Before I get into a little bit of an explanation, let me start off by saying that the ACC's non-conference performance these past two weeks - aside from Georgia Tech - has been an utter disgrace. Miami losing to Oklahoma is understandable. 51-13 is not. Virginia Tech losing to LSU is nothing to be ashamed of. But 48-7 sure as hell is. UCF beating NC State is unacceptable. Virginia getting drummed by Wyoming is inexcusable. On top of that, the conference was unable to pull off possible upsets with Wake (Nebraska) and UNC (East Carolina). The first two weeks have been a perfect storm of awful play and bad luck.
Conf. Record Pct. Big East 14-2 .880 Big 10 18-4 .820 SEC 14-3 .820 Pac 10 13-3 .810 Big XII 18-6 .750 ACC 9-7 .560
ON THE ROAD
To be fair to the ACC, it must be noted that six of the league's 16 non-conference games have been on the road. See the table below for full details:
That doesn't necessarily explain why the ACC has performed so poorly, but it does - in my opinion - clear up the reason for the huge gap between the other 5 power conferences and the ACC. The ACC has played more than double it's share of out of conference games on the road than either the Big 10 or SEC. Is the ACC still the worst of the power leagues? Yep. But not as much as the overall OOC record indicates.
Conference OOC Games/Road Games Pct. ACC 16/6 .380 Pac 10 16/6 .380 Big XII 24/8 .333 Big East 16/4 .250 Big 10 22/4 .180 SEC 17/3 .180
The ACC is also tied for the second-highest percentage of it's non-conference competition coming against power conference (BCS) schools. See below:
And each conference's record against other power-league competition:
Conference OOC Games/BCS Foes Pct. SEC 17/6 .353 ACC 16/5 .313 Big East 16/5 .313 Pac 10 16/5 .313 Big XII 24/7 .292 Big 10 22/5 .227
This explains fairly well why the ACC has done so poorly in non-conference play so far...they're playing a decent percentage of tougher competition and just not doing well against it. Brilliant insight, I know. Also, of the 5 games against power-conference foes, the ACC was the road team in three of them (and one of the "home" games was Duke).
Conf. Record Pct. Big East 3-2 .600 Big 10 3-2 .600 Pac 10 3-2 .600 Big XII 4-3 .571 SEC 3-3 .500 ACC 1-4 .200
THE 1-AA (OR "FCS" IF YOU WANT TO BE ALL TECHNICAL) FACTOR
The percentage of non-conference games against 1-AA competition...
Bravo to the Pac 10, and utter shame and contempt should be heaped on the Big 10. The Big 10 thus far has played more 1-AA teams than BCS conference teams.
Conference OOC Games/1-AA Foes Pct. Big 10 22/6 .272 Big East 16/4 .250 ACC 16/3 .188 SEC 17/3 .176 Big XII 22/3 .125 Pac 10 16/1 .006
Some things to keep in mind that can't really be quantified in the above tables...
--the ACC has faced-off against the #2 and #3 teams in the country, on the road (and were mercilessly beaten), along with losing a close one to the #14 team in the country...no other conference has come close to facing that scale of opposition yet
--the ACC has 4.5 new coaching staffs this fall...initial clunky outings have to be expected
--the ACC has Duke...that's an automatic four losses out of conference every year
The ACC still kinda sucks this year compared to other power leagues, but the gap is not as wide as many (including me) initially believed after this weekend's horror show. The Big 10 is probably the conference that the ACC could hang with the most, based on how horrid some that league's non-conference competition is. The ACC still has some major non-conference matchups this year, and unfortunately most of them seem like mismatches that do not tilt in our favor (Maryland vs. West Virginia/Rutgers, NC State vs. Louisville, Miami vs. Texas A&M, Florida State vs. Florida, Virginia vs. Anybody). An upset or two in these games could go a long, long way in restoring some much needed respect.