Predictions for the ACC Atlantic Division in 2013.

clemson-watkins2We gave our predictions a few days ago for the ACC Coastal Division. It’s time to check out the ACC Atlantic Division…

Clemson Tigers 10-2 (7-1) – Atlantic Winner

Clemson has been feeling pretty good about themselves ever since their potentially landmark bowl win over SEC power LSU, and why not? LSU has lost to exactly 1 other non SEC team since 2005. Tajh Boyd returns as one of the best country’s quarterbacks, and Sammy Watkins looks to regain his form as the nation’s premier receiver. The offense was nearly unstoppable last year scoring more 35 points in 10 straight games.  The question mark is the defense which was uneven at best last season.

Will Go 12-0 (8-0) if:

The defense can make another step forward in 2013. Clemson looked like an elite defense against LSU, but more often than that not it was a pretty mediocre season defensively. The Tigers ranked 63rd in defense in 2012. That unit will be tested early by Georgia’s outstanding offense led by QB Aaron Murray. The Tigers get 2 of their 3 toughest games, UGA and FSU in Death Valley too.

Will Go 8-4 (6-2) if:

The Tigers struggle with the best teams on their schedule. Is it impossible to think that Clemson could lose to Georgia, Florida State, and South Carolina? All 3 teams have high-end talent, and will be pre-season ranked in the top 15. Go 0-3 with those teams, and get beat on the road at an upset minded NC State, Syracuse or Maryland and that’s 4 losses in a hurry.

Florida State 10-2 (7-1)

Florida State is so close to being a national championship caliber program again. Winners of the ACC and the Orange Bowl in 2012, Jimbo Fisher is to the point where he just re-stocks talent at FSU. It’s only a matter of time before Florida State enters a November in the thick on the national title chase.

Will Go 12-0 (8-0) if:

QB Jameis Winston really is anything resembling the 2nd coming Charlie Ward. It seems like Winston is already a legend at FSU, and he hasn’t even started a football game yet. If the FSU survives a tricky prime time ACC opener at Pittsburgh, they should cruise to a 5-0 start and a top 10 ranking heading to Clemson. That will be one of only two possible games where Florida State won’t be favored. The other is at Florida. Beat everyone they are supposed to, and come up with 2 good road performances, 12-0 is not a stretch.

Will go 9-3 (6-2) if:

The Seminoles continue the disturbing tendency of losing at least 1 game to a clearly inferior opponent. Last season it was NC State, the year before it was Wake Forest and appalling home loss to Virginia. Heck if FSU just beats the team they are supposed too, they should go no worse than 10-2 each season.

North Carolina State 8-4 (4-4)

Dave Doeren, the former North Illinois coach, is now the head man at NC State. It’s going to be his job to turn NC State into an upper echelon ACC team. I think it’s a good hire, and Raleigh is a place where there is potential to have a good football program. The Wolfpack are aiming for their 4th straight bowl game.

Will go 10-2 (6-2) if:

NC State takes advantage of a gift of schedule. I’m not sure NC State is a 10 win team, but pull an upset over Clemson at home, and things really open up. In the non-conference portion of their schedule the Wolfpack play Louisiana Tech, Richmond, Central Michigan, and East Carolina. They should be 4-0 in those games. In addition, they avoid Miami, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech from the Coastal. It’s a schedule first year head coach Dave Doeren, I’m sure loves.

Will go 7-5 (4-4) if:

The Wolfpack struggle at quarterback. The schedule is too easy and Dave Doeren is too good a coach for the Wolfpack to miss a bowl, but who the new QB will be is still up in the air. There’s not great talent on the Wolfpack team, so if the QB play is poor the Wolfpack will a lose quite a few games despite the favorable schedule.

Maryland 6-6 (3-5)

For a program that’s won 4 games or fewer 3 of the last four years, there’s a lot optimism running around College Park. I’m not quite sure why either. I’ll be honest I don’t think Randy Edsall is a good fit for the Terps. There was a mass exodus of players when he arrived, that Maryland still hasn’t recovered from. If Maryland does not go to a bowl game this year, Maryland fans will turn Edsall.

