1. Most important game: Sept. 22nd-Clemson @ Florida State
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
2012-2013 ACC Projections
The ACC did something they have not ever done last season. The ACC received two bids for BCS Bowl Games. Surprisingly, Florida State was not one of these teams, rather it was Clemson and Virginia Tech. This is the year for the Noles to finally win an ACC Championship though, it's now or never. Florida State must battle Clemson, the 2011 ACC Champion, for the ACC Atlantic Division again. In the Coastal Division, it will be a battle between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Will the ACC be a strong conference again? Or will we need to spin the wheel of destiny to come up with a conference champion?
ATLANTIC DIVISION W-L Analysis
1. Florida State 11-2 The Noles had high hopes of winning an ACC Championship last season, then lost three consecutive games early in the season to Oklahoma, Clemson, and Wake Forest. There are no excuses this season for the Noles. Florida State has to win the ACC Crown. They have almost all of their returning starters from last season with 17 (8 offense; 9 defense). Heisman Hopeful Sr. QB EJ Manuel looks to finally live up to expectations this season and lead an offense that was ranked 39th in the nation in scoring last season. The running game, which includes Sophomore Devonta Freeman, will need to improve after last season by only averaging 112.2 ypg (104th in the country). Manuel's main targets will return this season with So. Christian Green, Sr. Rodney Smith, and So. Rashad Greene. Once again, The defense for the Noles will be one of the best in the country. The Nole Defense was the 4th best in the country last season by only giving up an average of 15.1 ppg and an average of 2.35 yards per carry. The Nole Defense will consist of two potential All-ACC candidates in Sr. DE Brandon Jenkins and Jr. SS LaMarcus Joyner. The defense will also return Jr. Linebacker Christian Jones, who recorded 56 tackles and 3 sacks last season. The Noles should have a pretty easy ride to the ACC Championship game. Their only potential losses could occur on Sep. 22 at home against Clemson, at Virginia Tech (Nov.8th), and a non-conference home game against rival Florida (Nov. 24th). The Noles will play in their first BCS bowl game since 2005.
2. Clemson 9-3 Clemson was that underdog/surprise team last season. Most of the country figured they were at best average and had no chance of winning the ACC. But Head Coach Dabo Swinney proved the nation wrong early in the season. Clemson knocked off three straight ranked opponents. First, Clemson beat Auburn and ended their 16 game winning streak 38-24 in Death Valley, then beat #11 Florida State at home 35-30, and then traveled up to a hostile Lane Stadium and upset #11 Virginia Tech 23-3. Clemson ended up starting the season off 8-0, until they were upset at Georgia Tech. A big reason why Clemson won the ACC and earned a birth in the Orange Bowl was because of the play of now Jr. QB Tajh Boyd, who had 3,828 passing yards and 33 Touchdown passes last season, and explosive So. Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins, who had 1,219 reception yards and 12 touchdown receptions. Watkins will miss the first two games of this season though because of disciplinary reasons. An offense that averaged 33.6 ppg last season will have seven returning starters. Clemson will have 1,000 yard rusher from last season Sr. Andre Ellington and Jr. Wide Receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was second in command to Sammy Watkins. The Tiger Defense was among one of the worst in the ACC last season. The Clemson defense was absolutely manhandled by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl giving up 70 points. Seven starters return on the Tiger Defense, including Sr. DE Malliciah Goodman. You can bet that new Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables will have his defense in gear when the season starts. The Tigers will be a contender once again this season in the ACC. They open up in Atlanta vs Auburn, which will be a tough opening game and then travel three weeks later to Florida State. After Florida State, the Tigers will only have two other tough games as they will host Virginia Tech (Oct. 20th) and South Carolina (Nov. 24th).
3. NC State 8-4 Ok, so last season Quarterback Mike Glennon proved doubters wrong as he threw for 3,054 yards and 31 touchdowns, after NC State had said they were finished with Russell Wilson. The Wolfpack finished the season 8-5 and are looking to improve with 13 returning starters this season. Mike Glennon will once again be the leader on the offensive side of the ball and potential All-ACC 1st team Jr. CB David Amerson will lead the Wolfpack Defense. Amerson had an impressive season for the Wolfpack last season as he recorded 59 tackles and led the country in interceptions with 13. The Wolfpack will open the season with a tough opening game in Atlanta, where they must battle Tennessee. The next three games will be easy, then they must play at Miami, FL (Sept. 29th) and home against Florida State (Oct. 6th). Their last five of six games could go either way. The Wolfpack should be good for an 8-4 season.
4. Wake Forest 6-6 The Demon Deacons found a way to make it back to a bowl game since the 2008 season last year. Jr. QB Tanner Price must play a crucial role in an offensive that only returns 4 from last season. Price threw for 3,017 and 20 touchdowns last season, and played a major part in the Deacons making a bowl game. Price loses his main target though and running back from last season, so players like Jr. Tailback Joshua Harris and Jr. Wide Receiver Michael Campanaro will need to make a lot of improvements for this upcoming season. The Demon Deacon defense returns seven and will need to be better than last season as they were ranked 9th in the ACC in scoring and gave up an average of 27.4 ppg. Wake Forest will be a .500 team this season again. It would be an impressive season for Jim Grobe's team if they could hit seven wins.
