CLEMSON, S.C. — This is a big week for Atlantic Coast Conference football.
The league that’s taken its share of shots has three undefeated top-10 team teams in the spotlight: No. 10 Miami (6-0) plays at North Carolina on national television Thursday night; No. 5 Florida State (5-0) is at No. 3 Clemson (6-0) in Saturday night’s prime-time matchup.
The ACC hasn’t had three programs ranked in the top-10 since October 2005. It’s also the third consecutive week four ACC teams are in the Top 25.
Other members fighting to get to the top believe they also can take advantage of the bright lights shining on the league.
“It’s not any good for anything if we don’t all take advantage of it,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “When the frying pan is hot, that’s when you fry ‘em up, right?”
There’s plenty of sizzle in the ACC right now – and lots of schools that want to get in on the action.
North Carolina coach Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels were expected to contend for the ACC’s Coastal Division, yet they have struggled at 1-4 with Miami rolling into town. Fedora said he’ll make sure his recruiting targets know what’s possible should they sign on.
“We’ve got so much to sell, all of that positive buzz around the ACC only adds to what we have to offer,” Fedora said.
The Florida State-Clemson contest is the ACC’s first top-five showdown since No. 5 Miami defeated No. 3 Virginia Tech 27-7 in 2005. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said that buzz has been a long time coming.
He said it’s forced ACC coaches and fans to develop ultra-thick skin to withstand the shots by supporters of other leagues.
“Well, this is what they’ve been wanting, isn’t it?” Swinney said of the critics. “They can’t talk bad about us now.”
Syracuse offensive coordinator George McDonald believes raising the ACC’s national profile will help everyone in the league.
“Just like the SEC ... people want to go where they’re going to play high-quality football, they’re going to be on TV, and they’re going to get national exposure,” McDonald said.
Recruiting could get even easier for ACC programs with all the attention, which Cutcliffe says everyone connected to the league should embrace.
“I think we’re hot right now, so we all need to take advantage of it,” he said. “Buy in. Let’s go.”