history get together, and it’s great that this rivalry has been renewed.
Get your popcorn: Terms of Endearment. It was the No. 1 movie at the box office the first time these two teams met for a national championship (January 1984), and part of it is filmed in Nebraska. Plus, it’s about relationships — they love each other, they hate each other, but ultimately, they need each other.
Every year, seemingly, this is a close game. And every year — except last year, of course — it decides the Coastal Division winner, no matter how early in the year it is (and it’s usually the first or second ACC game for each team). Since Paul Johnson’s arrival in 2008, the six meetings have been decided by a score or less five out of six times and yet, Georgia Tech has only won one (in 2009, the year the Yellow Jackets won the ACC).
The last three seasons, Georgia Tech has gone 5-3 in ACC play — and one of their three losses has always come to the Hokies. Last year, they would have won the Division had they knocked off the Hokies (they had a tiebreaker over Duke). Even though both programs seemed to be headed in different directions when the year began — heck, even as recently as a week ago — it would seem that really, we’re all rolling over in the morning and hearing Sonny and Cher blare on the radio alarm clock.
This one’s going to be fun. Again.
Get your popcorn: Groundhog Day. Every year, we think that these two teams have separated. Maybe Virginia Tech is back now, we thought. Maybe Georgia Tech was becoming a dominant program, we thought three or four years ago. Either way, this game seems to almost always be close, almost always be weird and almost always be … the same.
I wouldn’t call James Conner a fish — at least, not to his face — but the sophomore tailback has been an absolute machine for Pitt his year, running for 544 yards on 81 carries (6.7 per rush) and eight touchdowns. He sure looks like the best offensive player in the ACC so far, and he’s carried this Pitt run-heavy offense to a 3-0 start. Now, Iowa and its stingy run defense comes to town, and the Hawkeyes are going to be angry after a disappointing loss to Iowa State. Can Conner save the day again?
Get your popcorn: The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh. Just because this movie is absolutely glorious in its absurdity.
When North Carolina travels to play its in-state rival East Carolina, there will be a lot of hard feelings to go around. No matter how much success ECU has had over the years — and it has had plenty, especially this year — the in-state so-called "Power 5" schools are always going to view them as the annoying little brother of sorts. They don’t want to play them. What do they have to gain from it?
They’re just a thorn in the side of the local schools, who ECU has now taken two straight games against and will look to take a third just a week removed from its huge upset of Virginia Tech. But all North Carolina fans will ever see them as, no matter what, is an annoyance.
Get your popcorn: Neighbors. East Carolina is the fraternity house, while UNC is the uppity couple next door just trying to get a little sleep. But there won’t be much sleep to be had no matter which way the game ends in Greenville this weekend, where the parties will rage into the night and North Carolina will roll its eyes and try to find a subtle way to call the police so they can get a little shut-eye.