The ACC looks to be a much more talented conference in 2010. The Coastal Division could be the top division in the nation.
TCI breaks down the division winners as we are just days from kickoff.
1. Clemson – The Tigers are flying under the radar, but have the deepest team they have had since the early 90’s. They say defense wins championships. Clemson has a great defense and also their best offensive line in years. That combination will carry the Tigers back to the ACC Championship Game.
2. Boston College – The winner of the Halloween weekend contest between the Tigers and the Eagles will win the division.
3. Florida State – The Noles are back, well back to another third place finish in the ACC. The defense has to prove that it is better for the Noles to compete for the championship.
4. Wake Forest – No way to pick the Deacs below 4th simply because of their coach.
5. NC State – The Pack is better, but still finishes near the bottom of the division.
6. Maryland – The last year for the Fridge turns out bad for the Terps.
1. Virginia Tech – One of the top teams in the country, not just the ACC.
2. Georgia Tech – The offense gets even better in year 3.
3. North Carolina – Assuming the Academic Gate doesn’t bring them down their defense is too strong to finish below third in the Coastal.
4. Miami – Once again the Canes show they are not what they were in the past.
5. Virginia – Still a bad team, the Cavs beat out Duke.
6. Duke – They continue to improve, but are in the toughest division in football.
1. Florida State – Christian Ponder has got a lot of weapons returning, and you have to believe that a defense with so much talent on it will not let up an average of 30 points a game like they did last year.
2. Clemson – I like how no one is really talking about Clemson, hopefully we can sneak under the radar and have a break out year again. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can have the same season, especially because we relied so much on C.J. Spiller home run type plays last year to win some of our biggest games.
3. Boston College– Probably the easiest ACC schedule, their out of conference games are against Duke, Virginia and home against Virginia Tech.
4. NC State- I am scared of QB Russell Wilson (33TD 11INTs last year), he is a guy that could have a break out year and be a nightmare for teams that take him and the Wolfpack lightly. They have a very tough schedule.
5. Wake Forest – losing QB Riley Skinner along with their top rusher and receiver from last year is going to be hard to overcome.
6. Maryland– I don’t see them winning a game in the ACC unless they pull another big upset.
1. North Carolina – I think North Carolina’s defense is going to be unreal this year.
2. Georgia Tech – Every year when the predictions come out everyone snubs Georgia Tech because of all the big name teams in the conference. I would not be surprised at all if Georgia Tech once again wins the conference.
3. Miami – Miami is lucky enough to be playing some of their biggest games at home (Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech). I think Jacory Harris has become a little overrated, he is a great player but he had some of his worst games against top competition last year: Virginia Tech, Clemson and North Carolina.
4. Virginia Tech – Always one of those teams you can never count out. QB Tyrod Taylor and RB Ryan Williams are all returning so they should be a potent offense; I just don’t know how good they will be when they go up against a North Carolina or Miami’s defense.
5. Duke – They lost QB Thaddeus Lewis and they are going against five top 20 teams this year… it may be a long year for the Blue Devils.
6. Virginia – Another team that is bottom of the barrel that will have a tough time in the Costal Division.
North Carolina vs Florida State – winner North Carolina
I think that North Carolina’s defense will be too good this year. They don’t have the greatest offense but they will be similar to Alabama last year, ok offense and very stingy defense.
1) Clemson. Everyone here knows the story with Clemson this year. Outsiders(and even some “Clemson” guys) are questioning where the Tigers will look to take the offensive load that was once hauled by CJ Spiller and Jacoby Ford. Several of those folks, though, seem to have forgotten that there was another key piece to that offense, KP, and he didn’t go anywhere. Plug Andre Ellington and Jaime Harper into that backfield and we will see exactly where Clemson will look for its offense, those two combined with a heavy dose of tight end contribution. Add to that what promises to be an outstanding defense, and the Tigers will make it back to the ACC Championship this season.
2) Boston College. This pick is going to surprise a few, and honestly it kinda surprises me too. I just can’t doubt those boys up there at BC. The talent is there, the defense is there, and with just a decent year out of QB David Shinskie and the expected stellar year from RB Montel Harris the Eagles will be a force in the Atlantic division.
