The 2009 ACC Football Outlook
Football's almost here, and one of the more storied conferences in college football is the ACC. With Virginia Tech as a perennial powerhouse and Florida State and Miami working their way back to dominance, The ACC looks like it will be a force to be reckoned with this year. Not to mention the surfacing of Georgia Tech as a possibility to represent the ACC in the BCS this year, and Butch Davis bringing North Carolina into the mix. North Carolina State is also another team that may cause a couple headaches in the ACC. But who knows what will actually happen this year? Nobody does, that's why they play the games. Here's how I think the ACC will look like once the season is over.
Atlantic Division: 1-Florida State
2008: 9-4, 5-3
Key Games: Oct. 10-Georgia Tech
After a 9 win season last year let's see if Bobby Bowden's troops can build on this success and get back to 10+ wins a year like they pulled off in the 90s. The Seminoles have lost their intimidation in recent years, but it looks like they're starting to get it back.
2008: 7-6, 4-4
Key Games: Sept. 10-Georgia Tech
Nov. 7-Florida State
Nov 28-South Carolina
The Tigers had a disappointing season which began with them having hopes to contend for a national championship, and it cost head coach Tommy Bowden his job halfway through the season. Now Dabo Swinney leads a team into the 2009 campaign that has a lot of talent. RB C.J. Spiller and WR Jacoby Ford are getting ready for their last season at Clemson. The question is: Can they overcome last year's disappointment and end their college careers in style?
2008: 8-5, 4-4
Key Games: Oct 17-Clemson
Nov 7-Georgia Tech
Nov 14-Florida State
The 2009 Demon Deacons, once again led by senior QB Riley Skinner, are poised to make it back to the ACC championship. They'll have to beat some good teams to get there, though. They kick off the season against an improving Baylor squad, and have a conference schedule that includes Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina State.
4-North Carolina State
2008: 6-7, 4-4
Key Games: Sept 26-Pittsburgh
Oct 31-Florida State
Nov 21-Virginia Tech
Russell Wilson who in my opinion is the best quarterback in the ACC, will lead the Wolfpack into the '09 season looking to improve on last year's success. Even though they started out last year 2-6, Wilson helped lead NC St. to 4 straight wins to become eligible for a bowl. That winning streak was snapped when they lost to Rutgers in the Papajohns Bowl. With Russell improving from his performance as a freshman last year, the Wolfpack could be looking at an 8 or 9 win season.
2008: 8-5, 5-3
Key Games: Oct 3-Florida State
Oct 10-Virginia Tech
Nov 21-North Carolina
The Eagles beat Virginia Tech last year, but they didn't win the one that mattered most. After beating Va Tech in the regular season, they lost to the Hokies in the ACC Championship game for the second straight year. Can they make it back? It'll be tough, especially since coach Jeff Jagodzinski was fired for interviewing for a coaching job with the NY Jets in the offseason. Now it's up to new coach Frank Spaziani to help keep the Eagles in contention for the ACC title.
2008: 8-5, 4-4
Key Games: Sept 5-California
Oct 10-Wake Forest
After losing Darrius Heyward-Bey to the draft, do the Terrapins have enough talent to get them to another bowl this season? Ralph Friedgen has had some tough jobs before, but I think this may be his toughest.
Coastal Division: 1-Virginia Tech
2008: 10-4, 5-3
Key Games: Sept 5-Alabama
Oct 17-Georgia Tech
Nov 5-East Carolina
The Hokies were able to rebound from an upset loss to East Carolina to start the season and garnered another 10 win season. They represented the ACC well in the Orange Bowl, beating the Cincinnati Bearcats 20-7. Now, with QB Tyrod Taylor back, the Hokies have their eyes on a national championship. They have a big game to kick off their season against Alabama. This game will show us just how good the Hokies really are.
2008: 9-4, 5-3
Key Games: Oct 10-Florida State
Oct 17-Virginia Tech
Last season, the Yellow Jackets established themselves as a real contender in the ACC. Even though they got crushed 38-3 by LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, you'd still have to consider last season a success for Tech. Their last 3 regular season victories came against Florida State (31-28), Miami (41-23), and in-state rival Georgia (45-42). With one of the nation's best running backs in Jonathan Dwyer, the Yellow Jackets may possibly be looking at a 10 win season, an ACC title, and a BCS berth.
2008: 7-6, 4-4
Key Games: Sept 7-Florida State
Sept 26-Virginia Tech
The Hurricanes continue to disappoint. With the recruiting base they have down in Florida, you'd think a team with the history of Miami would be able to get a load a top notch recruits. That doesn't seem to be the case. The Hurricanes barely finished above 500 with a 7-6 record in 2008, and it doesn't look like things will be any different in '09. The Canes have a tough schedule and will be looking at another finish in middle of the ACC Coastal division.
2008: 8-5, 4-4
Key Games: Sept 26-Georgia Tech
Oct 29-Virginia Tech
The Tar Heels had a decent season in '08 and should only get better in 2009. Sure they lost 3 great receivers: Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate, Brooks Foster, but the Heels bring back QB T.J. Yates. His experience along with Butch Davis' ability to get the most out of his players will land UNC another bowl bid this year. Don't be suprised if the Heels sneek into a New Year's Day bowl game.
2008: 5-7, 3-5
Key Games: Sept 12-TCU
Oct 24-Georgia Tech
Nov 28-Virginia Tech
The Cavs struggled last season. Plain and simple. Their only bright spot was a 24-17 upset victory at Georgia Tech. After losing LBs Clint Sintim, Antonio Appleby, and Jon Cooper, don't expect things to get better for Virginia this year. Their young, inexperienced defense will be put through the gauntlet this year. Early season matchups agains TCU, Southern Miss, and UNC may knock the Cavaliers out of bowl contention quick.
2008: 4-8, 1-7
Key Games: Oct 10-NC State.
Nov 7-North Carolina
Nov 28-Wake Forest
The Dukies have been perennial cellar dwellers in the ACC since the early 90s. That won't change this year. Although the Blue Devils have an easy schedule early on (3 of the first 4 games are against Richmond, Army, and North Carolina Central), remember the Devils started 3-1 last year. They then went on to lose 7 out of their last 8 games to finish 4-8, 1-7 in the conference. That may be the scenario we'll be looking at when the season is over.
ACC Championship Game
Look for Hokies fans to be celebrating when Virginia Tech defeats Florida State in this year's ACC Championship Game by a score of 21-14. Congrats Hokie Nation. You're going to the BCS again!