College Football Predictions: Will Virginia Tech Hokies Win the ACC?

Collin BerglundCorrespondent IIIMay 5, 2011

College Football Predictions: Will Virginia Tech Hokies Win the ACC?

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  The Virginia Tech Hokies marching band performs prior to the Hokies playing against the Stanford Cardinal during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Atlantic Coast Conference figures to be one of the top conferences in college football next season.  Five teams have a chance at winning the championship.

    Although Florida State is the preseason favorite, they will have to deal with a strong Virginia Tech team, among others.

    Over the past decade, the ACC has ranged from a top conference to an embarrassment among conferences that got an automatic BCS-bid.

    This year, the ACC will return to the top and will have a number of teams in contention for a top-25 spot come season's end.

Florida State Seminoles

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    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Head coach JimboFisher of the Florida State Seminoles is doused with water in the final seconds of their 26-17 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2010 in Atlan
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Losing Bobby Bowden did not immediately diminish the Seminoles to irrelevancy last season.  Jimbo Fisher piled up ten wins in his first season replacing a legend.

    Although the Seminoles lost star quarterback Christian Ponder to the NFL, most (18/22) starters on last year's team will be returning and new quarterback E.J. Manuel has a great reputation and appears ready to lead the Seminoles offense.

    The Seminoles also will have a fearsome defense if its young corners and linebackers continue to develop.

    Florida State is the favorite in the ACC and could begin the season ranked in the top-five.

Virginia Tech Hokies

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  Hokie Bird, mascot of the Virginia Tech Hokies looks on against the Stanford Cardinal during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Stanford won 40-12. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Gett
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The Hokies will have to adjust early in the season to losing quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running backs Ryan Williams and Darren Evans.

    Even so, it appears the Hokies will have veteran leadership on offense—Virginia Tech returns four seniors on the offensive line.  

    With a line that knows how to play together, sophomore Logan Thomas should have time in the pocket to learn how to be a quarterback in the ACC.

    The Hokies always seem to have a strong defense.  They will again in 2011, returning seven starters from a playmaking defense last season.

    The Hokies don't play a game they should lose until Week 5 which should allow its offense to learn the ropes before plunging into ACC games.

Maryland Terrapins

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    BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Davin Meggett #8 of the Maryland Terrapins runs with the ball during their game against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Image
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Last year, the Terps came back in a big way from a 2009 season where they only won two games by going 9-4 and winning a bowl game.

    Maryland figures to continue to take steps forward.  Although the team lost star wide receiver Torrey Smith, quarterback Danny O'Brien is coming off a season that he won ACC Rookie of the Year in and is playing for new head coach Randy Edsall.  

    Maryland also returns its leading rusher from last season in Davin Meggett.  Meggett and O'Brien will be the leaders of what figures to be a potent offensive attack.

    Defense will be a question mark for the Terrapins.  New defensive coordinator Todd Bradford does not have a sterling reputation, and the Terps lost star linebacker Alex Wujciak.  Even so, talented safety and NFL prospect Kenny Tate will be shifting to linebacker and should continue to make plays.

    Maryland felt snubbed by its bowl selection last season and is motivated to improve this season.  

North Carolina Tar Heels

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 13:  The North Carolina Tar Heels huddle against the Virginia Tech Hokies during their game at Kenan Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Butch Davis has helped turn around a Tar Heel program that used to be a perennial ACC basement-dweller.

    Although a number of defensive Tar Heels were drafted this year, many didn't play last year because of suspensions, so the Tar Heels return a number of players on offense and defense who should help the team advance in the ACC.

    The loss of quarterback T.J. Yates will undoubtedly hurt, but his successor, Bryn Renner, should have the tools, including star wide receiver Dwight Jones, to effectively lead the offense.

    The Tar Heels have the ability to finish in the top two ACC teams if they continue to improve at the pace of the past few seasons.

Miami Hurricanes

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    MIAMI - NOVEMBER 20: Lamar Miller #6 of the Miami Hurricanes runs for a touchdown during a game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Sun Life Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Excitement has returned to Miami with the hire of former Temple coach Al Golden.

    Miami returns an experienced offensive line who should be able to create holes for running back Lamar Taylor.  

    The Hurricanes also have two talented quarterbacks in Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris.  Neither found their stride last season, often throwing interceptions.  

    But with another year of experience under their belts and a more experience offensive line, expect whichever player starts makes strides this season.

    On defense, the Hurricanes will count on linebacker Sean Spence to build upon his solid 2010 season.  Two safeties return, hoping to give security to new starting corners.  Three of four defensive linemen return.

    The Hurricanes should improve upon their 2010 season and be in contention for a top ACC bowl game.