By David Teel
8:59 AM EDT, July 19, 2012
At last year’s ACC football kickoff, two of 71 voting media picked Clemson to win the league. Fifty tabbed Florida State. Not our finest forecasting moment.
But in the seven seasons since the advent of divisional play, we have hit the trifecta – both division winners and the conference champion – twice, in 2005 (Florida State over Virginia Tech) and ’10 (Hokies over Seminoles).
I’m guessing the consensus at this year’s kickoff, set for Sunday and Monday in Greensboro, N.C., will be Florida State to capture the Atlantic and Virginia Tech the Coastal, with the Seminoles prevailing in the title game.
Figure on considerable support, too, for defending champ Clemson. But since Florida State joined the ACC for the 1992 season, media have picked the Seminoles to win at least their division 19 of 20 years.
The exception was 2008, when we picked Clemson to rule the Atlantic. Instead, Boston College prevailed.
Virginia Tech is a similar perennial. The Hokies have been Coastal favorites each season except 2006, when Miami was our choice. Georgia Tech was the eventual winner.
Six months have passed since these January picks, but nothing has transpired to change my mind on Florida State and Virginia Tech clashing in the ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C.
Here’s how my ballot will look:
Virginia Tech: Bud Foster’s defense and quarterback Logan Thomas should be enough for the Hokies to reach their sixth ACC title game in eight years. My only pause: crossover games against Florida State and Clemson.
Georgia Tech: Bank on the Yellow Jackets reaching postseason for the 16th consecutive year. Question is, can they end a seven-game bowl losing streak?
North Carolina: Plenty of talent, especially on offense. But how will Tar Heels respond to postseason ineligibility and new coach Larry Fedora?
Virginia: If the Cavaliers steal a September game against either Penn State, Georgia Tech or Texas Christian, they could again surprise, especially if Phillip Sims is as good as the hype.
Miami: Early exits to the NFL and impending NCAA sanctions hamstring the five-time national champions.
Duke: David Cutcliffe is a top-shelf coach with a virtually impossible job.
Florida State: The Sept. 22 game against defending champion Clemson should determine the division, and the Seminoles are at home.
Clemson: New coordinator Brent Venables can’t help but improve a defense that was atrocious last season.
North Carolina State: With seven starters back on each side, this should be the best of Tom O’Brien’s six Wolfpack squads.
Boston College: Despite dismissal of tailback, Montel Harris, the Eagles should improve upon last season’s 4-8 finish. How much they progress could determine coach Frank Spaziani’s fate.
Wake Forest: Tanner Price has thrown 173 passes without an interception. But he’s among only three returning starters on offense.
Maryland: The Terps return 10 players who started at least three games on defense. Problem is, Maryland ranked last in the ACC in scoring defense, total defense and rushing defense.
ACC championship game: Virginia Tech over Florida State. I’m guessing that will not be my colleagues’ consensus.
Tweets and blog posts aplenty from Greensboro on Sunday and Monday.
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