The ACC is the worst BCS conference by far, they haven't won a BCS Bowl since '99 when FSU won the National Title, the ACC has a few decent teams, but they have no national title contendors, and they should only have one BCS Bowl this year. Even last year when the ACC was essentially handed a BCS win against Kansas they couldn't come out with a win. Pathetic. Going into this year Clemson and Virginia Tech have to be the two favorite. Clemson over the past few years have regularly chocked away a few games, while Virginia Tech has been the only consistant team in the conference.
ACC Atlantic Division:
1. Clemson-If Clemson can't win the ACC this year, I really don't think they ever will. The Tigers return an experienced quarterback, 2 experienced running backs and a 1,000 yard reciever just on offense. They also return a very experienced defense. The Clemson Tigers defense should be pretty good as well, they return most of the players from a pretty good defense from a year ago so expect Clemson to not only have a good offense, but a good defense as well. Looking at their schedule their toughest games appear to be vs Alabama in Atlanta, @Wake Forest, @Virginia and @Florida State.
2. Florida State-No matter who the quarteback is for Florida State expect great improvement in Year 2 of Jimbo Fisher as the Offensive Coordinator. The 'Noles return a pretty good running back in Antone Smith and two experienced recievers in Greg Carr and Preston Parker. The key for FSU will be the quarterback play and we will see if Drew Weatherford can give the Seminoles from decent quarterback play. The Seminoles should improve defensively with many of their young players improving from last year. Losing Geno Hayes will hurt, but expect freshman Nigel Bradham to make an impact this year, along with a very good freshman recruiting class. FSU has a favorable schedule this year with Clemson, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Florida all coming to Tallahassee this year. The key is to try to escape the first 3 games where many of Florida State's key players will be suspended. During that time the only game that poses a threat is the Wake Forest game. Expect some improvement this year from FSU.
3. Wake Forest-Wake Forest should have a really good defense this year with 9 starters returning. If Wake Forest wants to make a run at the ACC Title they will need to be able to score a lot of non-offensive touchdowns because their offense shouldn't be as good as it has the past few years. The Deacons lose their most dangerous player in reciever Kenneth Moore who had 94 catches last season, how much he meant to the Wake Forest recieving offense? The 2nd leading reciever had under 200 yards recieving. The Deacons though return their leading rusher in Josh Adams from a year ago. They also return junior Riley Skinner, who last year was extremely inconsistant throwing for 12 touchdowns, but for 13 interceptions. Wake Forest doesn't have the type of favorable schedule that Florida State has, they have to travel to both Florida State and Miami(Fl) and they get Virginia and Clemson at home. Consider the Deacons a darkhorse in the ACC.
4. Boston College-What a magical season for BC last year, they were able to win 11 games, win the ACC Atlantic Division and then win their bowl game! Expect this season to be a lot tougher. The key for BC is obviously trying to find a replacement for Matt Ryan who had a terrific season last year. The other key for BC is trying to find a good running back with Boston College's top 2 running back's graduating, and it appears that early enroller Josh Haden has the best shot. The quarterback situation is a lot less clear with 4 guys competing, but it appears last year's backup Chris Crane has the edge going into the Spring Game. The defense should be good once again with many of the players from last year's team returning. Overall, the Eagles should obviously take a step back from last year, but they do return enough key players that they should go bowling once again, and it helps that Clemson and Virginia Tech are both coming to Chestnut Hill.
5. Maryland-The Maryland Terps last year were able to go to a bowl and play competive against a top 25 Oregon State team, The Terps return quarterback Chris Turner and top reciever Darius Heyword-Bay. The problem offensively for the Terrapins will be to find a running game. If Maryland can find a running game to replace the losses of Lattimore and Ball the Maryland offense should be very explosive next season. The defense's hopes could have been sealed when do everything linebacker Erin Henderson decided to leave Maryland. Henderson meant so much to Maryland last season, and they'll need guys to step up big time if they want to be able to overcome the loss of him. The defense was a bit above average last season, but I don't think it can improve much with Henderson in the NFL. Overall, Maryland should be a better team then last year, but the problem is they really don't have any breaks in their schedule. Cal a team that struggled at the end of last year is the top team in Maryland's schedule, the good thing is that Cal has to travel to College Park. In ACC Play the Terrapins have to play at Clemson, at Virginia and then Wake Forest at home in succesive weeks, and then travel to Virginia Tech, play Florida State at home and end the year on the road at BC. This schedule is not easy even for an ACC team.
6. NC State-Tom O'Brien improved the Wolfpack drastically in his first year as NC State's head coach last season. The Wolfpack should have a solid backfield with Toney Baker and Jamelle Eugene both returning. The real question for NC State though is who is going to be their starting quarterback? Do the Wolfpack go with returning starter Daniel Evans or do the possibly go with 5 star quarterback prospect Mike Glennon. This question certainly won't be answered in the spring and the Wolfpack will have to address this situation before their first game against South Carolina. The Wolfpack were pretty bad offensively and will need some drastic improvements. Defensively it doesn't look much better the Wolfpack gave up 28 points a game last year, and I really don't see anyways for this team to improve enough to make a run at a conference title, they only real way the could go to the Title Game is to buy tickets. Even though right now the future doesn't look great, the future does look bright for the Wolfpack, Tom O'Brien will be able to rebuild this program and within a few years the Wolfpack will be going to bowls again. The amazing thing is that even though their offense and defense both weren't great they were able to still win 5 games and 3 games in conference, which is a good sign. This year the Wolfpack start off with a tough road trip to South Carolina, the non-conference shedule doesn't get much easier with home games against East Carolina and South Florida. In conference play they got a lot of breaks and the only team that they have to play on the road that it's in the upper half of the conference in Clemson, if NC State can get through the tough early season schedule they could possibly get 6 wins.
