If we’re honest, the ACC certainly had its moment in the sun in the 2013 season. Winston won the Heisman, the Walter Camp and Florida State’s third national championship. Quietly, Aaron Donald had one of the most successful seasons a defensive player can have winning about every defensive award possible. Andre Williams broke more tackles than one can count on his way to a Doak Walker award. Clemson won the Orange Bowl against an Urban Meyer Ohio State, Duke had a surprisingly upbeat season on the football field and overall the conference had 42 players drafted in 2014, seven players shy of the most drafted conference in the draft.
Two years later, not so much. It seems as though the ACC has entered the hangover phase of their recent successes. Where 2013 offered a speakeasy prohibition age of titles, championships, draft picks and money, the depression of mediocrity now looms over a conference that entered the season with now-laughably high expectations.
How could you blame them? In May, following the departure of Jamies Winston, Everett Golson shocked the world by announcing his transfer to a seemingly lacking quarterback situation in Florida State. It seemed that the Seminoles wouldn’t miss a step from the on-field brilliance of the Winston era and garnered a top 10 preseason ranking with an outside shot of returning to the college football playoff.
Clemson boasted DeShaun Watson, their future Heisman hopeful and starting quarterback who looked to deliver a conference title and playoff opportunity to Death Valley.
Virginia Tech touted a defensive front seven that looked scarier than anyone in college football and most notably, an opening game against the number-one-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. A long shot, but a chance for Frank Beamer to win arguably the biggest game in his legendary career in Blacksburg.
Bobby Petrino entered his second season as the head coach of Louisville and set to bring back the Cardinals to national prominence with a litany of top recruits and transfers.
Georgia Tech, before the season started, had arguably the best chance in the conference to not only win the ACC, but by using their option attack lead by the lethal Justin Thomas, to take them to the playoff.
So much promise and now it looks as if none of these teams could challenge for the playoff, let alone the title. Despite strong play from running back Dalvin Cook, Florida State looks like an offensive conundrum, with no clear answer. Golson has looked more like a question than an answer to what the Seminoles were looking for under center. In Death Valley, it’s safe to say that Deshaun Watson has entered the dreaded “sophomore slump,” with no signs of jumping out. Virginia Tech, which does have a defense that could still carry them to a successful season, will most likely not turn the heads of the playoff committee. Bobby Petrino’s Louisville has lost four of his last five games and has proven to have no answer at quarterback and finally, the one saving grace for the conference, Georgia Tech, just lost to a backup quarterback in South Bend.
It’s crumbling on the Atlantic Coast. Sure, Florida State and Clemson are still undefeated, Miami looks challenging following a big win against Nebraska last week and Georgia Tech could still run the table if they can win out, win the conference and upset Georgia to end the season. Despite the wishful thinking, there seems to be too much against the conference to allow any team of theirs to jump into the playoff conversation, especially with the SEC, Big 12 and Big 10 boasting one or two teams with a chance to go undefeated.
Yes, this is college football, by mid-November, this article could prove to be a ridiculous claim, but as for now it seems the ACC has entered into a college football drought.