And then there were two… and soon it will be one. Right?
Since the BCS era began, 9 of the 15 national champions have been undefeated. This, of course, means that 6 national champions have had losses. However, once a team loses a game, it invites other parties (voters, computers, etc.) to determine whether it can even play for the national championship. Ask Oklahoma State about how that worked out last year. For the ACC, this means that there are only two teams left that control their national championship destiny: Florida State (3-0) and Clemson (3-0). They play this weekend. By Saturday evening, the ACC will be down to just one remaining undefeated team. Or will it…
As noted above, 60% of the recent national champions have been undefeated. All of those teams have come from BCS conferences. There are currently a whopping 26 teams from BCS conferences that are undefeated, and 27 if you include Notre Dame. That seems like a lot, even for this time of year.
Of those 27 teams, only two are from the ACC–FSU and Clemson. And Clemson travels to FSU this weekend for their annual matchup. That means that the ACC will be down to its final undefeated team by Saturday night. To paraphrase Princess Leia: “Help us <insert winner of Saturday’s game>, you’re our only hope.”
And that’s what it comes down to for the ACC right now. Virginia Tech’s mind numbing loss to Pitt removed a contender. Miami and North Carolina are talented, but suspended and nowhere near ready for a title run. Did anyone really think Georgia Tech or Virginia would run the table? Of course not. And the rest of the teams? Please. Most of them are fighting for mere bowl-eligibility at this point. So, what was once a three-team race is now down to a two-team race, and soon it will be one.
September is barely gone and the ACC will be down to one national contender.
But, as Lee Corso would say… “not so fast my friend.”
What about Notre Dame? Notre Dame is undefeated. They still have to play Michigan, Stanford, Oklahoma, and USC. If they run THAT table, wow.
But Notre Dame did just announce it was joining the ACC at some point. Unlike its deal with the Big East, Notre Dame is making a substantially greater commitment to the ACC for football. In the meantime, Notre Dame’s relationship with the Big East has gone from “sleeping on the couch” to “waiting for lawyers to finalize the divorce.” If Notre Dame were to run the table, the September partnership would mean that the ACC would have a better right than anyone else to claim some credit for a Notre Dame title. More so than anyone else (other than Notre Dame, itself, obviously).
So… to paraphrase Yoda, “perhaps there is another.”
And, really, the way things have gone for the ACC in football lately, a convoluted claim to a credit for a national championship by a future partial member is better than what has happened lately. You take what you can get.