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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
2007 PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH (with projected records)

 

ATLANTIC

1. Boston College (9-3)
2. Florida State (8-4)
3. Wake Forest (8-4)
4. Maryland (7-5)
5. Clemson (6-6)
6. North Carolina State (4-8)

COASTAL

1. Virginia Tech (10-2)
2. Georgia Tech (8-4)
3. Miami FL (8-4)
4. Virginia (6-6)
5. North Carolina (3-9)
6. Duke (1-11)

 

MOST ASKED QUESTIONS

Is there a national championship contender in the ACC?

Once again, the ACC race is wide open, and once again, for the fifth year in a row, the ACC will fail to place a team in the national championship race. The league maintains too much parity, and, outside of Virginia Tech (the only team worthy of a preseason Top 20 ranking), nobody seems talented enough across the board to arise out of such parity. And the Hokies have to find out early (in the second week) how they stack up on the national scene by traveling to SEC powerhouse and current No.2 LSU.

Can Wake Forest repeat as conference champion?

Of course they can. Coach Jim Grobe has earned everyone's respect…not just by winning the crown last fall, but also by what the Demon Deacons have been doing successfully in his six years at the helm. Wake Forest brings back nine starters to an offense that drives teams crazy with a methodical misdirection rushing attack. Let's put it this way...Wake Forest has succeeded before with less talent than they have now. The problem is the target on their chest since the Deacs are the defending champs, and they got that way by flying under the radar.


Who are the favorites to win each division?

The Atlantic Division is a flip of the coin, much like we saw last year with Wake Forest sneaking up. Every single team - outside of possibly NC State and their QB issues - has a legit shot at being in the race until Thanksgiving weekend. The ACC media members have chosen FSU and their newly aligned coaching staff as the favorite. And why not, for they continue to bring in highly ranked recruiting classes from that hotbed of recruiting known as the Sunshine State. Our pick is Boston College - senior QB Matt Ryan is the best QB in the ACC. With 17 starters back (10 on defense) the Eagles have no weaknesses; what they do have are two proven RBs, an All-Conference receiver, a big, mobile OL, and a defense loaded with quality seniors. They also get FSU at home. The obvious choice in the Coastal Division is Virginia Tech. The Hokies are carrying an emotional chip on their shoulder after the horrible events of last April and possess a defense second to none (three preseason All-Americans). If opponents thought it was tough before this to travel to Blacksburg, 2007 will be brutal; caring fans can now be counted from far and wide, with enough new support to sentimentally make them “America’s team” for the upcoming campaign. Coach Beamer's main problems are inconsistency at QB and finding both a new kicker and punter to continue the special team’s tradition here. Don't sleep on Georgia Tech (see our surprise team below). The Jackets can run, pass (finally), block and tackle. They just need WR James Johnson to rise up and give new QB Taylor Bennett a ‘go to’ target.

Will Florida State and Miami rebound?

When this new, 12-team ACC was formed, the feeling was that Miami and FSU would play for the ACC Championship most every season. So far, this has been far from the case. These two teams have been so similar throughout their recent downfalls and, now, they still parallel each other with the present season at hand. Even at the worst times, the defenses have always remained more than solid, but the QBs and running games have been lost. Both coaching staffs have been revamped for 2007. Most importantly, though...if we had to place a finger on the big reason these two teams have fallen, it has to do with ignoring the plights of their OLs. Sure, skill position recruits are easy to find and they put these teams at the top of the recruiting rankings. But the offensive lines have been totally inept. However, one of these two will rise up and finish in the Top 15 at season's end. The surrounding talent in each program really is no different (outside of the OL) or less in quality than what it has been the last ten years. New coaching will tell the 2007 success tale for one of these two...if not for both storied programs.

What teams are sitting on the fence between being good and disappointing?

Nobody seems to be giving Clemson respect. The best running team in the league (2006) is rather one-dimensional with either new QB, Cullen Harper or true freshman Willy Korn. Needless to say, since QB Charlie Whitehurst moved on, the Tigers are struggling bigtime to locate a passer. With Maryland, mark it down now – upwards of three QBs will rotate in the opener versus Villanova in an attempt to find the right one. Junior Jordan Steffy gets the nod for now. If he remains the starter, he will have to improve by leaps and bounds before the Terps get back to competing for a title. N.C. State brings in new coach Tom O'Brien from Boston College. Since Philip Rivers left, the QB situation in Raleigh has been sub-par, to say the least, and the Pack will have to get more than 120 yards per game out of big RBs Baker and Brown to make a difference. Down the (tobacco) road in Chapel Hill, new coach Butch Davis has talented freshmen and sophomores making up most of the Tar Heel depth chart. This personifies how his team will have to take two steps back before they can take one step forward. The future may look bright, but the present will be a struggle. In Virginia, head coach Al Groh might actually be squirming a bit. Early promises when he arrived seven years ago (while bringing in a couple of great recruiting classes) haven’t equaled more than a four-loss season. Young QB Jameel Sewell shows great promise, but they will have to rely on defense to carry the load; huge question marks at receiver remain since All-Conference snarler Kevin Ogletree went down early in the spring with a torn knee.

