The ACC: When does basketball season start?

At least the top of the ACC had a decent start to the season.

Clemson had a statement victory, beating Auburn at the Georgia Dome. Florida State and North Carolina romped against their FCS opponents.

[Thrash-for-cash not such a bad thing for a financially strapped Savannah State]

But the bottom half of the conference had a discouraging weekend, which continues a worrisome trend for the ACC that began last January.

The ACC posted a 2-6 record in bowl games last season, and nobody has forgotten Clemson's 70-33 loss in the Orange Bowl to West Virginia. The conference apparently didn't get much better in the offseason.

The start of the college football season is a time when even middling teams in supposed power conferences roll over their opponents. Instead, Week 1 was downright embarrassing for the ACC.

Maryland edged out FCS opponent William & Mary by a razor-thin score of 7-6. It wasn't a fluke either -- the Tribe outgained Maryland on the ground and the Terrapins had five turnovers. William & Mary led 6-0 in the fourth quarter.

Usually upbeat to a fault, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said after the game, "It wasn't pretty, but it's a win."

True, but that won't help the ACC's Q score very much.

Then Virginia Tech managed to barely get past Georgia Tech in an overtime win on national television. The Hokies came into the game ranked No. 16 in the AP poll but looked sloppy in their 20-17 home win over a Yellow Jackets program with very average expectations this year.

And then there's this: Help isn't exactly on its way.

Last season, the Big East was raided by the ACC, which snagged Pittsburgh and Syracuse. They'll be gone in 2013. Then again, judging from their Week 1 performances, Big East football might be better off without them.

The Orange committed 12 penalties in a 42-41 loss at home to plebeian Big Ten program Northwestern. That was a pretty good performance compared to Pitt, which lost 31-17 to FCS program Youngstown State at home. Pitt never even led in that game. Youngstown State hadn't beaten a team from the FBS in a dozen years.

From the early returns, it looks like last season's dismal postseason mark was just a sign of things to come for the ACC.

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