Clemson With a Golden Opportunity as ACC Heads Into a New Era
Clemson has had many ups and downs under head coach Dabo Swinney. But for the first time in his tenure they are the clear-cut favorites to win the conference. When quarterback Tahj Boyd informed Swinney he would be returning for his senior campaign, the coach knew his squad would be the prohibitive favorites. The Tigers toughest conference match-up is Florida State, but we give them the edge because the game is played in Death Valley. But if Clemson is going to contend for a national title, they’ll have to earn it out-of-conference. They start and end the season facing two of the SEC’s toughest opponents (Georgia, South Carolina).
Although it has been a slow rise, Jimbo Fisher has finally put Florida State in a position to get back to being the Florida State of old. But they do have one question they must answer if they’re going to defeat Clemson – who is going to replace EJ Manuel at quarterback? Jameis Winston, a red-shirt freshman, appears to be the replacement. We give the edge in this conference to Clemson because they have an experienced quarterback and get Florida State at home.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is heading into a new era. Times are a changin’. This is no longer an 8-team league that Florida State (a great team to bet on!) makes mince meat of year after year. There is more parity – and now two new teams (Syracuse, Pittsburgh) – and less power at the top. Florida State still isn’t the Florida State of old. However, the bottom teams are a bit more competitive. Duke doesn’t get annihilated by the league’s best every game anymore. They’re still bad, just not quite as bad as they once were. Teams like Florida State actually have to show up for games against the cellar dwellers in this league now.
Here is how we project the 2013 season to go in the ACC…
- Florida State
- NC State
- Wake Forest
- Boston College
- Virginia Tech
- North Carolina
- Georgia Tech
ACC Championship Game: Clemson over Miami
Bowl Eligible Teams: Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Miami, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh
Atlantic Division Overview: It Will Come Down to One Game
There are 5 mediocre teams in this division (NC State, Maryland, Syracuse, Wake Forest Boston College). This division is going to come down to the October 19 match-up in Death Valley between Clemson and Florida State. Those two teams will pad their records with 5 wins against the other teams in this division. NC State, Maryland, and Syracuse all will have a shot to compete for a bowl game. But, truthfully, none of those teams would win more than a game or two in the SEC. Let’s be honest here, the ACC is a mediocre conference.
Unless you are a fan of the bottom-5 teams in this division or have money on the games, there’s really no point in watching them face each other…unless you enjoy bad football. The Florida State at Clemson game is the biggest game of the year in the ACC. It’s an interesting match-up. We’ll see how improved Brent Venables’ defense is matched up against Florida State’s inexperienced quarterback. Clemson’s defense improved throughout the year last year, but it’s still their weak link compared to the offense. If the Tigers have any national title aspirations, they’ll need to mature drastically on defense especially in their season opener against Georgia’s high potent offense.
Coastal Division Overview: Quantity, Not Quality
Clemson and Florida State are clearly the two most talented teams in the ACC. It’s unfortunate they’re in the same division because that would make for an epic conference championship game. Someone must come out of the Coastal Division to face the winner of the Atlantic. There are 4 teams that will battle it out – Miami, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech. You might as well just flip a coin. All 4 of those teams are capable of winning this division.
Miami is our favorite and we think they’ll be hungry this year. Give Al Golden some credit. This is a program that went through some tough times but he’s bringing them back to respectability. The U will be led by rising quarterback Stephen Morris. He came out of nowhere as a junior to throw for 11 touchdowns and 0 picks. He also had great mobility. Duke Johnson broke the school’s freshman rushing record, surpassing the great Clinton Portis. Miami will have a potent offense but they’ll lose a few games because of their defense.