CLEMSON -- This summer, ACC commissioner John Swofford said that for the conference to return to national relevance it needed a national title contender.
After Week 1, the Greensboro office might already be thinking about next year.
Even though North Carolina showed resolve against LSU without 13 players, and Virginia Tech might have been more talented but still lost to Boise State, the ACC still went 0 for 2 in national spotlight games in the opening week.
Virginia Tech was the league's top-ranked team in the preseason poll (10th overall). North Carolina was a dark horse national title contender before agent- and tutor-gate.
Now No. 12 Miami might be the conference's last best chance for a title contender -- and to change perception.
The Hurricanes travel to No. 2 Ohio State for another showcase game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN). No. 17 Florida State also plays a key nonconference game at No. 10 Oklahoma at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (WCIV-TV/ABC).
The Floridians: Some think this is the year Miami and Florida State return to prominence. It's early but both teams were impressive in opening-week wins. Both teams are again ranked in the top 20. FSU QB Christian Ponder (12 of 14, 167 yards, 4 TDs) looked healthy and like a Heisman contender against Samford. Miami routed Florida A&M, easing concerns over quarterback Jacory Harris' thumb (12 of 15, 210 yards, 3 TDs). The nation will learn much more about these teams this weekend.
The other Stoops: Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' brother, Mark, took over one of the worst defenses in the country as FSU's new defensive coordinator. To compound matters, the Seminoles lost corner Patrick Robinson -- a first-round NFL pick -- and athletic linebacker Dekoda Watson. Stoops is changing the Seminoles from a man coverage team to a zone team, and early returns are positive. Mark Stoops will get a tough test Saturday against his brother and Sooners quarterback Landry Jones.
Maryland's red zone defense: Maybe the Terps have solved the option offense, or maybe the Terps just learned how to play red zone defense, holding Navy to two touchdowns in seven red zone trips. It was a welcomed win for embattled Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen.
Bud Foster's defense: Virginia Tech is the popular pick to win the ACC, but the Hokies have a lot to replace on defense -- seven starters departed -- maybe too much for even talented Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Tech allowed 33 points to Boise State in essentially a home game. A Foster defense has not allowed more than 16.7 points per game since 2004, and has finished as the ACC's No. 1 scoring defense in four of the last five years.
Georgia Tech's passing game: The defending ACC champs will miss departed receiver Demaryius Thomas. Last year, Thomas caught 46 passes for 1,145 yards and 8 TDs in a run-first offense. In the Yellow Jackets' opener against S.C. State, Yellow Jacket quarterbacks combined to complete 2 of 8 passes for 12 yards and an interception. The Yellow Jackets will always be able to run, but will they have any semblance of a passing game?
Clemson's defense: The Tigers were outgained by a Sun Belt team at Death Valley 462 yards to 423. North Texas converted 11 of 22 third downs and kept Clemson on the field for 83 plays. Clemson's run defense was problematic last year and allowed the Mean Green to pile up 193 yards.
He said it
"I don't know if I've ever been prouder of a group of kids," Tar Heels coach Butch Davis said after UNC's loss to LSU. "The way they fought to get themselves back into the ballgame. We didn't play very well in the first half. We made so many mistakes in the kicking game, we really put ourselves in a hole. But one thing that defines your character and your guts is your ability to compete."
Stat of the week
4.9: North Texas' yards per rush if you ignore Clemson's five sacks for 22 yards.
--It was tabbed as the Year of the Quarterback in the ACC and so far, so good with Christian Ponder, Joshua Nesbitt, Jacory Harris, T.J. Yates, Tyrod Taylor and Russell Wilson all having good opening performances.
--Summerville High product A.J. Green is in trouble for selling a game-worn jersey. As Yahoo's Dan Wetzel tweeted: "Green should know only Georgia is allowed to sell an A.J. Green jersey." Something doesn't seem right, does it?
--Boston College's Mark Herzlich gets comeback player of the year honors by just suiting up Saturday. He recorded five tackles in his first game back from battling cancer.
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