Do We Know Anything Yet?

With just one full weekend of football games in the rearview mirror, it is often hard to gauge just how good -- or bad -- the teams of the Atlantic Coast Conference are. And this season is no different.

Only two things stood out in last Thursday's and Saturday's games: Maryland won't win the national title this season, and Tommy Bowden probably won't coach at Clemson next season.

The other ACC teams did little to change the predictions the media and fans placed upon them.

For instance ...

- Georgia Tech's loss at BYU wasn't surprising. You'd expect a team that suffered so much in the offseason would make crucial mental mistakes and flounder to a better team on the road, which is just wha the Ramblin' Wreck did.

- Anyone who thought Wake Forest's win over Boston College was a surprise needs to have their head examined. (And that goes for the folks who picked Wake seventh in the league in the preseason poll.)

- Duke will be better this year, but so will Virginia. And the Cavaliers, who will challenge for the ACC title, played like a team destined for greatness. UVa lost their leader and star, yet they kept chuggin' right along.

- The performance of Florida State QB Chris Rix was a little surprising, but then again, the Californian has always had the talent; Bobby Bowden just hasn't always figured out how to get inside Rix's head. FSU's 37-0 pasting of UNC was a clear example of how wide the gap is between the elite teams in the league (FSU, NCSU, Maryland and UVa) and the rest.

No one expected Clemson to beat Georgia, but Tiger fans paid good money to at least see their team compete with their rivals. It never materialized. Not only did Tommy Bowden's wide-open offense never quite make an appearance, but Bowden began screaming like a lunatic during the first half, looking very much like a man on his last leg as Clemson's coach. Something to consider: Clemson failed to score any points -- with an experienced quarterback, mind you -- at home against a rival, yet Wake Forest went on the road with a green QB and put up 38 points -- 21 of them in the fourth quarter -- on the scoreboard. Ouch.

The bad news for Maryland fans is your team won't win the national title this season. The good news is Maryland is the same team it was just over a week ago, and an ACC title is not out of the question.

Having said that, it's obvious that the Terps need a healthy Bruce Perry and Scott McBrien if they are to contend for the ACC title. And it's not as if Northern Illinois is, say, Western Carolina. The Huskies are a solid MAC team, which is saying something.Nonetheless, Ralph Friedgen's program should be at the point where it can sleepwalk through a game like that and win by three touchdowns.

As for NC State ...

It was rather alarming that WCU put 20 points on the Pack on Saturday night, but what was more alarming was how much time Catamounts QB Brian Gaither had in the pocket. NCSU recorded no sacks on Saturday night, and I'm sure Chuck Amato hasn't slept well this week because of that.

However, if Chuck has had trouble sleeping, he could easily just lay there counting receivers. By nine or 10, the Wolfpack coach could fade off to sleep -- with a smile on his face.

Just my thoughts from Saturday
Perhaps the only real downside to last Saturday's evening game against the Catamounts was seeing the drop-off points for the Wolfpack Club's loose change promotion. I may be in the minority on this, but I thought this attempt at raising even more money from fans -- the same fans who have just shelled out a record number of money for season tickets and lifetime rights -- to be a tad on the tacky side.

Don't get me wrong: I understand that promotions such as this are a great way to get kids involved and make them feel like they are contributing. But a better idea, in my opinion, would've been to ask Wolfpack fans to collect their loose change and bring it to the game to donate to the thousands of textile and apparel workers who have lost their jobs over the years. I'm sure the folks in Kannapolis, Gastonia and Saulisbury, and many other textile communities who have been decimated by the closing of companies such as Pillowtex, would appreciate the gesture. NCSU is the No. 1 textile school in the world, and many of its graduates are having trouble putting food on their tables -- let alone loose change in the Wolfpack Club's coffers.

'Now' ACC Standings
1. Florida State: Seminoles looked like they turned back the clock a few years in their whipping of Carolina.
2. NC State: No surprise here. The Pack took care of business convincingly against Western Carolina. (Defensive intensity is in question, however.)
3. Virginia: Even without QB Matt Schaub, the Wahoos had their way with (what should be an improved) Duke.
4. Maryland: T'is better to have a reality check in the first game of the year, against a non-conference foe, than in the last game of the year against one of your conference rivals.
5. Wake Forest: Deacs are already in late-season form.
6. Georgia Tech: Chan Gailey's Jackets continue on a downward spiral.
7. Duke: If the Devils can find a competent QB, then they just may win some games.
8. North Carolina: Neither the Tar Heels nor their fans ever appeared to be in the loss to FSU.
9. Clemson: If you know you're on the hot seat, don't you need your team to at least show up?

'Then' ACC Standings
1. Miami
2. Virginia Tech
3. Florida State
4. NC State
5. Virginia
6. Maryland
7. Wake Forest
8. Georgia Tech
9. Duke
10. North Carolina
11. Clemson

This Week's Predictions:

NC State at Wake Forest: The Pack faces a formidable opponent in Winston-Salem -- a place that has not been too kind to NCSU in recent years. The Demon Deacons will keep it close, though the Pack just has too much talent. NC State 27, Wake Forest 21

Virginia at South Carolina: Over 80,000 fans will cheer the Gamecocks on, but the Cavaliers, much like NCSU, are just too talented to lose -- with or without QB Schaub. UVa 27, USC 14

Syracuse at North Carolina: Two programs from two major conferences that have been on the verge in the past of challenging for a league title battle it out in a game that only their fans care about. Syracuse 17, North Carolina 10

Auburn at Georgia Tech: Poor Chan. When the schedule came out, he probably had this one pencilled in as a close, moral victory. But alas, the Tigers had to go and get beat last week; now they're really mad. Auburn 40, Tech 17

Furman at Clemson: Tommy will get a win this week, but it won't be enough to erase the pain of last week's debacle against the Dawgs. Clemson 24, Furman 7

Western Carolina at Duke: The Blue Devils squeak one out against a solid Catamounts squad. Duke 21, WCU 20

Maryland at Florida State: This game looks good on paper, but ... FSU 35, Maryland 17

Also ... Virginia Tech 56, James Madison 13 Miami 24, Florida 17

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