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ACC and Canes not Worthy===says writer! COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Someone is going to have a beef. A good one. Whether it’s Utah or Ball State, TCU or Brigham Young, there’s going to be a group of football players from a non-BCS conference watching the Orange Bowl from their couch on New Year’s Day, steaming mad that an ACC team is there instead of their own. They’ll be right, of course. The ACC school that receives the league’s automatic berth in the Orange Bowl won’t deserve it. Not after a season in which the conference’s image has taken a hit thanks to a roster of run-of-the-mill teams, all of whom would lose – or at least struggle mightily – against the aforementioned schools from the MAC and Mountain West. ADVERTISEMENT The perfect example of the ACC’s mediocrity occurred Saturday, when 17th-ranked North Carolina became the latest league squad to wet itself when a victory would’ve all but clinched the Tar Heels a spot in the league title game Dec. 6 in Tampa, Fla. Instead, Butch Davis’ team failed to score a second-half touchdown and missed a 28-yard field goal in a 17-15 road loss to Maryland. “There are a lot of kids in our locker room right now that are hurting,” Davis said, “but there is still a lot to play for.” Of course there is. You never know which team will be the next to choke. Virginia Tech did it Thursday night, when it all but eliminated itself from the conference title race by losing 16-14 to Miami. Virginia has lost two straight after starting 3-1 in league play. Wake Forest sat atop the conference’s Coastal Division before falling to last-place North Carolina State on Saturday. Later, No. 20 Florida State failed at home against Boston College. Now Maryland may be the next in line to gag. Will the Terrapins win their last two and secure a spot in the Dec. 6 title game? Or will they ruin their chances with a home loss to Florida State next week in a contest that Ralph Friedgen labeled “one of the biggest games we’ve [ever] had here.” “Most of the other conferences, you already know who’s going to be in their championship game,” Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said. “With the ACC, you don’t know who’s going to win. One week it’s one team, the next week it’s another. The ACC is exciting right now. It’s the best thing to watch on television.” Speak for yourself, Darrius. Saturday’s North Carolina-Maryland game might have been one of the least-exciting two-point games in recent history. Overthrown passes, errant snaps and dropped interceptions were among the foibles. Byrd Stadium had the energy of a Tupperware party as Maryland went seven consecutive possessions without a score until kicking the game-winning field goal with 1:42 remaining. Even those in the press box couldn’t help but chuckle at the buffoonery. When someone clapped after a Maryland first down, the in-house public address announcer stressed that there was to be “no cheering in the press box.” “How about booing?” one reporter asked. “Can we boo?” “What about snoring?” another one asked. “Is that allowed?” It might not be at Maryland – but it should be at the Orange Bowl, which could turn rotten if the ACC representative ends up playing a team from the Big 12. Last year’s game saw Virginia Tech lose to a pedestrian Kansas squad that’s since been exposed thanks to a tougher schedule. But this year the opponent could end up being Texas Tech, Texas or Oklahoma. That, folks, could be ugly. Not that an ACC guy would ever admit it. “I don’t think the league is down,” Maryland defensive tackle Mack Frost said. “I feel we’re as good as any league out there … the SEC, the Big Ten or whoever. “It’s just that we have more parity, more teams that can beat each other. Most people don’t understand that. They just look at how we don’t have any teams in the top 10. But it’s hard to get in the top 10 in this league because there are so many people that can beat each other.” Actually, it’s tough to even get into the rankings. North Carolina and Florida State were the conference’s only ranked teams in last week’s Associated Press poll. Both will likely fall out this week, with Maryland standing a decent chance to break in. The Terrapins boast the ACC’s signature win of the season – a Sept. 13 victory over Cal. But, true to ACC form, Maryland has also lost to Middle Tennessee State. “There are a lot of schools,” Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin said after Saturday’s game, “that would love to be 7-3 right now.” And most of them probably would be if they played in the ACC. Jason King is a college football and basketball writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send Jason a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Toggle Commented Nov 16, 2008 on Canes control destiny now at Eye on the U
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