Sunday, August 1, 2010


Last year was a wacky one in the Atlantic Coast Conference as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets won its first outright conference title since 1990, when they shared the national title with Colorado. However, Georgia Tech lost in the Orange Bowl, marking the ACC's fourth Orange Bowl loss in five years. This season, expect the Coastal Division to be the superior of the two divisions with Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech all fighting for the right to go to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. The Atlantic Division will continue to be tough to predict as Clemson will lose C.J. Spiller, Florida State is beginning the Jimbo Fisher regime, and Boston College will gain Mark Herzilich back from his bout with cancer.

Conference Rank: 5th out of 11

1. Florida State Seminoles (9-3, 7-1)
-Out goes Bobby Bowden, but in comes Jimbo Fisher. Fisher was great as an offensive coordinator for LSU and Florida St., but can he do it as a head coach? Christian Ponder returns from an injury and he has good offensive line help. Beating Miami will be tough for the 'Noles this year but I think Florida State has just enough to win the Atlantic for the first time since 2005.

2. Boston College Eagles (10-2, 6-2)
-Getting Herzilich back will help out greatly and QB Dave Shinskie will be looking to improve on a shaky freshman year. BC's schedule is easy with the annual games between Virginia Tech and Florida State being the only two real hiccups.

3. Clemson Tigers (7-5, 4-4)
-Losing C.J. Spiller may not be the only problem the Tigers will endure. The Tigers play against three of the more difficult teams in the Coastal including its permanent opponent Georgia Tech. Trips to Florida State and Boston College won't help either.

4. North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-8, 2-6)
-Russell Wilson might be the best QB in this conference you have never really heard of. He threw 31 touchdown passes in 2009, and most of his offensive weapons will return. Bad news is, there's no running game, the offensive line is shaky, and Nate Irving returns from missing 2009 but the defensive is still average at best. Did I mention that they play Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina?

5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-9, 2-6)
-Wake Forest will surely lose Riley Skinner, their four-year starting QB who led them to the school's first ever outright football ACC Championship in 2006. Coach Jim Grobe's teams play tough and close as they lost five games by a combined 13 points, but unless they can find a signal caller to help out the defense, expect a few more close losses.

6. Maryland Terrapins (3-9, 1-7)
-Ralph Fridgen has lost his luster from the beginning of his tenure at Maryland after Maryland reached 10 losses for the first time ever in 2009. Without an experienced QB, look for RB Da'Rel Scott to carry the team on offense and Alex Wujciak to lead on defense. This team will be better but unless they can get some luck and win the close games, they won't go far.

1. Virginia Tech Hokies (10-2, 7-1)
-Since coming into the ACC in 2004, Virginia Tech is the only team in the conference to have a 10-win season every year. This year will be no different as the Hokies are poised for not only the ACC title, but the national title. The first test will come on Sept. 6 against a game Boise State squad, who will most certainly be pumped.

2. Miami Hurricanes (9-3, 7-1)
-Is "The U" back? Miami's 9-4 record was impressive, but it was the four tough games to start the season that turned heads. Despite getting rocked by Virginia Tech, the Canes narrowly beat Florida State and Oklahoma, while stopping Georgia Tech's triple option along the way. This season will begin just as tough as after the Florida A&M game, they have to travel to Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Clemson, however Jacory Harris will be more prepared this year.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (9-3, 6-2)
-Will an explosive defense be enough to carry a pop gun offense? The Heels return nine of their defensive starters that allowed 222 points in 2009. The problem is that they only scored 309 points, behind the inconsistent play of T.J. Yates. North Carolina has the talent to win the Coastal, but with the NCAA looming with possible sanctions, it could be tough.

4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-3, 5-3)
-Paul Johnson's triple option worked well at Navy and in the first two years at Georgia Tech, it has not hit a snag. Losing Jonathan Dwyer does hurt, but Josh Nesbitt, Roddy Jones, and Anthony Allen return. The questions is though, can they beat Virginia Tech and North Carolina on the road along with Miami at home?

5. Duke Blue Devils (4-8, 2-6)
-Going 9-15 overall and 4-12 in the ACC over two years would get you fired at a big-time powerhouse, but at Duke, it's a cause for a celebration. David Cutcliffe is showing why he was a good head coach with Ole Miss, but he knows that the job is not done. Gone is QB Thaddeus Lewis, but if his replacement Sean Renfree can get the ball to WR Donovan Varner, Duke could reach the magical 6-6 record for a bowl.

6. Virginia Cavaliers (3-9, 0-8)
-If there's a team that could overtake Duke in the cellar, then it's Virginia. The Cavaliers will have an inconsistent quarterback in Marc Verica, with limited help on offense. The defense will have to adjust to the 4-3 implemented by new head coach Mike London. The only thing that helps the Wahoos will be FCS opponents Virginia Military Institute and Richmond, along with Eastern Michigan, who went 0-12 in 2009.

Virginia Tech d. Florida State

Boston College
Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech- Orange
Miami- Chick-fil-A
Florida State- Champs Sports
Boston College- Sun
North Carolina- Meineke Car Care
Georgia Tech- Music City
Clemson- Independence
At-Large- EagleBank

Christian Ponder (QB from Florida State)
-There's a lot a quarterbacks (Tyrod Taylor and Jacory Harris), a running back (Ryan Williams), a defense (North Carolina), and even a player coming back from cancer (Mark Herzilich) who deserve to be on this list. However, Ponder trumps them all, looking at what could've been in 2009. Before injuring his shoulder, Ponder was on pace for 3000 yards and 20 touchdowns. If he can keep his accuracy up, Jimbo Fisher will have a great first year with the 'Noles.

1. ACC Championship Game (Dec. 4 in Charlotte)
2. Virginia Tech v. Boise State (Sept. 6 in Landover, Md.)
3. Virginia Tech @ Miami (Nov. 20)
4. Miami @ Ohio State (Sept. 11)
5. Boston College @ Florida State (Oct. 16)

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