It’s almost sad to see the ACC the way it has been lately. As much as many harp on the Big East (now American) not belonging in the BCS, the same could have been said most years for the ACC. Miami hasn’t been Miami for years, Florida State hasn’t been Florida State for the better part of a decade-and-a-half, and Virginia Tech and Clemson have started to get tired from carrying this conference on their shoulders. At some point, the conversation has to change…they need people to say that this is more than a basketball conference.
- Clemson Tigers (8-0 ACC, 11-1 overall). Lately, the ACC conversation has mostly centred on Clemson and how good they have been compared to the rest of the teams in the conference. At some point they have to erase the memory of what West Virginia did to them a couple seasons ago. Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins look to put the Tigers over the top this season and they should be able to do just that.
- Florida State Seminoles (7-1 ACC, 10-2 overall). Jimbo, Jimbo, Jimbo. Bobby Bowden’s rather large coaching shadow looms over him and until he breaks through with a truly amazing season (no, beating Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl doesn’t count as amazing…no matter how much Jordan Lynch will tell you it was). As good as they should be this year, they will still lose to Clemson and keep Jimbo and his Seminoles from breaking through.
- NC State Wolfpack (4-4 ACC, 8-4 overall). Dave Doeren worked his MAC-tion Magic last year with the (undeserving of a BCS bid) Northern Illinois Huskies. Unfortunately for him, NC State are in a division with Clemson and Florida State and their ceiling in this division (for the near future) is third.
- Syracuse Orange (4-4 ACC, 6-6 overall). The moving truck has made its new destination. All the furniture is unpacked. The Orange have made their new home in the ACC and are just trying to figure things out. I see them starting fairly quickly and making it to a bowl this year (barely) in their first year in their new digs.
- Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-6 ACC, 3-9 overall). I hate to say this but is it time to pull the plug on the Jim Grobe era? Other than one magical year where the Demon Deacons put it all together and rolled to an ACC title, they’ve been largely irrelevant in the ACC for the better part of a decade. It should be another finish near the bottom again.
- Maryland Terrapins (2-6 ACC, 4-8 overall). I can just imagine they will get quite the nice reception in every ACC venue they head to this year. Their last year before leaving for the Big Ten won’t be a rosy one. And if they think it will be any better in the Big Ten they are sorely mistaken. Poor Terps. Oh, and I am pretty sure Randy Edsall will be shown the door after another sorry season in College Park.
- Boston College Eagles (1-7 ACC, 4-8 overall). Is it sad that I am having trouble remembering when Boston College was any good at football? I count two separate eras…the Doug Flutie era (pre-Flutie Flakes and CFL fame) and the Matt Ryan era (pre-Matty ice and playoff disappointment). Other than that? Nothing. How sad.
- Virginia Tech Hokies (7-1 ACC, 10-2 overall). Beamer Ball is back. After a one-year break from being really good, 102-year-old (approximately) Frank Beamer is back to making the Hokies a contender in the ACC. It almost seemed like it was ACC-Bizarro World last year with the Hokies having to scrape to get into a bowl and barely beating a Rutgers team playing extremely poor. This year they go back to the top.
- North Carolina Tar Heels (6-2 Big Ten, 9-3 overall). The Tar Heels are not just a basketball school anymore (unlike their friends down the road). North Carolina is consistently near the top of the ACC. As much as many people hate on Butch Davis, he started this and now Larry Fedora is picking up where he left off (read: resigned). I still wish Fedora would wear a big ass fedora (in Tar Heel colours) on the sidelines. Just once.
- Miami Hurricanes (5-3 ACC, 9-3 overall). Now that the U can actually qualify for a bowl game and have a shot at an ACC championship, it should be a fun year in south Florida. Not so fast though. The Canes have some stiff competition in their own division. Plus, they have no home field advantage whatsoever playing at Dolphins Stadium. So no division title for you (meaning them).
- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-3 ACC, 7-5 overall). Ah, the option. Don’t get me wrong, I expect that type of offense from the service academies. But it just seems wrong when I see it in ACC play. Paul Johnson is a great coach and deserves a lot of credit for turning Navy around and making Tech competitive in the conference. But the lack of a true passing attack, I believe, gets exposed in this conference and keeps the Rambling Wreck from ascending to the next level.
- Pittsburgh Panthers (3-5 ACC, 5-7 overall). Unlike their former Big East brethren from New York state, Pitt won’t be as competitive this season in the ACC. It’s not like they will be terrible but definitely not bowl-eligible (much to Mark May’s chagrin).
- Virginia Cavaliers (1-7 ACC, 2-10 overall). It’s unfortunate but this season may be Mike London’s last for the Wahoos. Other than his first season with the Cavs, it’s been a bit of a disappointment during his tenure. But at least they won’t be last in the division this year. That spot belongs to….
- Duke Blue Devils (1-7 ACC, 3-9 overall). Was it a smokescreen last season? Did the Blue Devils actually make it to the postseason? Feels like a dream, it really does. This season will be the jolt of unfortunately horrible reality to the Duke football program as they head back to the bottom of the division, once again.
It will be Clemson once again as the class of the ACC. They never seem to be far from the top these days and this season they will once again be BCS bound. It should be an interesting season for the newcomers Pitt and Syracuse, plus an awkward season for Maryland. Replacing Maryland with Louisville will make this conference stronger and definitely closer to the four best conferences in college football. Returns to glory for FSU or Miami won’t hurt this conference’s image either.
The countdown begins for the start of the college football season…..almost two and a half weeks left.