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Georgia Tech Football: Why “The Field” will win the ACC

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Clemson University vs Unviersity of Pittsburgh, 2018 ACC Championship Set Number: X162357 TK1

This little fun exercise is best paired coming off the heels of yesterday’s piece Why Clemson Will Win the ACC.


In my mind’s eye, there’s no one betting favorite capable of defeating Clemson when they make their now-annual road trip to Charlotte. You’re lying to yourself if you think otherwise. There’s this [Styx]-y part of college football where money correlates strongly to wins. When you’re lapping the rest of your “peers” in funding, you tend to do better than they do.

That being said, we’re going to try and paint a picture for how literally any of the other 13 teams might have something to say about stopping an unstoppable tide. Do you have to blow up the moon to stop Clemson? Who’s to say, but I bet Pitt has thought about it.

Bill Connelly, our patron saint, put out his annual If’s List. In it, he breaks down each team with how many If’s have to go right for them to have a legit shot at winning the College Football Playoffs.

I won’t steal his bit or reveal paywalled content, but there’s a common thread for the teams looking to overcome multiple “if’s”. It ties back to a lot of those great football coach-isms we know all too well these days:

  • “Establish the Run”
  • Win your 1 v 1 matchups at WR
  • Have a cornerstone unit on defense - (bonus points if “Not letting your opponent Establish the Run” is your terminology for this point)

You could argue any real threat to Clemson needs to do all of these things in order to keep the ACCCG to a one score game. The way it plays out in my mind has more to do with Clemson than it does with your choice of ACC Wheel of Destiny.

For the field to win the ACCCG, here’s what needs to happen:

  • you need the field to turn into the fescue at St. Andrew’s
  • sand traps and turf upheavals the likes of which we haven’t seen since that one poor kid tried to put together the endzone at the B1G Championship that time

Turf jokes aside, here’s what any other ACC team needs:

  • DJ Uiagalelei doesn’t turn in to Cam Newton lite
  • Etienne turns out to have been an irreplaceable component to that offense
  • For half of the Clemson team to become academically ineligible and half of the khaki pant Grad Assistant Army to decide that working for $12k/year (or whatever absymal rate they’re working for) isn’t worth it and that they need to be treated like a person for their 60+ hours per week they spent at the Water Slide facility

Look, I might have been reaching for that last one, but if we want any drama before the SEC Championship game comes on that first Saturday in December, we need some weird stuff to happen.

If I’m being asked to project who’s going to be the team to do it, I’m going to go with North Carolina, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. It’s more because I don’t trust anything with Manny Diaz’s name on it. D’Eriq King might be an awesome QB for Miami this year, but I won’t believe it until Diaz can prove he won’t blow a game.

This is the same team deep down that got beat by FIU at the Marlins Park. No really, it wasn’t a fever dream. That happened. The FIU kicker hit a PAT then throat slashed the spider cam hovering over him. He then transferred to Miami. Seriously, that happened. M?M?BP column first ballot hall of famer Jose Borregales can’t save the ‘Canes by himself. Especially now that he’s in the NFL.

Miami jokes aside, I think the secret weapon for a good UNC offense will be Tennessee transfer Ty Chandler. He was a force in a crowded backfield during his time on Rocky Top and I doubt they’ll end up missing Michael Carter and Javonte Williams too much. “But Stephen, that’s 2 NFL running backs missing out of the backfield, you’re crazy.” Like a fox dear readers. Look at this kid. If Phil Longo can get him dialed in, I’d be willing to bet he takes a lot of heat off Sam Howell this year to be the only star of that offense.


Unless the unlikely event occurs that I’m actually right, Clemson takes this ACC season in stride. Dabo gets another extension and $300M facilities upgrade thanks to our good friend Dan Radakovich, and we did all this work for nothing. Eat at Arby’s.

23 Days ‘Til Kickoff