The ol' roundtable hasn't been quite as consistent as last year, but we're still rolling. The hosts this week are, again, the Georgia Technicians at From the Rumble Seat.
1. Half the regular season is now kaput. Has your team exceeded, met, or fell short of your preseason predictions?
Exceeded, easily. Given the teams on the schedule, Maryland should have been 4-1 right now, but they should've been a lot better than 2-10 last year, too. In a weird way, Maryland exceeded expectations by not falling short of them, if that makes any sense. At the beginning of the year, I was guessing that Maryland would lose two of the Navy, FIU, and Duke games. They won all three.
2. The ACC finished the first half of the season 23-14 in out of conference play. If we took out the I-AA games, that'd be a lowly 12-13 record. If we took out the non-BCS squads, that'd be a 3-10 record against BCS opponents. If we further removed the Big East, we'd have ZERO wins in out of conference play and 9 losses against the SEC, Big 10, Pac 10, and Big 12... There are nine more out of conference games for the ACC including 6 games against BCS opponents. Is there any hope for rehabilitating the ACC's tarnished image?
This year? Maybe an outside shot. If Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson win their in-state rivalry games against Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, the ACC's rep will get a sizable late-season boost. The first is likely; the second is possible; the third is very unlikely. If all three come through, it'll be a pretty nice week, if nothing else.
Unfortunately, all of those games come at the end of the year, and a lot of attitudes will already be entrenched thanks to that horrible early-season performance. Sadly, Wake's game against Vandy and Miami's game against USF won't mean much.
3. The Atlantic and Coastal divisions are knotted up at 5 wins a piece in interdivision play. Which division is better top to bottom?
I want to say Coastal. I'm used to it. But it's Atlantic, pretty easily. Miami, UNC, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech might've been the four best ACC teams at the start of the season. But the first three fell apart (and GT was always fourth at best), and Duke and Virginia are both awful again.
The Atlantic, meantime, has the conference's best team (Florida State), potential second-best team (N.C. State), and a sleeping giant (Clemson). Maryland was the worst team in the conference a few weeks ago, but will probably make a bowl this year. Wake Forest might be the worst team in the division, but lost to GT by just four and beat Duke. BC's looking pretty rough this year, but they'll still beat Duke.
4. Who is the ACC's first half of the season offensive MVP? Defensive MVP? Any comeback player of the year nominees or predictions for ACC Rookie of the Year?
The offensive MVP has to go to Russell Wilson. Who thought N.C. State even had a shot in the ACC this year? He's been fantastic, coming in at 2nd in the nation in passing yards and 3rd in TDs. Tyrod Taylor might actually be a little better, but the award goes to the guy with the better record, and that's Wilson.
Defensively, it's a battle between Da'Quan Bowers and Luke Kuechly. I'll go with Bowers, though, because I think tackles are an overrated stat. Bowers was supposed to be the next Gaines Adams, and it looks like he's finally turning into that. He's fourth in the country in sacks with 6 in just five games and has a ridiculous 11.5 TFL - good for third in the nation. He's a force, and I fear for my own team's fate against him on Saturday.
For comeback, it's gotta be Nate Irving, right? It's not the usual sucked-but-now-doesn't method, but Irving did miss all of last year and looks awesome now. And, finally, rookie: can Joe Vellano count? If not, I legitimately think Danny O'Brien will be in contention late in the season. Other than that, I guess Mustafa Greene and Tanner Price are the obvious nominees.
5. What games are still circled on the schedule as must win games for your fan base and program?
This is about it: Virginia. UVA's still the closest thing we have to a football rival, and they're awful this year. Lose this game, and only bad things happen. I can't think of a single other game that I'll view a loss in as a "bad loss."
6. Let's say your university invented a device capable of transporting one individual from your program's past. And then the machine would collapse into itself due to the sheer greatness of said individual. What one player from your long and storied history would you cherry pick to instantly upgrade your team?
First off, I'm drawing a line around 1980. Because even though some of the guys in the 50's, Maryland's Golden Era, were great compared to their surroundings, they'd be athletically outclassed today.
That said, it's a tough choice. It comes down to a choice between Boomer Esiason, E.J. Henderson, Lamont Jordan, and Vernon Davis. Ultimately, I'm taking Boomer: this team's greatest need is an established QB, and Boomer was a great one, for an understatement. Vernon at his peak is probably second, given Maryland's strengths at LB and RB. Am I forgetting anyone?
7. Now that you've seen ~29% of the scheduled ACC games, who will be in the 2010 ACC Championship Game?
Florida State and Virginia Tech. FSU is the best team in the conference, and VT has regrouped. I'm taking FSU.