College football season (and thus the prognostication bukkake) begins on August 30th, so over the next 56 days I will be providing previews of each major NCAA conference (sorry Big East, you don’t count anymore) and the National Championship picture. Code Red will add Phil Ste-errr-his own short takes and you can bet we’ll be keeping track of this throughout the year.
ACC Coastal Divison Preview:
Might as well start with the least interesting division in the conference readers probably care the least about! This is also maybe the one area Code Red will have unintentional blindness for, being as his beloved Georgia Tech with their beloved Triple Option reside in this division.
So, let me guess. All you know about the ACC is that they play basketball well and that college football on the east coast is a bigger clusterfuck than the BCS. The only consistent thing in the conference from year to year is that Virginia Tech will lose two games early for absolutely no reason then destroy the rest of the conference just to make sure nobody really cares about the ACC nationally.
And that segues nicely into the Coastal division, which just so happens to cradle Virginia Tech ever so lovingly in its bosom. The aforementioned clusterfuck generally leads to some serious intrigue right down to the last week of the season, and last year was no exception. Virginia Tech’s early season loss was an ass-whooping provided by Clemson (23-3), who in turn lost to Georgia Tech for no reason, who in turn lost to Virginia Tech, upstart Virginia, AND Miami. Virginia Tech didn’t lose another regular season game and marched into the ACC title game to face Clemson with a chance to avenge their only loss of the season.
As we all saw in the National Championship, it isn’t easy to beat a team twice in one season. And this is Virginia Tech! They finish strong! So obviously they’ll recover and… huh. Clemson destroyed VaTech 38-10, you say? Damnit, ACC. So how does the Coastal shake out this year? I struggled through every game for every team this season and came up with a completely scientific calculation of their records, and Code Red will be happy to include Phil Steel-oops- his, point of view for the division as well. Without further ado, my completely, 100% accurate ACC Coastal division predictions:
Team Overall W-L Conference W-L
Virginia Tech 11-1 (7-1)
Georgia Tech 9-3 (6-2)
Virginia 8-4 (5-3)
North Carolina 6-6 (3-5)
Miami (FL) 5-7 (3-5)
Duke 2-10 (0-8)
Virginia Tech: Pardon me if you’ve seen this story before, but the Hokies are going to go 11-1 with their one loss coming at Clemson on October 20. I was tempted to pencil them in for a loss at home against the Ramblin’ Wreck being as that’s the first game of the season for both teams, but the Georgia Tech offense simply plays too easily into Virginia Tech’s defense. With another year of experience for Logan Thomas this has all the potential to be a fantastic season for Virginia Tech, but I’m more comfortable concluding that Tech will do exactly as Tech does. Best possible inaccuracy: Tech plays at Pittsburgh their third game of the season (Sept. 15). This is a classic setup for a Virginia Tech loss.
Georgia Tech: Are you aware Georgia Tech did not throw a TD pass in any of their final seven games last year? That happened. After starting 6-0 the ‘jackets ended the season 2-5, failing to beat Virginia Tech at home and losing at a bad Miami team 24-7. I have Tech beating Clemson again (because, y’know, it’s still Clemson) but losing at North Carolina and Virginia Tech. The whole season is dependent on game one. Best possible inaccuracy: That first game. If Georgia Tech wins that could set the tone for the whole season.
Virginia: So was Virginia better or worse than their record last year? Haters would point to close wins against FSU, Idaho in overtime, Georgia Tech, and Miami as a sign that they could have easily ended up 4-8. Optimists would point to their 28(!) turnovers and say they could have easily beaten Southern Miss and UNC to go 10-2. I think they finished about where they should have last season. Their offense should hold strong this year, while their defense has a bit of rebuilding to do. They have four near-guaranteed losses at VaTech, at GaTech, at TCU, and at NC State (What a road slate), but the other 8 games are beyond winnable with only 1 other game on the road (at Duke). Best possible inaccuracy: Their best shot at a non-Duke road win will be at NC State on November 3, but I think it’s more likely they lose a home game to Wake Forest (Oct. 20) or North Carolina (Nov. 15) to finish the year at 7-5 or 6-6.