 

BEST PLAYER AT EACH POSITION

QB Matt Ryan - Boston College
RB James Davis - Clemson
WR Greg Carr - Florida State
TE Anthony Hill - North Carolina State
OL Barry Richardson - Clemson
DL Calais Campbell - Miami FL
LB Vince Hall - Virginia Tech
DB DeJuan Tribble - Boston College
K Sam Swank - Wake Forest
P Durant Brooks - Georgia Tech

 

COACH ON THE HOT SEAT

Ted Roof - Duke
Owning the nation's longest losing streak (20 games) and compiling a 7-39 record over a four-year period really is nothing new in Durham. This is coach Roof's fifth year and his own recruits are now (in) the mix. The offense, which has been ranked last or next to last in total offense in the ACC for eight consecutive years, returns all 11 starters. But the defense (Ted Roof is the coordinator) is a major cause for concern after losing a good many contributors from '06. There are no Division I-AA games on the schedule and each week will be an adventure trying to outscore opponents, quite a few which will even put up over 40 points a game. The Blue Devils need to break the losing streak or at least get two more victories before Roof can consider getting another shot in 2008. Yes, this is Duke football. Yes, this is a football coaches' nightmare.

 

SURPRISE TEAM

Georgia Tech
When college fans think of Georgia Tech in 2007, they think of departed stars Reggie Ball (QB) and Calvin Johnson (WR) and what might now be. OK, so losing the nation's best WR will not be so easy. But do not sleep on new QB Taylor Bennett, who offers so much more than underachieving Reggie Ball in terms of throwing the football with optimal results. Just ask West Virginia, seeing how Bennett ripped the Mountaineer secondary for 326 yards and three TDs in a 38-35 thrilling Gator Bowl loss while filling in for an academically ineligible Ball. The Yellow Jackets have a running game with All-ACC RB Tashard Choice, a veteran OL returning four starters and a typically aggressive defense with talent and experience at every position (eight starters back). Come November, Tech will be in the thick of the ACC Championship race.

 

BIGGEST GAMES (NationalChamps.net Score Pick)

September 1
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame (Notre Dame favored by 4 points)
Wake Forest at Boston College (Boston College favored by 7 points)
Florida State at Clemson - Monday (Florida State favored by 3 points)

September 8
Miami FL at Oklahoma (Oklahoma favored by 10 points)
Nebraska at Wake Forest (Nebraska favored by 9 points)
Virginia Tech at Louisiana State (LSU favored by 7 points)

September 15
West Virginia at Maryland - Thursday (West Virginia favored by 15 points)
Florida State at Colorado (Florida State favored by 9 points)

September 22
Texas A&M at Miami FL - Thursday (EVEN)
Georgia Tech at Virginia (Georgia Tech favored by 4 points)

September 29
Clemson at Georgia Tech (Georgia Tech favored by 1 point)
Alabama vs. Florida State @Jacksonville, FL (Florida State favored by 4 points)
Maryland at Rutgers (Rutgers favored by 6 points)
Louisville at North Carolina State (Louisville favored by 13 points)
Pittsburgh at Virginia (Virginia favored by 3 points)

October 6
Virginia Tech at Clemson (Virginia Tech favored by 3 points)
Georgia Tech at Maryland (Georgia Tech favored by 3 points)

October 13
Florida State at Wake Forest - Thursday (Florida State favored by 2 points)
Boston College at Notre Dame (Boston College favored by 1 point)
Georgia Tech at Miami FL (Miami favored by 3 points)
South Carolina at North Carolina (South Carolina favored by 6 points)

October 20
Wake Forest at Navy (Wake Forest favored by 4 points)
Miami FL at Florida State (Florida State favored by 2 points)

October 27
Boston College at Virginia Tech - Thursday (Virginia Tech favored by 7 points)

November 3
Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech - Thursday (Virginia Tech favored by 4 points)
Florida State at Boston College (Boston College favored by 4 points)

November 10
Florida State at Virginia Tech (Virginia Tech favored by 2 points)
Virginia at Miami FL (Miami favored by 8 points)

November 17
Boston College at Clemson (Boston College favored by 1 point)
Miami FL at Virginia Tech (Virginia Tech favored by 4 points)

November 24
Miami FL at Boston College (Boston College favored by 3 points)
Florida State at Florida (Florida favored by 7 points)
Clemson at South Carolina (South Carolina favored by 7 points)
Georgia at Georgia Tech (Georgia favored by 4 points)
Virginia Tech at Virginia (Virginia Tech favored by 10 points)



TOP FIVE UNIT RANKINGS
  Running Back Defensive Line
  Wide Receiver Linebacker
  Offensive Line Defensive Back