5. Maryland 4-8 The Randy Edsall era started off on a high note as they rocked their crazy fashionable Under Armour jerseys and upset Miami at home 32-24. After their 1-0 start though, it all went all down hill from there. Maryland was blown out by Temple at home 38-7 and the Terps had nothing left in the tank. This season, the Terps can only go up from their two wins from last season. With the departure of Quarterback Danny O'Brien to Wisconsin, Jr. C.J. Brown will take over an offense that returns six starters. The defensive will need much improvement as well, as they were ranked last in the ACC in almost every defensive category. The Terp defense though will have potential All-ACC first team candidate Sr. Defensive Tackle Joe Vellano, who recorded 94 tackles last season and 4.5 tackles for loss. Maryland will improve their win total to four this season. They will get wins over three of their four non-conference opponents: FCS-William and Mary, Temple, and UConn. Maryland will get their lone ACC win over Wake Forest or Boston College.
6. Boston College 3-9 Last season was the first season since 1998 that the Eagles didn't go bowling. The offense returns ten from last season and will have new Offensive Coordinator Doug Martin making the calls. Again the offense will be on the shoulders of Jr. QB Chase Rettig and the rushing attack led by Jr. RB Rolandan Finch and Jr. RB Andre Williams. The passing game was 100th in the nation last season and only gained an average of 167.8 ypg. The Eagle defense was mediocre last season giving up an average of 18.2 ppg. Boston College's Defense will be led by Jr. LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, who had 74 tackles last season. The Eagles will probably not hit their four game win total from last year. The Eagles will win games against Maine and at Army. The third win could come against Maryland or Wake Forest. It's going to take another year for the Eagles to get back into bowl contention.
COASTAL DIVISION W-L Analysis
1. Virginia Tech 9-4 The Hokies found themselves in another BCS Bowl Game last season. Frank Beamer's squad lost two season games, both of which were at the hands of Clemson. The Hokies lost the ACC Championship game to the Tigers, but ended up getting an at-large bid and the nod over Kansas State to play in the Sugar Bowl and play Michigan. The Hokies will return just three starters on offense, including dual-threat Jr. Quarterback Logan Thomas, but will return nine starters on a defense that was ranked in the top ten only giving up 17.6 ppg (7th in the country). QB Logan Thomas will have his work cut out for him this season with only Sr. WR Marcus Davis and Jr. C Andrew Miller being the returning starters from last season. Thomas threw for 3,013 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Thomas also rushed for 11 touchdowns. The defense is what's going to keep the Hokies in the run for the ACC Crown. Virginia Tech's defense is led by potential All-American Sr. Linebacker Bruce Taylor. Taylor is joined by Jr. Defensive End James Gayle and Jr. Cornerback Kyle Fuller, as well as Jr. Cornerback Antone Exum. The Hokies open the season with a tough conference game against Georgia Tech, then travel to Pittsburgh two weeks later. The Hokies should be 6-1 when they hit the hardest part of their schedule. The Hokies must travel to Clemson (Oct. 20th), travel to Miami (Nov. 1st), and then host Florida State (Nov. 8th). Look for the Hokies to drop two of these three games, but still find themselves with a 9-3 record and a birth in the ACC Championship game.
2. Georgia Tech 8-4 The Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech look to be in the mix to win the Coastal Division this season. The Yellow Jackets return seven on offense and six on defense. The offense will again have an explosive running game, but there will be questions surrounding the passing game. Sr. QB Tevin Washington returns for his final season after leading an offense that was ranked 1st in the ACC last season in scoring at 34.3 ppg, rushing at 316.5 ypg, and in total offense at 458.8 ypg. The passing game ranked dead last in the ACC at 142.3 ypg. Washington rushed for 986 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Washington will have Jr. RB David Sims to help him in Paul Johnson's triple spread option offense. The Yellow Jacket defense returns potential All-ACC defensive players Jr. Linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu and Jr. FS Isaiah Johnson. The defense was mediocre last season ranking 5th in the ACC giving up 359.3 ypg. Georgia Tech will need to be ready in week 1 as they will travel to Coastal Division foe Virginia Tech. The Yellow Jackets should be 4-1 heading into a road game at Clemson on Oct. 6th. After Clemson, Georgia Tech will only have tough games at home against non-conference opponent BYU (Oct. 27), a road game at North Carolina (Nov. 10), and a season finale at in city rival Georgia (Nov. 24).