North Carolina: This team has been through a lot. The whole Butch Davis thing put UNC into recovery mode for at least this season. Expect UNC to have a very ACC-like season. You might be tempted to think having Georgia Tech and VaTech come to Tobacco Road is a good thing, but all that means is UNC has to play evenly matched teams like Wake Forest, Virginia, Louisville, and Miami in their houses, and that does not bode well for the Tarheels. Best possible inaccuracy: I have UNC beating Georgia Tech at home in an upset; there’s a good chance that doesn’t happen. It just seems the logical choice for the strange game Georgia Tech will lose. The game takes place on Nov. 10, giving UNC enough time to take their lumps and finish strong.
Miami (FL): The Nevin Shapiro scandal, a new quarterback (or two), not to mention Miami was mediocre to begin with? This won’t be a pleasant season. Best possible inaccuracy: They will have to win one of these games: @Kansas State Sept. 8, @Georgia Tech Sept. 22, vs. NC State Sept. 29, @Notre Dame Oct. 6, vs. FSU Oct. 20, vs. VaTech Nov. 1, and @Virginia Nov. 10. Honestly, I think the biggest chance for me to be wrong here is that Miami loses at Boston College week 1 (Sept. 1) rather than them winning any of those games.
Duke: Duke is Duke, plain and simple. Do you really need a deeper analysis than that? Best possible inaccuracy: They get Miami at home for the last game of the season (Nov. 24). That may be their only shot at an ACC win.
CODE RED SPEAKS:
The exact standings will be as follows:
VT: 10-2, 6-2 Conference, with losses to Florida State and on the road at Clemson. I do believe, however, they will avenge their loss to FSU in the ACC Title game (SPOILER ALERT?). Iggins! pretty accurately summed up Virginia Tech, however. I also would love to have them penciled in for a loss against GT in the opener, but Frank Beamer with an entire spring and summer of practices to prepare his defense for Paul Johnson’s offense=not a good day for Georgia Tech.
UNC: 10-2, 6-2 Conference with losses to Virginia Tech and the standard inexplicable ACC upset. The chaos at North Carolina will make you look down on their chances, but after two straight seasons of uproar they’re used to it by now. They have a fantastic quarterback in Bryn Renner and serious experience and talent on both sides of the ball. I can’t technically pick them first since they’re barred from the ACC Title game this year, but they’re going to be very good in a wasted effort.
Georgia Tech: 9-3, 6-2 Conference, with losses to Virginia Tech and North Carolina on the road. I actually think this is Paul Johnson’s best team, as Tevin Washington is a senior, they return most of their runningbacks, their offensive line is the most experienced that Johnson’s ever had, and they manage to avoid Florida State out of the Atlantic. As Iggins! said, their entire season hinges on that first game against VT. I wish I could pull the trigger on them, but alas, I still see a 10 win season in the offing.
Virginia: 6-6, 3-5 Conference with losses to GT, Duke, NC State, UNC, and VT. Virginia way overachieved last year and is a less experienced team this year. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell they hit 8 wins again.
Duke: 5-7, 2-6 Conference, with losses to GT, Clemson, FSU, UNC, VT, Wake Forest. I think this is actually the best Duke team that Cutcliffe has had in his tenure, but they draw an absolutely brutal conference schedule and would need one huge motherf*&king upset to get to a bowl.
Miami (FL) 4-8, 2-6 Conference. Simply put, not enough talent. Never thought I’d say that about Miami.
FINAL ANALYSIS: So basically I’m riding the Virginia pony and Red thinks UNC will rebound from a 7-6 season despite being bowl ineligible. Intriguing! ACC Atlantic division analysis and championship predictions coming soon…