Similarly to what we did a few weeks ago, it's time for a rundown of the fortunes of the 17th toughest schedule in football. Just in case UNC's BCS ranking becoms a factor or something.
Rutgers (6-0) continues to be the anti-UNC, as it's one of three undefeated Big East teams. They've had an easy go of it, with victories over some of the worst BCS schools (Illinois and UNC), but last week brought an impressive rout of Navy. The #19 Scarlet Knights have a three-game season ahead of them, with Pittsburgh this weekend, and top-ten Louisville and West Virginia in November to decide how high a bowl they'll garner, and a good chunk of their fortunes will rely on whether running back Ray Rice can maintain his 150 yards per game rushing average. Tar Heel fans can fondly look back on the days when Rutgers wasn't sure it could top UNC.
Virginia Tech (4-2, 2-2 ACC) misses it's cleat stomping quarterback. After breezing through a cupcake-heavy September, the Hokies have lost two straight to Georgia Tech and Boston College. The next stretch isn't much easier, with spoiler Southern Miss starting off, followed by Clemson and Miami. Considering Tech needs to win out to have a decent chance of taking the division, it looks like its going to be a tough year in Blacksburg.
Furman (5-2) needs to avoid teams with "Carolina" in the name, after losing to Coastal Carolina (Our Forgotten State) 29-27. Furman has still not not topped the points total they achieved against UNC in Kenan.
Clemson (6-1, 3-1 ACC) has taken much of its frustrations out on lesser teams, breaking the 50-point barrier four times this season, with the closest margin of victory being UNC's 52-7 embarassment. When playing actual football teams, Clemson has gotten a grip on its special teams and came back to stun a Wake Forest squad that had the Tigers on the ropes. The 12th-ranked Clemson next meets #13 Georgia Tech in what could be a preview of the ACC championship game.
Miami (4-2, 1-1 ACC) hasn't been in the news much lately. I wonder what's up with them? They get to take a team 13-players lighter into Durham this weekend, and perhaps losing to Duke is punishment enough for brawling. They'll have their players back for the following two weeks against the two Techs that will decide the Coastal Division. Funny, that.
South Florida (5-2) beat their first ACC team ever this weekend. You may have seen the game. UNC's trajectory against thhe Big East has gone from Rutgers-caliber to USF-caliber to now UConn-caliber, with the Bulls beating the Heels and Huskies by similar margins. USF needs to win it's game this weekend against Cincinnati as only one of its last four Big East opponents looks beatable.
Virginia (2-5, 1-2 ACC) is a riddle wrapped in an engima smothered in secret sauce. Their offense is floundering, their nonconference losses are embarassing, yet they held a 20-0 lead over Maryland before losing 28-26. Coach Al Groh has the full support of Mr. Jefferson's administration, a good thing to have when the unmoving offense meets the unstopping defense on Thursday. Virginia's schedule only gets uglier following UNC, so they better get their win here, or they could fall behind Duke in the conference standings.
Wake Forest (6-1, 2-1 ACC) is bowl eligible and threatening to win the ACC. In football. While the rest of the league is preparing for the End Times, Wake, at #25 ranked for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth, is using its bye week to prepare for #22 Boston College. A win there could give them the momentum to take out FSU and Virignia Tech, leaving only Maryland between them and the conference championship game. Frightening.
Notre Dame (5-1) is Notre Dame. You are reading Rakes of Mallow, right? The Fighting Irish have two lousy state schools and three service academies between them and the season-ending Southern Cal game, and pretty much just have to not look ahead to avoid the upset. Rakes of Mallow also has a bit of motivation to take the survey I mentioned in the diares, if you have a minute.
Georgia Tech (5-1, 3-0 ACC) is enjoying being the only competent team in the Coastal Division, with a two-game lead over all comers. The next two weeks are critical, with Clemson and Miami on the schedule. Following that is a tour of the non-Wake Forest North Carolina schools, a Novemeber that could become one long Calvin Johnson Heisman highlight reel.
N.C. State (7-5, 3-5 ACC) turned a disasterous season around with a mideseason quarterback change. No wait, that's the 2005 Wolfpack. Here's 2006:
N.C. State (3-3, 2-1 ACC) turned a disasterous season around with a mideseason quarterback change. And it's a sign of the ACC's weakness that a squad with losses to Akron and Southern Miss was a week ago talking about an ACC championship. With Maryland and Virginia next on the slate, the Wolfpack could build up a good head of steam before running into Georgia Tech and Clemson. The end result is a better conference record but the same seven-win season.
Duke (0-6, 0-4 ACC) is the most dangerous 0-6 team in the nation. The new Miami-Lite might be their best chance at a win before the season-ending UNC game. Damn the Hurricanes for making me actually root for Duke - an SMU-like death penalty is too good for this team.