For a brief moment on Saturday night, the college football world respected the ACC.
One of football’s most ridiculed conferences finally earned a place on the national stage when the country turned its attention to the touted matchup between Florida State and Clemson in primetime.
Most analysts expected it to be a high-scoring battle between the ACC’s two premier programs to see which teams’ national championship dreams would be crushed.
Instead, it rapidly developed into an embarrassing home blowout for the Tigers, as the Seminoles dominated them in nearly every aspect of the game.
The match did turn out to be high scoring, except Florida State put almost all of the points on the board, winning 51-14.
While it may have been cathartic for Hokie fans to watch the Tigers lose so spectacularly in a big game, considering the ill will most Tech fans bear Clemson after the 2011 season, the blowout was actually damaging to the both the Hokies and the conference as a whole.
It certainly helps the ACC that the Seminoles ended up ranked so highly in the new BCS standings — Florida State is ranked third in the AP Top 25, but the BCS puts them at second in the nation.
But the conference would’ve benefited significantly more if it appeared as if there was SEC-style parity in the league.
Few people will be willing to take lower-ranked ACC teams like Virginia Tech seriously if they think the Seminoles are the only team in the conference with talent.
Even if Clemson had lost, but had put up a fight while doing so, observers would have more respect for the Tigers and the whole conference.
Instead, they’re quickly being written off as just another ACC pretender that doesn’t deserve top tier consideration. Clemson had the good fortune of only falling to ninth in the BCS and AP standings with the loss, but that was more a factor of the upheaval occurring in the rest of college football than the voters’ opinion of the Tigers.
Now, Dabo Swinney’s bunch faces an uphill climb for the rest of the season, and if they lose their season-ending game to South Carolina, there’s no way anyone will give Clemson credit for its early season success.