Wednesday, August 27, 2008
ACC FOOTBALL PREVIEW
The ACC hasn't been too impressive these past few years. Virginia Tech has remained a powerhouse, but teams like Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Miami have all fallen off just a bit. It's not the monster conference some expected it to be after Miami, VT, and BC joined. The ACC was a pathetic 2-6 in Bowl games last year.
1. Virginia Tech
The Hokies have won 2 ACC titles since joining the conference in 2004. They have a pretty light schedule, although a non-conference road game to Nebraska is never easy. They don't have to play Clemson or Wake Forest, the other top teams in the conference. So they should cruise to the ACC title game, where they will win. They lost a lot of talent defensively, and on the ground in Branden Ore. But VT has always been good at capitalizing on mistakes, which will be abundant in the ACC in '08.
Many people have picked Clemson to win the ACC, something they haven't done since 1991. They open their season in style with a game against Alabama in the neutral Georgia Dome. RBs James Davis and CJ Spiller combined for 2,100+ total yards last year, and Cullen Harper threw for 2,991 yards, 27 TDs, and only 6 INTs. They return 8 starters on defense. Their major weakness is a young and untested offensive line, which may lead to their undoing against opportunistic defenses (See: Virginia Tech)
3. Wake Forest
The Deacons always seem to hover around this level of being good, but never great. They'll have a lot of defensive experience, but their offense lacks the explosiveness needed to win the conference. RB Josh Adams ran for 953 yards and 11 TDs in his freshman season, and may wind up as one of the top backs in the conference. They play Clemson at home, which will be their biggest game of the season, unless of course they make it to the ACC title game.
4. Florida State
There will be two seasons for the Seminoles in 2008. Their first 3 games will see a large number of players suspended for that cheating scandal. They should crush Western Carolina and Chattanooga in that stretch, but will find Wake Forest a much more difficult opponent. QB Drew Weatherford has never met up to expectations, and weaknesses in the defensive line are the main reasons why FSU won't contend for a conference title. But the ACC lacks depth, so they'll seem to be in the mix.
The rest of this is alphabetical...
An 8th straight Bowl win, and an 11 win season will be followed by mediocrity on Chestnut Hill in 2008. Manning Award Winner Matt Ryan is in the NFL, stud CB Dejuan Tribble is gone, ballhawking safety Jamie Silva is gone, WR Kevin Challenger, RBs Andre Callendar and LV Whitworth are also no longer with the Eagles. The returning rushing leader is James McCluskey, who had 8 yards on the ground in '07. BC has to play all 4 of the good teams in the ACC, along with home games against C-USA Champion Central Florida and Notre Dame. They might not even reach bowl eligibility.
The Blue Devils haven't won an ACC game since November 13, 2004. They're 2-34 in their last 36 games. They have a chance to beat James Madison, that's pretty much it. Perhaps Northwestern will fall to Duke, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Former Navy coach Paul Johnson takes over in Atlanta this year, and you know what that means... rushing, rushing, and more rushing. Johnson isn't expected to implement the triple option just year, but don't be surprised if GT leads the ACC in rushing attempts. They lost a lot of key players, so with a new coach, a new system, and new personnel; it will be a rebuilding year. But the Yellow Jackets are always capable of a random sting here and there. Look for them to beat FSU when they play in November 1st. Why? I don't know. Why not?
The Terps have three possibilities at QB, which means they don't really have a QB. They also don't have much experience as the few truly talented players have all left. I'll give them credit for scheduling California, and I'll give Cal credit for agreeing to play in Maryland. They'll make a token Bowl game, where they will lose.
The Canes missed out on post-season play last year for the first time since 1997, and I couldn't have been happier. Of course, recruiting is Miami's biggest strength. Playing in southern Florida, having no academic standards, and not requiring a background check makes things even easier. Miami is young, and loaded with question marks, but they'll be better than they were last year.
NORTH CAROLINAAAAAAAAA!!! COME ON AND RAISE UP! TAKE YOUR SHIRT OFF, TWIST IT ROUND YOUR HAND, SPIN IT LIKE A HELICOPTER!
UNC always has two or three talented players. They've got some good receivers, but no offensive line, no QB, and no defensive line. Johnny White led the team in rushing with 399 yards, but now he's a cornerback. That pretty much sums up the Tar Heels.
I still can't figure out why Tom O'Brien decided to leave Boston College for NC State. The Wolfpack had the 110th ranked rushing offense last year, which complimented their 91st best rushing defense. The only good thing NC State has going is their defensive line, which has experience, talent, and Keith Willis Jr.
Best known as the team you always forget is in the ACC. UVA had a great season, going 9-4 and 6-2 in the conference. They have the toughest schedule of any ACC team. They open with USC. They play UConn in Storrs. Then finish the season @ Wake Forest, vs. Clemson, and @ Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers won last year because of a solid and conservative offense, along with a punishing pass rush. But that pass rush is now gone. And the offense isn't explosive enough to make up for that loss.
Games to Watch:
8/30 USC @ Virginia
8/30 Alabama vs. Clemson - in Atlanta
9/20 Wake Forest @ Florida St.
9/27 URI @ Boston College - just kidding
9/27 Va Tech @ Nebraska
10/9 Clemson @ Wake Forest
10/25 Va Tech @ Florida St.
11/8 Clemson @ Florida St.
11/29 Florida @ Florida St.
11/29 Georgia Tech @ Georgia
11/29 South Carolina @ Clemson
Which Teams Will End Up in Which Bowls?
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech
Chick-fil-A (Peach) Bowl: Clemson
Gator Bowl: Florida State
Champs Sports Bowl: Wake Forest
Music City Bowl: Miami
Meineke Car Care Bowl: Virginia
Emerald Bowl: Georgia Tech
Humanitarian Bowl: Maryland
Congressional Bowl: Boston College