Florida State and Clemson kick off Saturday evening in what will likely be the biggest regular-season game between two ACC teams in 2012.
That’s reason enough to worry about the conference, if you’re an ACC fan. There won’t be anything else that will measure up to the FSU-Clemson battle, and it’s only Week 4.
Seminoles and Tigers fans alike crave nothing other than a blowout win from their team, because the winner would not only have a leg up on the rest of the ACC, they’d be in the discussion to play for the national championship. But a blowout would be the worst thing for the conference, if the true goal is to get into the national scene.
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Think about it — there was no shortage of respect for the scrappy Seminoles after their tough loss last season to Oklahoma. The college football world thought FSU would be one of the toughest teams in the country in 2011, despite losing to the top-ranked Sooners. It was only after two more losses in the weeks following that tough loss to OU when people jumped off the bandwagon.
But this year is different. Clemson and FSU both look like they’re worthy of a top-10 ranking. They both have enough talent to stay there, especially because there isn’t much depth in the ACC this year. They already have respect, but people might be skeptical because they’re still unproven. The country expects this to be a close game, and they don’t want to be disappointed with another ACC stinker.
That’s why it can’t be a blowout. If one team runs away from the other, fans from around the nation will tune out and stop watching ACC Football. If they know there are two teams in the conference that are solidly in the national picture, the likelihood they’ll tune in for another game will go up.
It wouldn’t hurt to see two schools from the conference in BCS bowls again this year, too. They’d need to keep winning for that to be a possibility.
So when toe meets leather on Saturday, I’ll be rooting for a close game. The ACC needs it, even if my blood pressure doesn’t.