Monday, September 13, 2010

N.C. State one of the ACC's few bright spots

N.C. State is suddenly one of the few positive stories in an ACC football season that has been derailed after only two weeks.

Virginia Tech, the preseason pick to win the league,has been humiliated, with defeats to Boise State and now James Madison. Miami, Florida State and Georgia Tech all suffered deflating losses. And North Carolina is under a double investigation that has the feel of Ken Starr investigating the Clintons - it just goes on and on and on. Even Duke, which has high hopes under David Cutcliffe, couldn't hold Wake Forest under 50 points and 500 yards in yet another exasperating loss to the Deacons.

The league will have only one team - Miami - in the rankings when they come out Monday, a pretty humbling turn of events for a conference that yearns for recognition in football. It seems like the net of expansion has not been that other teams rise to the level of the incoming powers, but the new teams instead stumble back to the ACC pack.

The ACC should have at least four programs in the national picture on a regular basis - Florida State, Miami, Clemson and Virginia Tech - and North Carolina, N.C. State and Georgia Tech have the resources and traditions to make regular appearances in the Top 25 as well.

Some ACC team could well get on a roll and go on to a decent year, but any thought of a team contending for a national title is out of the question. The ACC is far from fielding a team of that caliber, as Alabama will show on Saturday in Durham.

So that leaves N.C. State at 2-0 with Cincinnati coming to Raleigh Thursday for an ESPN contest. Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien is already complaining about the fast turnaround, but that's often the price of national exposure. A win Thursday puts State on target for a winning season, a great reward for Wolfpack fans who have hung in there with the program.

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