3) Florida State. “FSU is BACK baby!” Uh, wait, I am not buying into that, not just yet. I don’t care that they have a “new” coaching staff after running of the Legend himself, and I don’t care that the talent to win has been there all along. Very few coaches can come in, take over, and win right away and Jimbo Fisher isn’t gonna do it this year. All the offense in the conference wouldn’t help the Seminoles get to the championship game until they prove they can play defense again down there. Mark Stoops will get much improved results combined to last years 108th national defensive ranking, but not enough to turn the tide in just one season.
4) Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are in interesting team to predict this season. Obviously the loss of Riley Skinner is going to hurt, but head coach Jim Grobe has a strong armed sophomore ready to step into his shoes, Ted Stachitas. With the only other questions on offense being on the line, I expect Wake to make a little noise this season. Everyone knows that Grobe is an in the trenches kind of guy, so I have to believe those offensive line questions will be answered sooner than later, and this team will play with all the heart of any Grobe coached team.
5) NC State. This is the year for a couple of coaches in the ACC to earn their keep or take a walk, and the head man at NC State is one of them. Tom O’Brien better hope that his defense will fair better than their 99th ranking last season because without improvement there, it won’t matter how many touchdowns Russell Wilson can run or pass for. Even if the defense if improved drastically, I still don’t see better than a 6-6 finish this season.
6) Maryland. Here is another one of those teams with a coach that has something to prove, Ralph Friedgen. Can he prove this year that he is back, or will he continue to slide down the hill along with his team’s offensive production? Hard to say, but my money is on that the Terrapins will have another awful year, and it should start off that way when they face Navy in the season opener.
1) Virginia Tech. The Hokies are just one of those teams. One of those teams that stand out among some of the perceived toughest teams in college football. That reputation comes with reasons, and this season will be no different. After having a defense that had to keep the offense in the games the past few seasons, the roles will be reversed a little this year. Look for the offense to be the key for Tech this season starting under center with Tyrod Taylor, and for the defense to be a little down, but not down enough to keep coach Frank Beamer’s team from making it to the ACC Championship game.
2) Georgia Tech. When, oh when, will everyone stop doubting coach Paul Johnson’s offense? I believe the answer is never, or at least not until he wins a national championship. In other words, never. This team will continue to make statements in the ACC though, and I don’t think many defenses have caught up to his offense just yet. Think back to what the Yellow Jackets have done since PJ’s arrival, and then think about the fact that they did most of that with very subpar defensive play. Now think about this, former Virginia head coach Al Groh is the new defensive coordinator for the Jackets, and that will pay dividends immediately.
3) Miami. So we’ve heard it every year since the Hurricanes joined the league, “we are going to be the Miami of old this year”. Problem is, they have yet to do it. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has done his part for Randy Shannon’s team, but the defense has yet to get that Miami “swagger” back. This year they will be much closer though, and Miami will be a force to be reckoned with again this season, only this time on both sides of the ball.
4) North Carolina. How fast they fall. The season hasn’t even started yet, and already the Tarheels are sliding way down on my list of teams to worry about in the ACC. About eight weeks ago, I might have been a little more likely to start buying in, at least a little, to all the hype surrounding this years Tarheel team, especially defensively. But my oh my that has changed. No matter what happens with the NCAA or any possible suspensions, this investigation will harm this team greatly, and it’s a shame for North Carolina fans too, because this for sure was going to be the best year since head coach Butch Davis’ arrival. The question that needs to be answered now is how long will Butch Davis last if the walls start to come down?
5) Duke. Probably one of the best coaches to interview in college football, coach David Cutcliffe just gets “it”. He understands what it takes to build a program, and cares about doing so in the right way. Problem is, he still lacks the talent to compete week in and week out in the ACC, but they will be improved once again, and might even stand a chance at a bowl bid this year by the time the season is finished.
6)Virginia. Don’t look for much to change at Virginia, despite a new coaching staff led by Mike London. The problem for the Cavaliers wasn’t really about game day coaching, and was much more about recruiting, or lack there-of. That is the one thing that a new coach can’t change quick enough, the talent level that exists when he arrives. Virginia will improve under London, eventually, but don’t look for much improvement in season one, at least not in the win/loss column.