Anything happen this offseason in the ACC? Judging where the ACC is at this point before we go into week one, which has one conference matchup (Miami/Maryland), two BCS v. BCS conference OOC games and a diet of cupcakes…
1)….Virginia Tech Hokies…………………11-3 (9-0 ACC)
What else can you say? The ACC title trophy case is quite full at Virginia Tech, and with recent developments in the Coastal, their path to Charlotte seems pretty clear right now. The issue out of camp is offensive line injuries for the Hokies, but they have the month of September to get healthy before conference play starts with Clemson coming to Blacksburg on October 1st.
2)….Florida State Seminoles………….10-4 (6-2 ACC)
Preseason ACC favorite – no pressure, Jimbo Fisher. Oh, and No. 1 Oklahoma comes to your stadium in week three – a win there, jolts expectations through the roof for the ‘Noles. Can FSU live up to the hype? Remains to be seen (but they’re my pick for the ACC crown for the second year in a row).
T-3)….North Carolina State Wolfpack/Maryland Terrapins………..9-4 (5-3 ACC)
Hard to separate the Wolfpack and Terrapins – one had a offseason coaching change (MD) – the other lost an All-ACC QB to Wisconsin (NCSU). Both lost a lot in the receiver corps and the pressure’s on the running game to improve. And O’Brien and Edsall’s squads are playing the role of the dark horse contender in the Atlantic at this point with everybody picking FSU. These teams both tasted nine wins last season – can they get back there (or better) this season?
5)….North Carolina Tar Heels…………8-5 (4-4 ACC)
Honestly, I don’t know what to think about UNC at this point. Obviously, they had the shake up at the top with Butch Davis’ firing, and that’ll have some effect on this season. How much? That’s the trick. This is a talented team that didn’t wilt under last year’s pressure with players out left and right – now, they have to overcome another obstacle.
6)….Clemson Tigers………………….6-7 (4-4 ACC)
You can see it in their eyes – Clemson’s coaches are excited about what their new offense, filled with talented freshmen coming in, will do in ACC play. New OC Chad Morris has installed about 75 percent of his fast-paced, ‘smashmouth’ spread offense with a green QB in Tajh Boyd running the show, but most importantly, Clemson has a healthy Andre Ellington to carry the football. This is a big season for Dabo Swinney to show the Tigers’ program is going in the right direction.
7)….Boston College Eagles………………7-6 (4-4 ACC)
Another team with a new offensive coordinator here with Kevin Rogers, and the early returns are positive from the BC faithful. Fall camp wasn’t kind to the RB corps though with Montel Harris needing knee surgery that’ll keep him out for some of the early games, and No. 2 back Andre Williams spraining his ankle. At least initially, the pressure will be on sophomore QB Chase Rettig to perform against an underrated Northwestern team and a not exactly easy road trip to UCF in week two.
8)….Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets…………..6-7 (5-3 ACC)
Looks like junior QB Tevin Washington will be running the show come Thursday against Western Carolina after a bit of competition. Limiting turnovers and improving the passing game will be keys for Georgia Tech to get back on the championship level.
9)….Miami Hurricanes………………………7-6 (5-3 ACC)
It’s been a nightmare two weeks for the Miami program since the Yahoo! story dropped on Nevin Shapiro’s alleged grandiose dealings with ‘Canes players for several years. With several players’ eligibility in question, any success this season is in question – it’s just a mess of situation for Al Golden in his first year on the job.
10)….Duke Blue Devils…………………………3-9 (1-7 ACC)
Duke got back to work early this season with a February start to spring practice – you can tell, they think this is the season they can get to that elusive bowl, but David Cutcliffe said at ACC media days he’s all about building the program for the future. Some folks are declaring this is the year of the bowl for the Blue Devils, but with their schedule, 5 wins would be a good season.
11)….Virginia Cavaliers…………………..4-8 (1-7 ACC)
Mike London, in a short time, has given Virginia fans reasons for optimism, and with a no. of starters back on offense and defense + a easy non-conference schedule sets the mark for this season a bowl for the first time since 2007. Finally beating the team just above them in the rankings here would be a big step towards that goal.
12)….Wake Forest Demon Deacons…3-9 (1-7 ACC)
The Deacs are one of five teams from the ACC to end 2010 with a win (Vandy), and have a team stacked with returning starters. Add to that, they’re about as under the radar as it comes – a definite candidate for surprising some teams this season. But a schedule with both divisional winners and Notre Dame coming to BB&T will keep Wake bowl-less again most likely.