ACC taking aim at respect, SEC reign

How fitting that our first top-5 matchup of the college football season involves a pair of ACC teams.

For the record, it's the first top-5 matchup in the ACC since 2005.

Save the hoops jokes, and in the spirit of full transparency, I've been as guilty as anyone when it comes to dismissing the ACC as a football league only until basketball practice starts in October.

Even now, I'm leery about branding the ACC as a football juggernaut across the board.

But I'm 100-percent sold on Clemson and Florida State being the real deal, and their showdown on Saturday in Death Valley will be the first of several to come in the next few weeks that will shape this season's national championship race.

"Games like this, we relish it. We love it," Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said. "We live in these moments, because that's what we wanted."

The ACC would also like, once and for all, a little respect. Here's a chance to go get it, especially after dragging around that "Little Brother" label to the SEC for as long as it has.

You don't think the SEC looks down its collective noses at the ACC?

I think back to some of the responses we got from SEC players this summer, albeit anonymously, when we asked them what immediately came to mind when they thought about other conferences.

When the ACC was broached, we got everything from "SEC Lite," to a "step down from the SEC," to "soft."

Historically, it might be hard to squabble with such perceptions, but I can't make that leap in the here and now, particularly with regard to the top of the ACC.

Just like the SEC, the ACC has three teams in the top 10 of this week's Associated Press poll -- No. 3 Clemson, No. 5 Florida State and No. 10 Miami. The ACC is the only league with two teams in the top 5.

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