Another Atlantic Coast Conference football season came and went meekly over the weekend.
The ACC, which has managed to drag Miami, Florida State and perhaps even Virginia Tech down to its not-ready-for-prime-time level, didn't distinguish itself – again..
Oh, it beat up what we used to call Division I-AA teams, going a perfect 4-0 against them (5-0 if you count Big 12 wallflower Baylor, which fell to Wake Forest).
Boston College took out Kent, if you're looking for bright spots. The Hokies played East Carolina close.
But in the games that define college football's hierarchy – games against Alabama and Southern Cal and Steve Spurrier – the ACC got kicked to the kids' table.
If college football is a rainbow, the ACC is gray.
North Carolina had to struggle to beat McNeese State at home. N.C. State may not score for several games. Virginia surrendered 52 points to Southern Cal and near the end of the game, Cavaliers coach Al Groh had the blank-faced look of a man wondering when Duke shows up on the schedule.
It was a weekend when Duke's performance was considered special.
At least there's Wake Forest.
With no offense toward Jim Grobe and all that his program has accomplished – a standing ovation seems appropriate – what does that say about the state of ACC football that the Deacons have become the league's power?
It says enough.
The situation might not seem so grim had Clemson not looked so overmatched against Alabama Saturday night.
Clemson hasn't beaten Alabama in football since 1905 and based on the evidence provided in the Georgia Dome, it might be at least another 103 years before the Tigers do it again.
The Tigers' loss fed into all the dark fears Clemson fans had tried to tuck away over the summer.
This game – this year – was going to be different.
This was going to be the season when the Tigers played football the way they do in the dreams of all the Clemson fans who still remember the way it was when they didn't just run down the hill, they were kings of it.
Instead, the Tigers were guilty of excessive disappointment.
It was just one game, one loss in a long season. The Tigers can still win the ACC championship but they must first gain a few yards on the ground. One game into the season, Clemson still has no rushing yards.
Maybe Florida State will rediscover its missing mojo. Ditto for Miami.
There's reason to think new coach Paul Johnson will make Georgia Tech better.
There's cautious optimism in Chapel Hill.
There's a chance N.C. State will beat William and Mary.
And, if you look hard enough, you can see basketball season in the distance.
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