ACC Report: This weekend offers conference a chance to earn bragging rights over SEC

The ACC has a chance to get the last word (in the regular season, anyway) on the SEC with this weekend’s slate of rivalry games.

Call it a very good chance.

Florida hosts Florida State, South Carolina hosts Clemson and Georgia Tech hosts Georgia on the final weekend of college football’s regular season, the second installment of non-conference backyard brawling between brothers.

Though no line was available Monday evening due to Florida’s multitude of injuries, Florida State will be an overwhelming favorite heading into The Swamp. Georgia, which last week lost quarterback Aaron Murray to a torn ACL, is only a three-point favorite at Georgia Tech. No. 6 Clemson is a five-point underdog at No. 10 South Carolina, but anything can happen when those teams meet.

The ACC hasn’t gone 3-0 in those games since 2000 and hasn’t had a winning record against the SEC since 2003, when it was 5-4. This year could be different.

Currently, each conference has two head-to-head wins, but the ACC’s wins were more unexpected. Alabama, ranked No. 1 from wire to wire, trounced Virginia Tech and No. 6 South Carolina topped North Carolina to open the season. Both ACC teams were unranked.

Miami’s win over then-No. 12 Florida was a big step for Al Golden’s Hurricanes, but it wasn’t nearly as loud as eighth-ranked Clemson’s defeat of fifth-ranked Georgia. Still, Miami’s win fired up Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who crowed, “How about that ACC?” and flashed the Hurricanes’ familiar ‘U’ sign after that day’s news conference.

ACC pride was at an all-time high at that point. Fast forward to this week, when a couple struggling SEC teams could give rise to another round of chirping from the other conference.

Nowhere is the situation more dire than at Florida (4-7), which lost last week at home to Georgia Southern. That was the program’s first loss to an FCS team and also guaranteed the Gators’ first losing season since 1979. Now comes Florida State, which has scored at least 41 points in every game this season and should dominate its in-state rival.

Georgia is reeling after losing Murray, who started every game since arriving in 2010, and faces a Georgia Tech squad that has won four of five and two weeks ago made it tough for Clemson in a 55-31 loss in Death Valley.

Then there’s the Tigers, who face the Gamecocks in the first top-10 matchup in a series that dates to 1896. That will be the toughest game for the ACC to win, and must-see TV to boot.

Of course, the real last word will likely come in January, with a potential Alabama-Florida State national title matchup. If the Tide secures its third straight BCS title — the eighth in a row for the SEC — then the ACC can do little but try again next year.