Even if Clemson beats Alabama tonight, the ACC is in for a long and massive PR beating this season. And it almost goes without saying that if the Tigers lose to the Tide, the ACC is effectively DOA from week one. But I'm getting ahead of myself with that.
Virginia Tech's loss to East Carolina was something a lot of people saw coming (myself included but only when the Hokies decided to redshirt Tyrod Taylor last week), and Virginia getting smashed by USC (it's 21-0 Trojans approximately 9 seconds into the game) is not all that surprising. NC State's loss at South Carolina was generally expected as well, although the misleading 34-0 score doesn't help at all in terms of perception.
The problem is that the ACC couldn't throw anyone for a loop and do something unexpectedly right. And that points to disaster in the coming weeks. And by disaster I mean that East Carolina is probably going to go 3-0 vs. the ACC this year (they play @Virginia and @NC State in the next few weeks). Forget the expected beatdowns that are likely to come in September (Miami @ Florida, Cal @ Maryland, USF @ NC State); Big East-reject East Carolina will likely go 3-0 vs. the ACC this year. That will be the epitaph on the ACC 2008 tombstone unless some gigantic and/or plentiful upsets occur in the conference's favor.
Perhaps I'm jumping the gun a bit. College football is the most bipolar sport around, since things can change so quickly from week to week and since every single quarter of every single game matters. But over the last two years, ACC teams have typically surprised us only in negative ways and rarely offer the unexpected jolt or shocker on the positive side. And now we're at the point that not going 0-3 vs. East Carolina will be a welcome surprise. At least it only took me four hours into the first Saturday to realize that 2008 is shaping up to be a rinse-and-repeat of '06 & '07.