Chasing the Devil: Aggies' Sumlin poses first real test to Saban

And to think the ACC is supposed to be the fifth wheel.

This week's "Chasing the Devil" list -- a weekly look at the 10 coaches best positioned to unseat Nick Saban -- has as many representatives from the ACC as the mighty SEC (three apiece).

Yes, I know, Slim Shady, we have the same confused look you do.

After the media pounded the narrative that the ACC can't beat the SEC in big games, it's only right to accentuate the ACC when it shifts that narrative with Miami, Virginia Tech and Clemson Tigers going 2-1 head-to-head vs. the mighty Slives ( Florida Gators , Alabama Crimson Tide , and Georgia Bulldogs ).

Miami's Al Golden, whose devilish ways debut on the list this week, got a major assist from the Gators, who coughed up five turnovers in Sun Life Stadium.

That doesn't mean the Hurricanes didn't impress. Quarterback Stephen Morris is erratic but has major upside, and the defense, once considered a weak spot, showed up big.

The folks at "Chasing the Devil" have no idea if this will last. Dabo or Jimbo or Al could drop curious games to North Carolina State or Maryland and all is normal.

But it's a better story if that's not the case.

Notre Dame's Brian Kelly drops off the list after the Irish's loss to Michigan, while Florida's Will Muschamp barely hangs on because the Gators still can win the SEC. They'll have to win it with defense and the ground game, it appears.

The spotlight is fixed on Texas Longhorns A&M's Kevin Sumlin, who has a chance to knock off the devil himself.

Chasing the Devil
Rank Coach Devil Rating Comment

Urban Meyer, Ohio State Buckeyes -- The Buckeyes better do the Miyagi trick on the knee of Braxton Miller , who is questionable after an awkward fall last week. Backup Kenny Guiton looked adept in reserve, but the key for Ohio State will be a still-unproven defense slowing Cal's no-huddle offense in Berkeley. I get the sense Meyer isn't crazy about the way the season has gone so far and needs to find another gear.

Mark Helfrich, Oregon Ducks -- Virginia is not horrible. Oregon proceeded to make Virginia look horrible last week. A 59-10 walloping in Helfrich's national television debut keeps him fresh at No. 2 and ready to pounce if Ohio State falters. Touchdowns are great, but Helfrich better get that kicker some work to brace for when things get tighter later in the year (Hi, Stanford Cardinal ).

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M -- The autographs are signed, the cupcakes are digested and it's time for Bama-A&M. This game would have to reach masterpiece levels to match the hype. Sumlin's offense will be ready. Will a young defense be ready for A.J. McCarron and an offensive line that had two weeks to make adjustments after a disappointing opener? Sumlin has been protective of Johnny Manziel , but it's time to unleash him.

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State Seminoles -- The Jameis Winston haze will subside a bit this week, which means Fisher can focus on the Noles patching together a complete season. Fisher knows FSU doesn't always put teams away in the second halves, and he aims to fix that. FSU's roster is stocked with talent. Do they have a dominant pass rusher to replace Bjoern Werner? They need to find out.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson -- Swinney seems to be savoring the ACC's non-conference performances, reportedly throwing up the U in his press conference last week in light of Miami's win over Florida. To Swinney, "Clemsoning" might as well be how the Tigers fans mow their lawns. He doesn't seem concerned with past Tigers lapses. Playing at North Carolina State this week will be a good reminder of that.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State -- Now this is a devilish move -- Clint Chelf looked like the starter all offseason, then Gundy sneaks in J.W. Walsh with some option football and the Cowboys are off and smokin'. This could be a rough off-field week in Stillwater with a looming Sports Illustrated report about past improprieties in the OSU program, but on the field, the Cowboys appear better positioned to win the Big 12 than anyone else.

Mark Richt, Georgia -- Professor Richt jumps two spots after his running back flustered South Carolina to the point of sideline fighting among coaches. Gotta say, the Devil board is feeling pretty good about picking Todd Gurley as the preseason SEC offensive player of the year. Knock off LSU Tigers in three weeks, and Georgia fans will forget all about that loss at Clemson.

Les Miles, LSU -- It seems quarterback Zach Mettenberger has surprised a few people with his solid play early, but not his teammates. They knew he had a solid offseason and has a big arm. His next test is responding if protection falls apart and he has to deliver in a chaotic pocket. With Auburn and Georgia in the next three weeks, the Hatter will have plenty of chances to move up or down this list.

Al Golden, Miami -- Still need to see more from the Canes to call them true contenders, but Golden has this program rising. The room for growth is there. They probably won't face a defense of Florida's caliber the rest of the year. Duke Johnson won't be bottled up for more than one game. The defense is emerging. Golden remains unmoved -- his mindset and his hair -- from the NCAA cloud.

Will Muschamp, Florida -- Jeff Driskel wasn't all bad Saturday -- but when he was bad, he was blindingly bad. So maybe Florida goes back to last year's formula of controlling the game with D and the running game and more option football for Driskel. The defense is athletic and versatile. The bigger problem against Miami was 2.8 yards per rush. Florida's not built to win without a steady dose on the ground.

David Shaw, Stanford -- This is a makeup, because it was silly to take Shaw off last week's list. Stanford is stout all over the field, and Shaw is creating an identity for Stanford that he says has nothing to do with emulating the SEC. He wants Stanford to stand alone. Stanford has Arizona State, Washington and UCLA in the next six weeks. Should be fun.

Next devils up: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame; Bob Stoops, Oklahoma; Steve Spurrier, South Carolina; Charlie Strong, Louisville; Jim Mora, UCLA.

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