Talking Points: ACC season closes with Duke vs. FSU
Posted December 6, 2013
Updated December 7, 2013
1. Locally, Duke has easily been the story of the year. The Blue Devils broke free of the typical malaise associated with Triangle football and earned their way to the ACC Championship game by being the better team in crucial moments.
The national perception is a little different. Duke's success is an indictment on the Coastal Division. While head coach David Cutcliffe is getting the attention he deserves, likely winning a few more coach of the year honors before the year is out, Duke appears to be a mild inconvenience in the way of Florida State's trip the BCS Championship. The Seminoles are heavily favored against the Blue Devils in Charlotte and calling for the upset just sounds like a punchline. Las Vegas installed a 29 point spread that hasn't budged leading up to the game.
None of this matters to the Blue Devils. While everyone has been waiting for this Duke team to regress back to the program's historical mean, they've put together a totally rad 80's sports montage of fourth quarter dominance set to the sounds of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."
Can Duke beat Florida State? Of course they can. Caulton Tudor would like to remind everyone the NC State basketball team did something special back in 1983. Will they? Probably not.
This is not 2006, where Wake Forest knocked out a pretty good Georgia Tech squad in the championship game. These Seminoles are on another level, scorching their opponents by an average of 42.7 points this season. Florida State is second in the nation in points-per-game and first in scoring defense.
The key for Duke is to hang around and not let the Seminoles hang a bunch of points in the first half, where FSU averaged just over 30 points in the regular season. The Blue Devils have been able to run the ball this season, which would allow them to work the clock and play keep away from quarterback Jameis Winston. However, it's going to be incredibly difficult to establish anything on the ground when Florida State is bigger and better at the line of scrimmage.
2. Jordan Rogers argued that Duke beating Florida State in the conference championship game would have positive long-term benefits for the ACC. With all due respect, he's lost his mind.
At best, a victory by the Blue Devils would give the ACC one short term benefit. It would create a scenario where the conference gets two BCS bowl bids, which is currently a shaky proposition after Clemson lost to South Carolina. The Orange Bowl is obligated to take Duke as the ACC champ and Florida State would likely land in the Sugar Bowl.
After commissioner John Swofford cashes the checks and turns on his favorite sports talk radio or fires up his super secret ninja Twitter account, he'll get a taste of the national ridicule being directed at his conference.
Go ACC, indeed.
The conference needs Florida State to be "back." It would behoove the ACC to have its traditional powers do what traditional powers are supposed to do, which is compete at the highest levels for championships.
Why is this important? Because folks aren't very bright and fail to understand nuance in sports.
Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Miami are the blunt instruments necessary to build the ACC's reputation in football.
3. Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com dropped a hot sports take so scalding that I needed to seek medical attention after reading it. The national columnist asked what has Florida State done to be placed so clearly ahead of Ohio State or Auburn?
On the surface, Doyel's concerns specifically in comparison to Ohio State are valid. It's not like Florida State played a better schedule. It could be argued the Seminoles' slate against Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, Idaho and Florida was worse than what the Buckeyes played through. He also makes the point Ohio State's best win of the season trumps that of Florida State's.
Fair enough, but I'm astonished that Doyel completely misses the obvious answer to his own question. Florida State passed the eyeball test destroying everyone. Are you not entertained, Gregg?
As for the comparison with Auburn, I just can't get with it. While I understand the Iron Bowl was one for the ages, it's disappointing to see so many pundits still caught up in the moment
Perhaps the foregone conclusion of the BCS Championship match-up has created void in compelling things to discuss. Fans of chaos and the SEC can chirp all they want about strength of schedules and best wins, but Florida State and Ohio State will meet up in the Rose Bowl if they take care of business this weekend. While criteria may change under the College Football Playoff committee, the current setup rewards heritage programs from BCS conferences that go undefeated.