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ACC's Opening Weekend Not Too Exciting
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #499, August 26, 2011

Virginia Tech decided to avoid the Alabamas, Boise States and LSUs to begin the 2011 season. Instead they'll face 1-AA foe Appalachian State. Though it is a step down in competition level, the Mountaineers are arguably the best 1-AA football program in the country.

Appalachian State has achieved great success under head coach Jerry Moore. He led his team to three consecutive National Championships in 2005-2007, and three more trips to the playoffs since then.

Appalachian State Since 2005
Year Record Result
2005 12-3 National Champs
2006 14-1 National Champs
2007 13-2 National Champs
2008 11-3 Quarterfinals
2009 11-3 Semifinals
2010 10-3 Quarterfinals

That's a 71-15 record over a six year span. Six of those 15 losses came to 1-A opponents, and only two of the nine 1-AA losses came to unranked teams. In other words, you've got to out-talent Appalachian State to beat them, because they are a very well-coached team.

The Mountaineers have had their share of talent as well. Armanti Edwards was a four-year starter at quarterback from 2006 through 2009, leading Appalachian State to two National Championships. He was a third round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers as a wide receiver. He is one of eight former ASU players in the NFL, which is a good number for a 1-AA program.

However, most people don't know the name Appalachian State because of their National Championships. The Mountaineers are remembered for their dramatic 34-32 victory over #5 Michigan in the opening week of the 2007 season.

Despite that victory over Michigan, the Mountaineers are 0-6 in their other six games since 2005 against 1-A teams. They were outscored by an average of three touchdowns per game in those six contests.

Playing a 1-AA team in the opening week of the season is common for many schools, including ACC programs. Five other ACC schools will face a 1-AA team next weekend. Georgia Tech will kick things off with Western Carolina on Thursday night. On Saturday, James Madison will play at UNC, Liberty faces NC State, William & Mary will try to upset Virginia again, and Richmond will take on Duke.

Other ACC games in the opening weekend include Wake Forest at Syracuse, Northwestern at Boston College, Troy at Clemson, Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State and Miami at Maryland.

Some of the opening week games will be televised, including Virginia Tech's.

Opening Week TV Schedule
Date Game Time TV
Sept. 3 Northwestern at BC Noon ESPNU
Sept. 3 Appalachian State at VT 12:30 ACC Network
Sept. 3 JMU at UNC 3:30 RSN
Sept. 3 ULM at FSU 3:30 ESPNU
Sept. 5 Miami at Maryland 8:00 ESPN

The BC-Northwestern game will likely be entertaining, but the game to watch is on Monday night when Maryland hosts Miami. How many Miami players will be suspended for that game? We don't know at this point, though eight have been declared ineligible. Miami hopes that some of them will be reinstated by the NCAA before that Maryland game.

This will be a huge game for Miami. If they lose to Maryland, they probably can't afford to lose to another ACC team all year. 6-2 probably won't be enough to win the Coastal Division for the Canes. After their road trip to Maryland, Miami still must run the gauntlet in the ACC: games at Virginia Tech, Florida State and UNC. That's a very difficult road schedule, so Miami doesn't need a loss in the opening weekend.


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