The ACC's had a pretty crazy off-season. North Carolina fired its coach Butch Davis. He was former coach of the University of Miami, who just announced that eight of its players had been suspended in a scandal involving some guy called Nevin Shapiro. We'd go into details, but safe to say that Mr Shapiro didn't offer these recruits cookies and milk in return for their commitment to Miami Football.
1) So what about 'Da U?'
Right, quarterback Jacory Harris, wide receiver Travis Benjamin, Sean Spence, Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo have all been suspended for a game and are going to have to pay back the money they were given by Shapiro. Four others are going to have to pay back dough, but it's under $100, apparently. The news is worse for the defense, where safety Ray-Ray Armstrong and defensive linesman Olivier Vernon will be out for four and six games apiece. Tight end Dyron Dye will miss four games apiece.
Anyway, new coach Al Golden's pretty darned happy about this (and by nature, we Penn State fans are happy for you, Al), because it means that it's unlikely that the Hurricanes will be destroyed. We don't think they'll contend for a National Title, but it sure as heck makes 'Suspension Bowl' against Ohio State on Week 2 more interesting.
2) Now, about those 'Noles....
The Florida State Seminoles are coming, and they are coming fast. Despite losing 19th-year senior Christian Ponder to the NFL Draft, they return quarterback EJ Manuel, superb wide receiver Bert Reed, and they've got a depth of running talent - including Chris Thompson, who'll probably go for over 1,000 yards this year. On defense, we love speedster cornerback/ punt returner Greg Reid, who is the most exciting person on both sides of the ball any Florida State fan could hope for. The biggest game is going to be a monster Week 2 match-up with Oklahoma.
3) Anyone excited about Virginia Tech?
If you remember last season, Virginia Tech laughably lost to James Madison on Week 2 (notice a pattern here?) but rebounded to an 11-3 record (8-0 in the ACC). This season, the Hokies will miss QB Tyrod Taylor. Sorry, but we're calling Logan Thomas a downgrade to Taylor. Don't worry Logan - a lot of players would be. But Frank Beamer's other option - David Wilson - is potentially frightening. Defense-wise, we don't see any HUGE problems for Bud Foster, bearing in mind that lineback Bruce Taylor and his secondary is frightening.
Other things to get excited about....
Randy Edsall's new reign at Maryland will start with 13 starters including QB Danny O'Brien....North Carolina had quite a quiet off-season in comparison to most, firing Butch Davis and hiring Everett Withers. There's still going to be a lot of talent in Chapel Hill (that man Davis could recruit!).
Players to watch
EJ Manuel (Florida State), Jacory Harris (Miami), Travis Benjamin (Miami), Greg Reid (Florida State), Bert Reed (FSU), David Wilson (Virginia Tech).
Games to watch
- Oklahoma at Florida State - Should be a monster of a game in Tallahassee. Why College Gameday has opted for going under the lights in Michigan we'll never know....
- Ohio State at Miami - Miami gets some talent back. Ohio State doesn't. The 'Suspension Bowl' in all its glory on Week 2.
- Miami at Florida State - The usual classic between these two.
- Florida State at Florida - Gators fans would love nothing more than to ruin their rivals' National Title hopes.
- Clemson at South Carolina - This might seem like a joke, but South Carolina might need to win this to go to the National Championship. Might.
- Appalachian State at Virginia Tech - Remember last year, Hokies, remember last year.
- Auburn at Clemson - The game might not be great (and nationally ignored!), but the atmosphere's going to be something special in this Week 3 battle.
- West Virginia at Maryland - People think Big East football's a joke. If Maryland win this one, the Big East looks even worse as West Virginia fans will throw themselves on the couch.
- Florida State at Wake Forest- The Florida State of old used to lose games like this. We'll see what happens to the 2011 version, shall we?
- Miami at North Carolina - Let's just call this 'Suspension Bowl Part 2', shall we?
Florida State beats Virginia Tech in a belter of an ACC Championship Game - but is it good enough for the 'Noles to go to the National Championship Game?
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