Everything is going according to plan this season for the No. 1 Clemson Tigers. The Tigers are 3-0 this year after a 41-6 win over Syracuse on Saturday, extending their winning streak to 18 games. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the rest of the conference, which could ultimately hurt the Tigers in the long run.
The ACC endured a woeful weekend, one that will have a negative impact on how the conference is perceived compared to the other power conferences. The ACC already has a rather tenuous reputation, and this weekend isn’t going to help.
It all started Friday night when Boston College fell 48-24 at the hands of Kansas. The Eagles were 20-point favorites at home and completely fell apart after leading 17-7 after the first quarter. They were outscored 41-7 the rest of the way in a home loss that was equal parts embarrassing and puzzling.
The fact that Boston College lost to another power-conference opponent means nothing. Kansas has been the laughingstock of the Big 12 for years, and so being doubled up at home is beyond inexcusable for the Eagles.
The ACC suffered another head-to-head loss with the Big 12 on Saturday when NC State lost to West Virginia 44-27. Once again, the ACC team was favored, as the Wolfpack headed to Morgantown as seven-point favorites against a West Virginia team that lost by 31 points to Missouri the previous week and squeaked out a win over FCS foe James Madison in its season opener.
NC State has been in the top half of the ACC hierarchy for the last handful of years, so a loss to a rebuilding Big 12 program isn’t exactly a proud moment for the Wolfpack or the ACC.
Unfortunately, it got worse for the ACC, as Georgia Tech lost to The Citadel, an FCS opponent. In fairness, the Yellow Jackets are in the early stages of a major rebuilding project, as they transition away from the triple-option. But even with those growing pains, falling at home to an FCS program is a crushing blow to both Georgia Tech and the ACC.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech barely survived its own game with an FCS opponent, winning 24-17 after trailing 14-3 at halftime. Remember, the Hokies lost to Old Dominion last season and barely made a bowl game, making it safe to say that they are no longer the heavyweights they once were.
Finally, there is Clemson’s win over Syracuse. The Orange have floundered offensively this season, one year after having one of the most dynamic offenses in the country. More importantly, they failed to stay competitive with Clemson one year after nearly beating the Tigers in Death Valley. Syracuse was supposed to be the team most capable of challenging Clemson inside the ACC. However, the Tigers discarded them like they do every other team in the league.
There appears to be no other team left on Clemson’s schedule that has a realistic chance of beating the Tigers barring Dabo Swinney’s team taking the day off. The Tigers will likely cruise to the College Football Playoff as a result.
In fact, the biggest fight the Tigers face between now and the CFP is the perception that the ACC is weak, their schedule is weak, and that their resume doesn’t stack up to the rest of the teams fighting for one of those four spots. If the Tigers run the table, it’ll be impossible to keep them out of the CFP, but people will be talking, and that’s bad news for both Clemson and the ACC.