Saturday, August 23, 2008

College Football Projections: ACC

Since expansion in 2004, the ACC has been a disappointment in football. The league has yet to match its bellcows, Florida State and Miami, in the championship game. The conference has not earned an at-large bid to a BCS bowl. And, the conference has not earned a win in a BCS bowl since expansion. This year has the potential to be different.

Once upon a time, Clemson was the sole football power in the ACC. The Tigers won a national championship in 1981, and dominated the conference before Florida State joined in 1992. Since then, Clemson has not won a conference championship. That could change this season. The Tigers look to have their best team in Tommy Bowden’s nine years at the school. They look to be favored in every game in their schedule, including a road trip to Florida State.

Speaking of Papa Bowden and Florida State, the Seminoles have slipped in recent years. FSU stands to improve on recent years, though, and has a chance to make a BCS bowl. If some things go their way, they could even pass Clemson for the championship of the Atlantic division.

Maryland, Wake Forest, and Boston College will all be pretty good, but not nearly on Clemson’s level. BC is in a rebuilding year after losing QB Matt Ryan to the Atlanta Falcons. North Carolina State looks to have a long season and will finish last in the Atlantic division.

In the Coastal division, Virginia Tech rules the roost. No pun intended, as the Hokies’ other nickname is Gobblers. The Fighting Frank Beamers have a couple of interesting road trips, to Nebraska and Florida State. VT should be good enough to win this division again.

The Hokies will be followed by the Butch Davis teams: his former school at Miami, and his current North Carolina Tar Heels. Georgia Tech will achieve their same usual result: middle of the pack. Duke will make large strides under new coach David Cutcliffe, and win as many as five games, which is more than the Blue Devils have won in the last four years. Virginia will be rebuilding after losing a load from a team that won 8 games last year, many by narrow margins. The Cavaliers will not be as fortunate this year.

Projected Finish:
Clemson 12-0, 8-0
Florida State 10-2, 7-1
Maryland 7-5, 4-4
Wake Forest 7-5, 3-5
Boston College 6-6, 2-6
NC State 3-9, 2-6
Virginia Tech 11-1, 7-1
Miami 8-4, 5-3
North Carolina 7-5, 5-3
Georgia Tech 6-6, 3-5
Duke 5-7, 2-6
Virginia 2-10, 1-7

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