Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Last season, Virginia Tech dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference but lost in the Orange Bowl to Stanford, 40-12, making the conference 1-8 in the Orange Bowl since the BCS era began in 1998.

This season, the ACC will try to right its recent slump in the BCS games as the conference is undergoing big changes. North Carolina and Miami have new coaches while North Carolina State and Virginia Tech will break in new starters at quarterback.

After Florida State, Miami, and Virginia Tech, the ACC will be a bit unpredictable in the middle of the conference but it will be fun to see how things turn out.

1) FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES: Year 1 of the post-Bobby Bowden era went well with Florida St. winning the Atlantic. However, sights are larger this year as the Seminoles look to win their first ACC title since 2005.

Junior EJ Manuel will take over the reins at quarterback, while junior defensive end Brandon Jenkins will look to repeat his 13.5 sack performance of last year.

With a home game against Oklahoma possibly being the toughest game and the Miami game also being at home, the Seminoles have a high chance of repeating as Atlantic Division champs. PREDICTION: 11-1, 8-0 ACC.

2) CLEMSON TIGERS: Losing Da’Quan Bowers may hurt, but senior Brandon Thompson will try to fill his shoes on the defensive line. The senior defensive tackle played well last year with Bowers and will need to step up his game without him.

Sophomore Tajh Boyd will assume the role as starting quarterback for the Tigers this season, but he has help in sophomore receiver DeAndre Hopkins and junior running back Andre Ellington.

With the unpredictability in the middle of this conference, Clemson’s youth could push this team to a good year. PREDICTION: 8-4, 6-2 ACC.

3) NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLFPACK: NC State received a huge blow this offseason as quarterback Russell Wilson decided to transfer to Wisconsin.

Junior Mike Glennon—brother of former Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon—will be called on to replace Wilson. The younger Glennon has thrown only 52 collegiate passes, but Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien has high praises for him.

On defense, junior safety Earl Wolff is hoping to have another season like the 95-tackle season he had last year.

With some growing pains along the way, not having Coastal Division heavyweight Miami or Virginia Tech can help NC State to have a good season. PREDICTION: 8-4, 5-3 ACC.

4) BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES: Last season, Boston College finished 7-6 and in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, and I think the same will happen this year.

Senior running back Montel Harris and junior linebacker Luke Kuechly are two key players who will return to Boston College after a rollercoaster year.

Harris is eyeing both the school’s and the ACC’s rushing records, while Kuechly will be looking to lead an Eagles’ defense that allowed just 19.5 points per game last year—good for 19th in the nation. PREDICTION: 7-5, 4-4 ACC.

5) MARYLAND TERRAPINS: Last season, Maryland finished the year 9-4 and improved its win total by seven games, giving longtime coach Ralph Friedgen the ACC Coach of the Year award. However, the university decided to part ways with him after 10 years and name former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall as his replacement.

Senior safety Kenny Tate returns after recording 100 total tackles and three interceptions in 2010. Sophomore Danny O’Brien will look to follow up a freshman campaign that saw him throw for 2438 yards and 22 touchdowns, but he will not have leading receiver Torrey Smith, who declared for the NFL Draft.

The team starts with Miami at home, but could win its next four before the second half of the season. PREDICTION: 6-6, 3-5 ACC.

6) WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS: This could be a really tough season for Wake Forest. Last season, Wake Forest gave up 35.8 points per game, including giving up more than 45 points in four separate occasions.

On offense, the Demon Deacons have to contend with inexperience at the skill positions. Senior safety Cyhl Quarles might be the team’s best player, but it might be a double-digit loss season for Wake this year. PREDICTION: 1-11, 0-8 ACC.

1) MIAMI HURRICANES: The Golden era—as in new head coach Al Golden—has officially begun in Miami, as the Hurricanes will look to play in its first ever ACC title game since joining the conference in 2004.

In order to do that, Miami must put behind the shaky quarterback play that plagued them last year. Senior Jacory Harris and sophomore Stephen Morris will continue to compete for the job, but they must improve from the 27 interceptions Miami threw as a team last year. PREDICTION: 11-1, 7-1 ACC.

2) VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES: After a 0-2 start—that included a loss to FCS member James Madison—Virginia Tech rolled all the way to the Orange Bowl, but got crushed by Stanford.

This season, the Hokies will have a soft schedule as they replace quarterback Tyrod Taylor with Logan Thomas.

The defense is capable to pick up the slack, as juniors Jayron Hosley and Bruce Taylor are the big playmakers. Hosley picked off nine passes last season and Taylor had 15 ½ tackles for a loss.

A showdown with Miami on Oct. 8 looms for the Coastal title, but if the Hokies can overcome their youth, the division is theirs. PREDICTION: 11-1, 7-1 ACC.

3) GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS: Georgia Tech comes into this season not only having to vacate its 2009 ACC title, but having to replace its quarterback and leading running back from its run-heavy, triple option offense.

Juniors Tevin Washington and Orwin Smith each ran for over 500 yards last year and will both be called on to be the leaders on the offensive side of the ball.

If their defense can improve, they could make a run at the Coastal Division title, but expect the same record as last year. PREDICTION: 6-6, 3-5 ACC.

4) NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS: On July 27, North Carolina fired Butch Davis and replaced him with defensive coordinator Everett Withers. Withers inherits a team that has senior defensive lineman Quinton Coples leading the defensive end following a 10 sack season.

However, the Tar Heels will need to replace their leading passer and rusher. Luckily, senior receiver Dwight Jones returns following a 62-catch season for 946 yards last year, but things could be shaky with the worst yet to come. PREDICTION: 6-6, 3-5 ACC.

5) DUKE BLUE DEVILS: After a 5-7 campaign in 2009, Duke regressed to 3-9 last year in Coach David Cutcliffe’s third year with the program. This year’s team might have the same disappointment thanks to a so-so defense that had trouble stopping the run last year—giving up 208.2 yards per game.

The offense will be the key as junior quarterback Sean Renfree has a pair of good receivers in Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner to throw the ball to. The Blue Devils will get off to a nice start, but unless they pull off an upset, they will be home for the holidays again. PREDICTION: 4-8, 1-7 ACC.

6) VIRGINIA CAVALIERS: Although Virginia went 4-8 last season, the team was able to stun then-No.22 Miami in Mike London’s first year as head coach.

The Cavaliers may have the same record this year, but there could be some improvement on the defensive end. Senior cornerback Chase Minnifield intercepted six passes last year and will lead a defense that is a year experienced.

If the offense can jell together with a new quarterback and starting running back, Virginia could surprise and become bowl eligible. PREDICTION: 4-8, 1-7 ACC.

FLORIDA STATE vs. MIAMI: This could be the year that the two Florida rivals square off for the ACC crown.

Florida State has the firepower to overtake an average Atlantic Division, while Miami is just a steady quarterback away from edging out Virginia Tech in the Coastal.

With that said, I see the Seminoles walking away with the ACC crown and taking two in the process from Miami. WINNER: FLORIDA STATE.


  1. Um....

    So much for that Miami prediction.

    I just have a feeling their off-season drama will be too much for the program to overcome, at least in the short term.

    Hey, man. Interested in exchanging blogrolls?

  2. Yeah, that prediction has fallen by the wayside.

    I actually thought they had a chance to do that well, and then a week later those allegations came into play. Who knows what may happen but maybe they'll get 8-9 based on this game.

    Anyways, I'm interested in exchanging the blogrolls, and I followed you right back on Twitter.