45 days until the ACC: SEC owns the ACC, recently and historically
Every year since 1958, the trio of Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson have battled against their SEC in-state rivals (Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, respectively). And it has been a mixed bag of results. While Clemson has for the most part owned South Carolina (65-41-4), these past four seasons notwithstanding, FSU (21-34-2) and GT (39-63-5) have not had such success against their SEC counterparts.
And it's not just those three. The ACC as a whole has only had less success against the Big Ten (38% winning percentage) and the Pac-12 (43%) than the SEC (45%). But if you talk to any ACC fan down South, all that matters is how you're doing against the Southeastern Conference. This past season was not pretty. The ACC matched up against the SEC 8 times in 2012 - the ACC won twice. Clemson beat both Auburn and LSU last season. The previous season, the ACC was 2-5. In fact, the last time the ACC had a winning record against their Southern rivals was in 2003, when the league went 5-4. And that, among other reasons, is why the ACC is considered the weakest of the Power 5.
Of course, it also doesn't help that the SEC is in the midst of their stranglehold on the national championship. That definitely gets under the skin of FSU and Clemson fans, seeing that not only are their arch-rivals not only beat them on the field, but the gap between them grows larger and larger. At least in their eyes.
Personally, I don't agree with that line of thinking. Look at Louisville, who dominated the Gators not long after Florida beat Florida State in Tallahassee. Sure, Teddy Bridgewater is a lock to be drafted in the top five next year, but a star quarterback needs others around him to get to that level. Florida's defense, which came into the Sugar Bowl as one of the best in the nation, couldn't do much against a supposed weaker foe in the Cardinals. Talent gets you only so far, as we saw repeatedly with Pitt under Dave Wannstedt. Coaching can make up for talent deficiencies, and maybe Florida State and Clemson could get a bit more from Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney.
But back to the original point. If the Noles and the Tigers want the gap between the conferences to shrink, they have a chance to play a part as well. Instead of whining about how much the ACC sucks, maybe they should do things like not lose to NC State (FSU) or not completely choke when everybody expects you to (Clemson). Sure, the rest of the ACC can do their part by winning some of those big non-conference games or BCS bowls. But Florida State and Clemson fans often complain about the mediocrity of the ACC being a prime reason why an undefeated conference champion may never reach the College Football Playoff. The rest of the ACC isn't the reason Clemson embarrassed themselves against West Virginia.
The ACC has many opportunities to get themselves moving. Games against not just Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, but also Alabama, Notre Dame, Penn State, BYU, Oregon, and USC. The conference, FSU and Clemson included, has got to start winning some of these games if they want to gain more respect nationally.