Will go 7-5 (4-4) if:

You are willing to give Maryland the benefit of the doubt with all the injuries at QB. In fairness to Edsall, the Terps were starting a linebacker at quarterback at the end of last year. The defense was quietly one of the best in the ACC. Of course there’s also all-world talent Stefon Diggs, who needs to touch the ball 20-25 times a game, and can score form any location on the field.  It’s not a daunting schedule either.

Will go 5-7 (2-6) if:

The bad mojo surrounding Maryland football continues. Player departures, injuries, and already projected starting RB Wes Brown will miss the season due to suspension.  The Terps have to play on the road at FSU, Virginia Tech, and NC State as well. If the Terps start the year slowly it will spin out of control, and Edsall will be looking for a new job.

Wake Forest 5-7 (2-6)

Remember when Wake Forest was the toast of the ACC Atlantic? It seems the 2006-2008 seasons are an eternity ago. Jim Grobe is a really good coach, but the overall talent level has fallen off the rest of the division. Grobe’s ability keeps Wake Forest in a lot of games, but he needs to find a way to prove the Deacons aren’t slipping into irrelevance.

Will go 7-5 (4-4) if:

Wake Forest can get off to a fast start which is possible. The Deacs open with Presbyterian, @Boston College, UL Monroe, and @Army. With a break or two Wake Forest can start the year 4-0 before a road game at Clemson. Then there are winnable home games with NC State, Maryland, and Duke. Tanner Price is an underrated QB with some ability. He just needs a little time to throw.

Will go 3-9 (1-7) if:

The offense is as bad as last year. Wake Forest was 119th in total offense.  It’s pretty simple if you can’t score you can’t win, and 3 times last season Wake Forest didn’t go over 7 points. There were injuries along the offensive line, but that if unit isn’t improved this year, the Deacs will again have trouble scoring.

Syracuse 4-8 (2-6)

Long term I think Syracuse can be a pretty decent football program, but they’ll struggle this year. No more Doug Marrone who rebuilt the Orange from some really dark days in the mid 2000s. No more record setting QB Ryan Nassib, but for those that want to dismiss Syracuse pay attention to this. In their final 4 games of 2013, the Orange beat Louisville, won at SEC team Missouri, and destroyed West Virginia in a bowl game.

Will go 6-6 (4-4) if:

They beat Penn State in the opening game. Look if Syracuse can defeat Penn State, they will start the season 3-1, then it’s hang on for dear life. The quarterback back situation is wide open, and must be resolved quickly. The good news is Syracuse RB Jerome Smith returns, and there is depth at the RB position to help ease the new QB in. If Syracuse can establish a running game, they can sneak into a bowl game.

Will go 3-9 (1-7) if:

That running game we talked about can’t get going. When your QB, best WR’s and a couple of top offensive linemen are all gone, you better be able to rely on what should be the strength of your team. If Syracuse is not able to move the ball on the ground, I don’t see how they will have much success on offense and that’s spells big trouble.

Boston College 4-8 (2-6)

New head coach Steve Addiazo has revitalized Boston College on the recruiting trail and that’s where it begins. The results of those recruiting efforts won’t be seen for a couple of years, but for the first time in years, there is something that hasn’t been at Boston College for awhile… hope.

Will go 5-7 (3-5) if:

QB Chase Rettig continues his development. Rettig has played under so many systems and schemes, you’ve only got to see glimpses of what he’s capable of. If Rettig can get comfortable in Addazio’s new offense, the Eagles could pull a couple of surprises. If the Eagles find a way to a bowl game, Addazio should be the ACC’s coach of the year.

Will go 3-9 (1-7) if:

The defense doesn’t improve. There are some playmakers on offense, but if BC is relying on their offense to out score people it will be a long season. A defense that ranked 100th last year giving up nearly 30 points and over 450 yards, must be better.

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  1. Bringing together the ACC Football Preview Posts with Final Standing Predictions. » All Sports Discussion says:

    […] Predictions for the ACC Atlantic Division […]

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