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Sunday Morning Optimism

Three encouraging signs for a bad conference after two weeks in:

West Virginia Got It Worse - Virginia Tech's loss to ECU doesn't look as bad after the Pirates rolled over West Virginia in Greenville. I'm not ready to pencil them in for a New Year's bowl, as I think both the Hokies and the Mountaineers will end up looking solidly mediocre by seasons' end, but there are at least two BCS conferences East Carolina could compete in this year.

What's interesting to me is that for all the ridicule the ACC was subjected to last week, they may be a better conference than the Big East when all is said and done. UConn was a joke (more on that later), Pitt briefly had the most impressive win in the conference and the Syracuse - the Duke of the conference - was being blown out by mighty Akron. The Big East, like the ACC, will have one team in the Top 20 next week in South Florida and the next interconference games this year, with the exception of NCSU-USF all winnable by the ACC. Respectibility may be around the corner.

The Conference Game Was Good - And not in a close-game-due-to-futility way, either. Georgia Tech's new offense had some impressive runs, both defenses were surprisingly solid, and I could even see the Yellow Jackets sneaking into the pols by November.

Miami Has Some Life - After three quarters, they had held a Top 5 team to a 9-3 score and pounded official Florida saint Tim Tebow to the point of distraction. Then the Gators finally figured out the pass rush and it was all over for the Hurricanes, but this wasn't the hapless Miami of last season. I'd prefer a weaker Miami for when UNC comes to town, but it's better for the conference as a whole if these SEC-ACC games are competitive.

And five heartening bits of play from UNC's schedule this season:

Wow, Maryland Is Bad - Everything was bad about this game, up to and including the camera work, which appeared to be recorded on an iPhone. (Ah, Comcast SportsNet, when will you just implode from shear incompetence?) Testudo Times had an excellent point - Da'Rel Scott was almost your entire team last week, so how did he only get eleven carries this time around? I'm still waffling on whether to go to the UMd-UNC game. At this rate, it may not be worth the Metro fare.

Wow, Virginia Is Bad - When it takes you until midway to the fourth quarter to score a touchdown against Richmond at home, well, you're no Middle Tennessee State. The Cavs showed themselves to be equally hapless against the talentless as they were against the talented, mustering only 91 yards on the ground. Don't call it a defensive effort as much as two very bad offenses forced to share a field.

Wow, Notre Dame Is Bad - It should not take that much work to beat San Diego State. Well, maybe if you're Cal Poly, but not if you're Notre Dame. The Irish couldn't establish a ground game and needed some quick thinking on a goal line Aztec fumble to avoid becoming the latest team on the Tar Heels' schedule to start the season with an embarrassing loss. The degree of difficulty gets harder over the next couple of weeks, and it could be a quite demoralized team that arrives in Kenan in October.

Wow, Connecticut Is Bad - An overtime win against Temple? UConn was a one-man team, with Donald Brown rushing for 214 yards while everything else was turnovers and missed field goals. UNC has had trouble in the past defending against strong running backs, but this sort of score can only be heartening for Carolina's chances. Hell, it was heartening for Virginia, the Huskies' next opponent.

Wow, N.C. State Is Bad - Yes they finally found a quarterback to move the ball, with Harrison Beck throwing for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns. Of course, Beck won't be starting under center next week at Clemson - that job is going to Russell Wilson, back from a concussion. And they did give up 24 points to a D1-AA school. And USC, the team that beat them into the ground the week before 34-0, turned around and lost to Vanderbilt, further knocking the Wolfpack down the impressive scale.

That's five teams on UNC's schedule playing D1-AA teams or their Bowl Division counterparts, finishing with a total score of 97 to 72. That's some bad football, Harry.