ACC Coastal Division:
1. Virginia Tech-What a tough position Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech were put into last year when 32 students were killed at Virginia Tech last April. This was obviously tough for the Hokies as they got off to a bad start getting blown out by LSU on the road 48-7 before rallying to win the ACC Title and to go on to the Orange. Although they lost to a Kansas team that definantly shouldn't have been there, the football team made Virginia Tech proud. Offensively, Virginia Tech will take a step back next year with many of their top skilled position players graduating. The good thing for Virginia Tech is that they have two experienced quarterbacks in Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor and they should to be able to manage this offense and to make some plays when they are needed to. What we can expect from a Frank Beamer team is that they will have a good defense. The defense will be able to force turnovers, force a lot of 3 outs, score points, and to help their offense to get good field position. The team should be able to have a shot at an ACC Title, but they have some tough games. In non-conference play the Hokies play at East Carolina and at Nebraska. They also have a tough stretch in the middle of the ACC season when the travel to Florida State and BC.
2. Miami-This could look very dumb if the 'Canes struggle again this year. The Hurricanes return two experienced running backs in Graig Cooper and Javarris James return. The Hurricanes have a few guys fighting for the starting quarterback in Robert Marve, Jacory Harris and Cannon Smith. They return little experienced recievers, but they return Sam Shields who had a solid sophmore year last year. Defensively the Hurricanes bring in a lot of young talent in, led by linebackers Arthur Brown and Sean Spence. They also bring in big time prospects Marcus Forsten, Brandon Harris and Ramon Buchanon. The team has a tough non-conference schedule having to play on the road against Texas A&M and Florida, but they get a ton of breaks in the conference play with their road games being NC State, Duke, Georgia Tech and Virginia. They also avoid Clemson on the schedule. Overall, Miami could get out to a tough start, but I really feel that this young talent will have matured by conference play starts and with a favorable schedule they'll be able to finish in the upper part of the Coastal Division.
3. Virginia-Virginia got off to a terrible start last year starting off by getting dominated by Wyoming, but after that Virginia was able to rebound and go to a January 1st bowl and was able to win 9 games. From that team Virginia loses a lot on defense with the headline loss being top 5 pick Chris Long. They lose Jameel Sowell this year, who currently isn't in school because of academic issues, expect Peter Lethel to start at quarterback. They return running backs Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson, giving the Cavs a legit running game. The Cavs also lose their top 2 recievers so expect this to be somewhat of an rebuilding year for Virginia, but this team should be able to still go to a bowl game.
4. North Carolina-People all around College Football consider UNC to be a sleeping giant. Many believe that when UNC will be able to get a good coach, they will be able to challange for BCS Bowls. The Tar Heels will have a 3 man quarterback battle between TJ Yates, Mike Paulus and Cam Sexton, but expect TJ Yates to be the starter. On the outside he has Hakeem Nicks to continue to blossom into an excellent reciever. The running game situation will improve this year with the return of sophmore running backs Johnny White and Anthony Elzy. The defense should improve as well, but really watch out for Marvin Williams to have a breakout year, after he had a very good freshman year. The schedule will get easier this year with the road games being Miami, Duke, Maryland and Virginia, but they do have to travel to Rutgers in non-conference play. This UNC team is talented, but inexperienced, this team could possibly make a run at a bowl game.
5. Georgia Tech-Georgia Tech is going to be running a completely new system with Paul Johnson as coach. With Taylor Bennett transferring, the Ramblin' Wreck have two quarterbacks battling to be their starting quarterback and that is true freshman Josh Nesbitt and Auburn transfer Calvin Booker. Expect a lot of guys to have around 500 yards rushing next year, since that's what Paul Johnson wants. Expect John Dwyer though, to be the leading rusher next year. The Yellow Jackets lost James Johnson who decided not to play his senior year of football, leaviing little experience for Georgia Tech in their recievers, but it's not a huge deal with Georgia Tech expected to be running the ball 75-80% of the time. The defense will also be taking a different look next year with Jon Tenuta leaving, as Defensive Coordinator. Georgia Tech were known as a blitzing defense under Tenuta, and it'll be interesting what they watch under their new Defensive Coordinator. This year will be a down year for Georgia Tech, expect the bowl streak to end this year.
6. Duke-With David Cutcliffe on board as the new coach expect some improvement from the Duke Blue Devils. Let's start at the quarterback position where the Devils have a pretty good quarterback in Thaddeus Lewis, who last year threw for 21 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions, despite playing on a 1-10 football team. The running game was pretty bad last year, but expect improvement with lead rusher Re'quan Boyette returning for his senior year. Young's top target last year was Eron Riley, and he returns for his senior year after having a very solid junior year having 800 yards recieving. The defense was pretty good last year, but expect improvement. Duke should be better then last year, they will still not make a bowl game, but they should have a chance to get an ACC win and possibly to have 4 wins this year. This season really depends on the play of their defense.