Handing out 2014 season ending Final Grades to the ACC’s Atlantic Division Football Teams.


We’ve already given out grades to the ACC Coastal Division teams, now we are on to the Atlantic teams.

Florida State (13-1, 8-0) : A-

Florida State won the ACC, had a 13-0 regular season, and made it to the national semi-finals. Then they got rocked by the Oregon Ducks 59-20. How do you grade the Seminoles? Is that a successful season for the Noles? That type of season for any other ACC team is at least an A and probably an A+. Florida State is measured differently than the rest of the ACC, but I’m not letting one bad game define a very good season. FSU beat 9 bowl teams, and 5 teams that won at least 8 games. They were in the thick of the national title chase all year long. They did what they needed to do to make the national semi-finals, even if they weren’t blowing away teams.

Clemson (10-3, 6-2) : A-

Clemson managed to have their 4th consecutive 10 win season despite losing their two best offensive players from 2013 QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins. In addition they played most of the year with clearly the #2 QB Cole Stoudt. Their only losses were to three teams that will finish in the top 15 (Georgia, FSU, Georgia Tech). What pushed Clemson’s final grade up were a couple of season ending wins. The Tigers broke a 5 game losing streaking to their arch rival South Carolina, and then played an inspired bowl game crushing Oklahoma 40-6 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. They should finish as a top 15 team.

NC State (8-5, 3-5) : B+

NC State’s 5 game improvement over last season gets major bonus points. Quietly the Wolfpack turned into the Atlantic division’s nicest surprise. QB Jacoby Brissett was one of the ACC’s best playmakers. The season ended with a 35-7 win over arch rival UNC, and an underrated bowl win over Central Florida. The Wolfpack have set themselves up well for 2015, but expectations will be higher for the Wolfpack and head coach Dave Doeren. That said they leave 2014 feeling very optimistic about the future.

Louisville (9-4, 5-3) : B+

I think it was a successful first season for the Cardinals in the ACC. As hoped they added quality depth to the conference. They picked up a noteworthy non-conference at Notre Dame. There wasn’t a significant dropoff even with the departure of QB Teddy Bridgewater to the NFL. The bowl loss to Georgia was a disappointment, but the Bulldogs made several quality teams look bad this year. It was solid foundation building year for head coach Bobby Petrino.

Boston College (7-6, 4-4) : B-

Steve Addazio put together another solid season at Boston College highlighted by non-conference home win over the USC Trojans. The late bowl collapse against Penn State left a sour taste in the mouth, but this team had a tough blue collar identity that I like. Now that you’ve established yourself BC, I’m expecting you to get over the 7 win hump.

Wake Forest (3-9, 1-7) : C- 

Why would I give Wake Forest a passing grade after a 3-9 season? Well we knew the Deacs were going to be up against it this year. Coach Dave Clawson didn’t have much to work with, but what I wanted to see was growth during the year. I think we saw that. There was a 23-17 loss to Boston College. They showed good fight in a 34-20 loss to Clemson, and then the highlight of the year a 6-3 win over Virginia Tech. For a young team trying to build confidence, that was a big win if not the most aesthetically pleasing to everyone else. To Wake Fans it was beautiful.

Syracuse (3-9, 1-7) : D

A lot more was expected out of Syracuse this year. Once QB Terrel Hunt went down, the season was sunk. There were 8 double digit losses, and the offense broke the 21 point barrier just 1 time after week 2. It was just a bad bad 2014 for Syracuse football.

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