This looks to be an improved year for the ACC as they enter the year with a couple of legit national title contenders in Miami and Virginia Tech. The league overall should see a higher profile than the past couple of seasons as they have several strong teams that should remain ranked throughout the season. The Coastal Division is loaded, with four good teams that’ll battle all season.
Here’s our projected order of finish with conference record for each team.
1. Florida State (7-1) – It’s the first year without Bobby Bowden at the helm in decades for the Seminoles. They’ll get back to the ACC Championship this season behind great play from Christian Ponder. Mark Stoops takes over for Mickey Andrews as defensive coordinator. Will he be able to get a young defense to gel and become one of the better in the conference is a big question for them.
2. Boston College (6-2) – A team that’s not getting a lot of attention but will be strong within the conference. They’ve got to go to Tallahassee this year and that’ll keep them out of the ACC Championship. The Eagles could pull a surprise but I don’t think they have enough playmakers to overtake the ‘Noles.
3. Clemson (3-5) – They have a gigantic hole to fill with the loss of C.J. Spiller, who was a one-man scoring machine last year. If they can get players to step up and make plays this could be a nine-win team, otherwise it’s probably 6-6.
4. N.C. State (2-6) – Tom O’Brien tries to get this program back to where it once was but it’s a struggle. Butch Davis has North Carolina headed upward and that’s keeping the Wolfpack back to contention in the ACC.
5. Wake Forest (2-6) – No Riley Skinner this year and a roster filled with young but talented players. If they can get them to step up they could get a bowl but I think it’s a year that’ll let them develop some young players who can get them back to contention.
6. Maryland (0-8) – The program has fallen the past few season and crashes this year with a winless conference season. The Terps will have a new head football coach next season.
1. Miami (8-0) – The Hurricanes have the toughest schedule in the country. The Coastal Division will be as tough as it ever has been this year, plus they have Pitt and Ohio State on the schedule. The Canes get their toughest games at home this year but a road game at Georgia Tech could derail the season.
2. Virginia Tech (7-1) – The Hokies once again have a strong running game but Tyrod Taylor will have to find a way to keep teams honest with the passing game. The defense also has some holes it has to fill but they will again be headed for a 10-win year.
3. North Carolina (5-3) – Butch Davis has recruited well at UNC and will have NFL scouts at every game this year checking out some outstanding talent on the defensive side of the ball. The question is the offense, though. If they can find a way to put up 28 points a game in the conference, they could win it.
4. Georgia Tech (4-4) – Paul Johnson’s triple option attack is still potent despite the loss of Jonathan Dwyer. How much will the defense miss Derrick Morgan though? They’ll need to get a new playmaker to step up against a brutal conference schedule.
5. Duke (2-6) - Duke will be improved, but a tough schedule including hosting Alabama will keep them from a bowl. David Cutcliffe is recruiting well and has the program trending upward. Next year, I think they can plan to attend a bowl.
6. Virginia (1-7) – It’ll be a transition year as Mike London heads up the program now after coming from Richmond. He’ll greatly improve a program that’s struggled in recent years but brutal league schedule won’t help fans get too excited this year.
ACC Champion: Miami Hurricanes
Player of the Year: Jacory Harris (QB – Miami)
Coach of the Year: Randy Shannon (Miami)
Top Five Games:
1. Virginia Tech vs. Boise State (September 6) A huge game to start the season for both teams. If Virginia Tech can win, they’ll make a big statement for the ACC and become national title contenders.
2. Miami at Ohio State (September 9) The winner of this game becomes an early favorite to head to the BCS Championship game, plus it’s a rematch of the greatest game of the 2000s as a bad call cost Miami a national championship in overtime.
3. Virginia Tech at Miami (November 20) This should decide the Coastal Division and put one of these teams in position for a BCS game.
4. Miami at Pittsburgh (September 23) Our projected Big East Champion takes on our projected ACC Champion.
5. Florida State at Miami (October 9) Should be a preview of the ACC Championship Game and is one of the best rivalries in college football.
See more of our 2010 Football Preview!