3. North Carolina 7-5 North Carolina will be playing for pride this season with new Head Coach Larry Fedora. The Tar Heels are still suffering from the sanctions received when Butch Davis was the head man at UNC and the Heels will not be eligible to play in a bowl game this season. The Tar Heels return 13 total starters (7 offense; 6 defense) and look to prove that they have a chance at being the best in the Coastal Division. The Tar Heel offense returns Jr. QB Bryn Renner, who last season passed for 3,086 yards and 26 touchdowns, as well as potential All-ACC So. RB Giovani Bernard, who rushed for 1,324 yards and 13 touchdowns as a Freshman. The offensive line also returns potential All-ACC Sr. OG Jonathan Cooper. The Tar Heel Defense should be stellar this season as they return potential All-American Sr. LB Kyle Reddick and potential All-ACC player Sr. DT Sylvester Williams. Last season, the Tar Heel defense ranked 27th in the nation in rushing defense. North Carolina should start off the season 2-0, then travel for a non-conference game against Big East favorite Louisville. After facing Louisville, the Tar Heels will get Idaho, then have a showdown at home against Virginia Tech (Oct. 6) and an away game at Miami, FL (Oct. 13). Other than NC State on Oct. 27th or Georgia Tech on Nov. 10th, the Tar Heels should win four of their last five games of the season. This season will be motivation for next season when the Tar Heels will be able to compete for an ACC Championship.
4. Miami (FL) 7-5 Second year Head Coach Al Golden and his Hurricanes will be looking to improve their win total from 6 last season and become bowl eligible after taking the bowl ban last season. The Hurricanes will have a chance to hit 7 wins this season, even though they only return 10 total starters and will be in rebuilding mode. 6 players left early for the NFL draft after last season, and put the Hurricanes at a disadvantage to compete for the Coastal Division. The Cane offense will be led by new starter Jr. QB Stephen Morris, who only had 37 pass attempts all of last season. There is not a lot of fire power on the offensive side of the ball with only 4 starters remaining from last season. The defense returns 6 starters and was ranked 17th in the nation by only giving up 20.1 ppg. The Cane defense will consist of potential All-ACC Defensive player Sr. FS Ray-Ray Armstrong and Sr. SS Vaughn Telemaque. Miami will need to start off strong as they must travel to Manahattan in week 2 and seek revenge on Kansas State, who beat them on a last second goal line stand. Miami is going to have a tough schedule after their third game against Bethune-Cookman (Sep. 15). The Hurricanes have to play NC State at home (Sep. 29), go to Chicago and play Notre Dame (Oct. 6), then host North Carolina (Oct. 13), Florida State (Oct. 20), and Virginia Tech (Nov.1). It is going to be a tough road this year for the Hurricanes and seven wins would be ideal.
5. Virginia 6-6 Mike London, who was the 2011 ACC Coach of the Year, and his Cavaliers came out of nowhere last season. Virginia was one win away from winning the Coastal Division last season, but was blanked at home against Virginia Tech 38-0. The Cavaliers return 7 on offense and 5 on defense, but will probably not hit their win total of 8 from last season. The offense returns Jr. QB Michael Rocco, Sr. TB Perry Jones, and potential All-ACC Sr. RT Morgan Moses. The defense will have another All-ACC potential Sr. MLB Steve Greer, who led the Cavs with 103 tackles last season. Sr. LB LeRoy Reynolds will also return and be on the defensive side of the ball. Reynolds recorded 88 tackles and 8 tackle for losses last season. The Cavaliers will be a .500 team this season, as they have two tough non-conference games against Penn State at home on Sep. 8th and at TCU on Sep. 22nd. They will need to win one of their last four games against either NC State, Miami, FL, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech, to become bowl eligible.
6. Duke 4-8 Three years ago, Duke was one win away from playing in their first bowl game since 1994, but the least two seasons the Blue Devils have had a combined win total of six. Duke has 17 returning starters from last season, but the experience may only give them one more win than last season. If the offense wants to put points on the board this season it will be up to Sr. QB Sean Renfree and potential All-ACC Sr. WR Connor Vernon. Duke was awful in every offensive category last season besides the passing game, where they averaged 272.2 ypg (2nd in the ACC). The Blue Devil defense struggled last season giving up 31.2 ppg and 425.4ypg. The defense will rely heavily on Jr. CB Ross Cockrell and Sr. FS Walt Canty. Duke should hit four wins this season with non-conference wins over FIU, NC Central, and Memphis. Duke will potentially get one ACC win at in-state rival Wake Forest or at home against Virginia.
ACC Championship Match-up: Florida State vs Virginia Tech
Top Ten (ACC)
1. Most important game: Sept. 22nd-Clemson @ Florida State
2. Biggest potential upset game: Oct. 6th- Virginia Tech @ North Carolina
3. Biggest surprise team: NC State
4. Best Quarterback: EJ Manuel, Florida State
5. Best Defense: Florida State
6. Biggest Bust: Georgia Tech passing game
7. Best Head Coach: Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
8. Most valuable to his team: QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
9. Best offensive duo: QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
10. Toughest environment to play in: Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech