Notre Dame can’t arrive fast enough … Why Clemson should run up the score … Is the Nov. 24th showdown for the Sugar Bowl? …. and McFearless Friday Picks

NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – There has been split opinion regarding the agreement the ACC reached with Notre Dame, the one where Notre Dame gets access to the ACC’s bowl lineup and plays five ACC teams a year yet retains its independence.

Some feel the ACC gave Notre Dame something akin to a blank check.

I defended the ACC’s decision and it is a decision that is looking better with Notre Dame’s performance this season.

The simple fact is the ACC needs quality games and quality games require quality teams. The Florida State, Clemsons, Miamis and Virginia Techs also need to strengthen their schedules in the future. Consider Clemson’s second best win according to computers this year is the Ball State win. Really. If Notre Dame is on its way back to sustained relevance this will be provide a strength of schedule boost to the league even without adding the Irish as a full-time member.

Then there is the simple matter that the ACC needs Notre Dame to improve television ratings. There has simply not been must-see television in the conference this year outside of the Clemson-Florida State game. Notre Dame will bring eyeballs to flatscreens.

At the end of the day, with few great football schools on the board in the conference expansion game, this was a creative solution.

And who knows, maybe Notre Dame will one day be compelled to join a conference and the ACC figures to be frontrunner to land the Irish thanks to its increased Northeast footprint and Florida recruiting ties.

SPEAKING OF THE ACC’S FLORIDA FOOTPRINT ….

Of course what will help the ACC more than anything is Florida State and Miami playing up to their potential. History suggests both teams will at some point return to being consistent top 10 performers.

This could be just around the corner.

Florida State might already be arriving there and Miami’s team is loaded with freshmen and sophomores and is the driver’s seat to win the Coastal and play Florida State in the ACC title game.

This is the title game matchup the league thought it would be getting more often than not when it added Miami in 2004. Well it might finally be here and it could be a preview of things to come. (Or course the NCAA rulings could set Miami back)

With Clemson ascending and Notre Dame being a de facto part of the conference, I do think the ACC’s days as a laughing stock are numbered.

CLEMSON SHOULD RUN UP SCORES THIS NOVEMBER

We saw Clemson leave Tajh Boyd in at quarterback deep into the second half in their rout at Wake Forest so he could set a school passing record.

Clemson should continue to leave starters in late into the second half the rest of the season even if holding comfortable leads.

Why?

Clemson’s schedule is not going to impress many voters, and while points margin is not part of the computers, margin of victory does influence human voters to a degree.

Why does this matter? Because Clemson is in play for the Sugar Bowl, according to analysts….

USC-CLEMSON WINNER GOES TO SUGAR BOWL?

The Sporting News and Phil Steele each projected a Clemson-Georgia Sugar Bowl this week. ESPN BCS guru Brad Edwards picked South Carolina to play in the Sugar Bowl. Could the rivalry meeting Nov. 24 be for a Sugar Bowl berth? Have the two rivals ever played for such stakes?

Clemson has never played in back-to-back BCS, major bowl games.

A Sugar Bowl appearance, and win, for Clemson would really set the stage for a potentially special 2013 season.

McFEARLESS FRIDAY PICKS

TCU at WEST VIRGINIA (-5). West Virginia has struggled lately but I still think they have an athlete advantage here.

OREGON (-8) at SOUTHERN CAL I think Southern Cal can pull an upset here. The Trojans are one of the few teams in the Pac-12 that can athletically match Oregon.

OKLAHOMA STATE at KANSAS STATE (-8.5) Oklahoma State remembers losing to Iowa State last yaer and gets to be Iowa State this year. OSU has the No. 1 offense in the country.

ALABAMA (-8) at LSU: Alabama has outscored SEC competition 5 to 1. Alabama is the most talented and most balanced team in the country.  They’re so good they’ll rout LSU and prove there is a clear No. 1 team in the country. The question is who is No. 2?

PITTSBURGH at NOTRE DAME (-17): Future ACC game, well, sort of.

CLEMSON (-13) at DUKE: Clemson has too much firepower and Duke is really beat up with seven players unlikely to play and two defensive starters out.

FOR THE RECORD …

CLEMSON PICKS

Clemson picks, straight up, career: 35-13
Clemson picks this season: 7-1
Clemson picks, vs. spread, career: 21-25-1
This year vs. spread: 4-3

OVERALL PICKS

Last week vs. spread 3-4

Season vs. spread 21-26-2

Career vs. spread 113-104-6

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