ACC Football 2010: Predicting the Winners of the Showcase Showdowns
The ACC football season is just around the corner, and in the 2010 season there will be some exciting matchups both on and off the field.
With teams looking to rebuild, restructure, or continue to grow it is interesting to look at how these teams best matchup against their conference foes.
Here is a look at seven of those marquee matchups and who I expect to come out on top in each of them. While these are just a smattering of all the great matchups in the ACC, they are the ones I'd definitely tune in to see.
Duke's Sean Renfree vs. Wake Forest's Secondary
When you think ACC Football, you certainly don't think about Duke being a marquee draw, but David Cutcliffe has other ideas.
The charismatic Blue Devils coach has got a new signal caller with limited game experience leading his potent aerial attack.
In his first ACC game as a starter, Renfree, who is coming off major knee surgery, will go face-to-face with an always athletic Wake secondary.
You may not know any of their names, but the players in Wake's secondary have been redshirted, and they known the system well.
This one is a coin toss, and much depends on how well Renfree bounces back from the injury without much offseason work. At this point the safe money is on Wake's secondary no matter who is in it.
Boston College Linebacker Mark Herzlich vs. Everyone Else
After sitting out the entire 2009 season battling cancer, BC linebacker Mark Herzlich will be a showcase in 2010 no matter where he goes.
And he should be.
He's not just a sad or inspiring story. He was a good football player before the cancer, and everyone is anxious and hopeful to see if he can still be as good.
Herzlich has already won, having announced he is in remission and coming back to the game. Regardless of your loyalties you should have no problems pulling for this kid.
Once he steps on the field to play he is a winner regardless of the scoreboard or opponent.
Miami's DE Allen Bailey vs. Virginia Tech O-Line
You can expect Miami defensive end Allen Bailey to become familiar with a lot of ACC quarterbacks this season.
But before he gets there he will have to get through some pretty good offensive linemen, including Virginia Tech's.
A team like Tech, which likes to run, should have a solid o-line. Will Bailey be able to penetrate it and get to the quarterback?
My bet is he will at least a couple of times. But will he catch the quarterback?
I think he wins the battle but will ultimately lose the war.
Paul Johnson's Offense Year Three vs. North Carolina's Defense
It is hard to imagine that in this day and age the triple option attack featured by Georgia Tech would be successful.
So far in his first two years at the helm Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson has proved the doubters wrong.
Of course it helped that he had the talented Johnathan Dwyer at his disposal in the backfield.
I'm not sure that Johnson will have as much success in year three, especially in mid-September when his Jackets take on the vaunted UNC defense featuring several future first-round draft picks like Quan Sturdivant.
After two seasons I'm sure a defense filled with several future pros will finally figure out the Georiga Tech triple option and come out on top.
Though this is UNC football, and they always underachieve.
Florida State's Christian Ponder vs. UNC Secondary
Ponder is the established quarterback, but there is a new sheriff in town. Bobby Bowden is gone, and Jimbo Fisher is set to launch his tenure at FSU, with his success riding on the arm of his star quarterback.
Ponder is a supposed "breakout star" at quarterback for the Seminoles.
The only problem is we've heard that line before.
The problem the Noles have suffered since Chris Weinke left town is that none of their quarterbacks have lived up to the hype.
Will Ponder fizzle out like all the others?
In the showdown versus the talented and amazingly fast UNC secondary I think Ponder gets the job done.
Yeah, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say Fisher starts off his tenure with a bang and a solid nine or 10 win season, including one over the vaunted UNC defensive backfield.
Clemson's Dabo Swinney vs the ACC Atlantic Division
Swinney was a surprising choice to lead the Tigers after Tommy Bowden was sent packing. While he has the respect of his players it remains to be seen whether or not he has what it takes.
Can Swinney recruit? Can he lead and inspire? Can he win the Atlantic Division against the likes of Florida State and stop the cycle of underachievement Clemson has seen in recent years?
More questions than answers, but he seems like a nice guy, and I'm willing to give him a shot.
But popular or not if he hasn't won at least the Division by the end of Year Three he is a goner.
Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams vs UNC's Quan Sturdivant
Virginia Tech seemingly has more running backs than the Washington Redskins, and they all might be better than those in D.C. at this point in their careers.
Williams is the cream of the crop, and when Coastal Division rival UNC comes calling the Hokies will be looking for revenge against the Tar Heels' stellar defense.
That defensive unit included future first-rounder Quan Sturdivant. While a head-to-head matchup between a defensive lineman and a running back never turns out as good as the billing, this one actually could be interesting.
My money is on Williams at this point, not because Sturdivant isn't good enough to stop him, but because the North Carolina defense as a whole really isn't that good.
We will find out for sure on November 13.