Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Is Maryland the team to beat?

Florida State's game at Miami this week isn't what it used to be, but that just makes the race to the ACC championship game more interesting for everyone else.

Like, say, Duke and Georgia Tech, who will suddenly be playing a game of consequence for the Coastal Division on Saturday. Surprise: The rapidly improving Blue Devils (3-1, 1-0 ACC) are second behind Virginia Tech (4-1, 2-0). Surprise: Maryland (4-1, 1-0) is leading the Atlantic Division and just beat Clemson (3-2, 1-1) in Death Valley.

Entering the midpoint of the schedule, one thing is clear in the ACC -- nothing is clear, and that's exactly what Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski told his team on Sunday.
"I don't believe there's just one team in the league that is just head and shoulders above the rest," he said. "Anybody's got a chance."

Here's why:

• The abundance of youth on so many rosters, most notably Florida State and Miami.
• The fact that half the league has coaches in the midst of their first or second seasons.
• The fact that nine of the 12 teams have either had to use their backup quarterbacks or chosen to because of inexperience.

The two preseason picks to play for the ACC title -- Clemson and Virginia Tech -- have failed to separate themselves, but the Hokies have been hanging on with their running game and defense. North Carolina and Maryland get the inconsistency awards in their respective divisions, but the Terps deserve credit for beating two ranked teams in their past three games.

Did Maryland replace Clemson as the team to beat?

"It's probably too early to even make that statement," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We've got to get a lot better to be that team, but certainly I don't know if there's anybody else in that situation. I think there's a lot of teams that can win on any given night. ... It's going to be a heck of a race. I think Duke is getting better and better and they're going to be a factor, too. I don't know if anybody doesn't have a shot at it right now."

PHOTOS: Maryland fans celebrate with the players as they leave the field after defeating No. 20 Clemson 20-17 Saturday Sept. 27, 2008, at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Boston College's Razzie Smith, bottom, falls to the field as teammate Bryan Murphy, second from left, blocks Rhode Island's Victor Adesanya, left, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008, in Boston. Boston College won 42-0. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) tries to break away from Nebraska's Phillip Dillard in the second quarter of their game, in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver)

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