Clemson’s week 1 victory over Georgia was a statement win for the program. As I said in a previous post (linked here), it marked the culmination of Dabo Swinney’s work to transform Clemson from annual pretender to serious contender. In week 2, that win over UGA was validated as UGA defended their home turf to beat South Carolina. Also in week 2, another ACC team knocked off an SEC power, this time it was Miami over Florida. The win has ACC fans thumping their chest… sometimes a bit too much as I saw here:
“MIAMI AND CLEMSON ARE MAKING A CASE THAT THE ACC IS BETTER THAN THE SEC!” – via Facebook
I am absolutely, positively, without a doubt not going to make the case that the ACC is the best conference in the country. Such an argument forgets the entire SEC West which has the three best teams in that conference (Bama, TAMU, LSU), however I will say, and I word this carefully,outside of the SEC, no football conference that can legitimately claim superiority to the ACC.
Here’s how I came to that conclusion. I have in the left column of the tables below, the ACC teams listed in what we’ll call the Week 2 ACC Power Rankings. To the right, I have the opposing conference listed in a similar fashion. I then compare each team in a match play style format with the better team highlighted. If neither team is demonstratively better, I simply didn’t highlight one. Obviously, this isn’t an exact science, but it’s a fun and easy way to illustrate the ACC’s parity or superiority with the other conferences after the SEC. Below, is a tweet that encapsulated the perception which I intend to tear down.
@ryan_kantor Doesn’t the ACC have a terrible reputation for football.
Note: Where the ACC had more teams than the opposing conference, I excluded the middle teams in the ACC. Excluding the bottom teams would have given the ACC an advantage, based purely on size. I used Beyond the Bets to help rank the Pac-12 and Big 12 as well as recent results like Texas getting manhandled by BYU. As the season progresses, these rankings will be become outdated. Obviously this methodology is not a scientific approach, but merely a heuristic aimed at illustrated not superiority, but defeating the notion that these conferences can claim to be better than the Atlantic Coast Conference.
First up, the ACC tops or at minimum matches the Big 10…
Next, the Pac-12 does a little better, but still doesn’t prove to be demonstratively stronger than the ACC…
Finally, the Big 12 puts up a fight, but loses the most important battles at the top of the conference, even where I’m conservative by not giving Miami the nod over TCU (which I think will bear out by the end of the season) or GT the nod over Mack Brown’s failing Texas squad.
None of this is to say that the ACC is an outstanding football conference, merely it is to say that with the emergence of Clemson and FSU as conference powers–as they should have been for the last decade–and Miami slowly coming around, no conference other than the SEC can make a legitimate claim at superiority.
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