Monday, July 30, 2007

ACC Atlantic Division Preview

From our friends at MadduxSports.com, a preview of the ACC Atlantic Division. A lot of balance in this Division with some new faces in the coaching ranks should make for an interesting fall.

When assembling our annual free college football predictions and season preview, the ACC Atlantic was easily the toughest division to forecast. There are very little talent gaps between the 1st and 6th spots. Expect one hell of a race that will surely come down to the final weeks of
the season. Here is our insight along with predicted order of finish.

1) Florida State – The Seminoles posted their first losing season in ACC play (3-5) last year and most publications are down on FSU this year. I have seen some publications not having Florida State ranked in their top 25 teams for 2007. Is it because of the detrimental season in 2006? Is it the fact that Bobby Bowden had swapped out most of his coaching staff? The question we are asking the publications is. Are you kidding me? Last year Florida State was very young (17 freshmen saw playing time) and had little senior leadership (only 9 scholarship seniors). This year the freshmen have experience, and there is an abundance of senior leadership (18 scholarship seniors). The fact of the matter is the Seminoles will rebound and will take the
Atlantic division.

The new coaches Bowden hired include some leading names like; Chuck Amato, Jimbo Fisher, and Rick Trickett. These guys are head coach material, they didn’t join Bowden to go to the Emerald bowl, they are here to win national championships. FSU appears to have the best defense in the ACC Atlantic and should improve on the 19.9 ppg surrendered in 06. The defensive line is top a 5 unit in the country. The offense will need Drew Weatherford to play like he knows how to play, but with a great running game, the Seminoles should revisit the BCS conversation.

2) Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons are one of the best stories in college football. Last year they lost their quarterback and running back early in the season and were the ultimate underdogs en route to winning the ACC championship. This season most people are calling for a relapse and who wouldn’t after +13 TO margin and +3 in close wins. We see this Wake Forest team, who returns 15 starters, as being better than last year. The Demon Deacons have the ideal schedule to make a run back to the title. It appears the good fortune that Wake Forest has enjoyed has leaked into the 2007 season drawing the 2 worst teams from the Coastal Division, North Carolina & Duke. Don’t sleep on the Deacs.

3) Clemson – The Tigers were 1 point away from winning the Atlantic division in 06, but after a loss to Maryland late in the year, Clemson finished losing 3 out of their last 4 games. This season they have the best rushing attack in the entire ACC. In terms of top rushing offenses, the great tandem of Davis-Spiller puts Clemson on par with the national powers, West Virginia and Arkansas. The time frame it takes the new QB’s to fit in will see the Tigers finishing as high 2nd or as low as 6th.

4) NC State – At the end of the 2006 season, the Wolfpack poached away former Boston College head man Tom O'Brien. O'Brien is moving away from the chuck it down the field offense to a more traditional ground scheme by focusing on the running attack. NC State was -11 in turnover ratio and -5 in net close losses in 06, so better luck is projected. If they can find a quarterback and the defense holds up, the Wolfpack could easily rise up to the number 2 position in the Atlantic.

5) Boston College – The Eagles have 17 returning starters which ordinarily gives a guaranteed increase in wins the next year. The problem with making that prediction is that BC has a tough road schedule and draws the 3 best teams from the Coastal division; Virginia Tech, Miami, and Georgia Tech. Boston College will see improvement but their record won’t illustrate it.

6) Maryland – The Terrapins had a 5-3 ACC record which led them to the champ sports bowl where they beat Purdue 24-7. They return 14 starters and one would think that they are on the up and up. If you look at the Terrapins season a little closer you will see that they were actually outgained by 86 yards per game in ACC play. They also benefited from +6 net close wins. Basically everything went the right way for the Terps in 06. Throw in the fact that the QB situation is still unresolved and we will call for Maryland to finish last in the Atlantic division.

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