New Look ACC Football Power Rankings for 2013

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First ACC Football Power Rankings of 2013

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

So it is January 26, 2013...

And you know what that means...

That’s right folks!

It’s officially time to release the first ACC Football Power Rankings for 2013!!!

Whooooo hooooooo!

So what if it is like 230 days until the first game?

Afterall, it is only about 10 days until National Signing Day and you know what a crazy day that will be.

But all kidding and jokes aside for a few minutes, this is a very important Signing Day for the ACC after its best BCS and overall Bowl Games performance in probably eight seasons.

There is a lot of positive vibes surrounding the entire conference and a buzz like no fans has seen since probably the late 1990s.

Add to the mix the addition of the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Syracuse Orange this season and the red hot Louisville Cardinals and the National Runner Up Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2014, things could not be finer in the eyes of ACC Comissioner John Swofford.

(OK... so the Irish are not a full member... but they are still playing an ACC schedule of five games... so pipe down)

Also highlighting the fun for 2013 will be the fact both the Miami Hurricanes and the North Carolina Tar Heels will be postseason eligible for the first time in a few years.

And everyone knows how much that will benefit the strength of the conference.

Now if only the Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies and the North Carolina State Wolfpack can get their act together in the next few months the nation would really have a lot of ACC Football they would have to talk about.

So with all that, let’s take that first look into the Power Rankings of ACC Football.

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No. 14 - Boston College Eagles

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John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately the first year under new Head Coach Steve Addazio is shaping up to be a difficult one for the Boston College Eagles.

Addazio is one of the Top 10 hires of the 2013 season, but will have a lot of building to do to get his system up and running especially on defense.

Offensively, the Eagles will have Chase Rettig back at quarterback. Rettig threw for over 3000 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2012 and will have Alex Amidon and Spiffy Evans to help.

BC will desperately need to find a running game sooner than later if they play on shocking some folks and staying out of the basement in 2013.

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No. 13 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Way has served the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and Head Coach Jim Grobe well over the past 12 seasons.

But since the ACC Title in 2006, Wake is only 37-39 making 2013 a do or die season for Grobe.

Tanner Price, Josh Harris and Michael Campanaro are all back on offense which will help. But that trio could only carry the Demon Deacons to ta 5-7 mark in 2012.

The key for Wake will be whether or not Nikita Whitlock can stay healthy and bring some swagger back to the defensive side of the ball. Grobe built Wake’s success on defense and will have find a way to get that aggressive nature back if he wants to continue his run in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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No. 12 - Maryland Terrapins

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There is one thing and one thing only the Maryland Terrapins have to be worried about in 2013...

Keeping a quarterback upright and healthy...

Randy Edsall had like 42 quarterbacks go down with an ACL or a knee injury and actually finished the season with a linebacker in Shawn Petty starting under center.

Even with all that, the Terps found a way to always be in every game thanks to what ended up being one of the top defenses in the ACC.

This is Maryland’s last year in the conference before they bolt for their sugar daddy in the Big 10 which will created a few emotional games and wins.

But, overall, it’s hard to see the Terps competing for a Bowl Game in its final season.

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No. 11 - Virginia Cavaliers

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Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

So despite the fact that everything is pointing to this being a bad decision, the Virginia Cavaliers will start out at No. 11 in the first ACC Football Power Rankings.

History has proven the Cavaliers are the one team that kills the conference year in and year out.

When you look at them on paper and in pregame warm ups, Virginia looks like a Ferrari....

But once the games starts, you quickly see they look and run more like a Fiero...

(Google it kids...)

So to shake things up a bit, Head Coach Mike London fired his entire staff and brought in a bunch of no names and former North Carolina State Wolfpack Tom O’Brien to be the Defensive Coordinator.

Will that be enough to save the ACC, Virginia and London’s job?

Probably not...

But, let’s all hope for the best!

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No. 10 - Duke Blue Devils

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Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt 2012 was a magical season for the Duke Blue Devils and Head Coach David Cutcliffe.

Duke went to its first Bowl Game in like 50 years, it beat its rival the North Carolina Tar Heels and it came within a play or two of winning it’s first Bowl Game in like 100 years.

So what is next for the now powerful Blue Devils?

Probably another 6-6 season to be honest...

Cutcliffe has built a great program and his ability to coach up a quarterback will always have Duke competitive.

What killed the Blue Devils down the stretch and what their greatest obstacle to overcome in 2013 and beyond will be depth.

There were a number of games where Duke got out to a hot start and got up by 15+ points only to run out of gas in the second half and fourth quarter.

This is simply an area that has more to do with the ability to recruit than it does about the health and condition of the team.

Duke will have another fine season, but will struggle to make its second Bowl in a row.

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No. 9 - Syracuse Orange

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange come in at No. 9 in the first ranking of 2013 in its new home in the ACC.

The ‘Cuse had a great 2012 and seemed to be finally putting things together to look like the old grand program it use to be in the 1990s and early 2000s.

But with the departure of Doug Marrone, who is now leading the Buffalo Bills, it is hard to say how the team will respond to new Head Coach Scott Schafer.

There is no doubt the ACC needs Syracuse to jump in and make an immediate impact...

But it will probably take the Orange until year two to make a bold statement in regards to its presence in the ACC.

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No. 8 - North Carolina State Wolfpack

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Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

There are no excuses for the North Carolina State Wolfpack in 2013...

For the greater good of ACC Football, State has to be a legit contender for the ACC Title.

Not just some team that backs its way into a Bowl Game.

The Wolfpack will have the new philosophy of Dave Doeren to keep them motivated but will it be enough.

NC State is losing a ton of players on both sides of the ball and will put a relatively young team on the field in 2013.

A young team that is learning a new offense and defense too...

Doeren will have his work cut out for him for sure...

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No. 7 - Pittsburgh Panthers

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Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Panthers were a very young team that overachieved a great deal in 2012 under Head Coach Paul Chryst.

This Pitt team who wasn’t expected to do anything had the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dead to rights before their youth and Touchdown Jesus caught up with them.

So with a lot of pieces in place for Chryst, look for Pitt to make its presence felt early and often in the ACC in 2013.

If things fall the right way, don’t be surprised if you see the Panthers playing for the ACC Title.

But for now, let’s just say they are a solid middle of the pack team...

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No. 6 - Virginia Tech Hokies

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Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

There are zero excuses for Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies in 2013...

Z... E... R... O...

The 2012 edition was one of the most disappointing seasons ever for Head Coach Frank Beamer and quite frankly for ACC Football who was once again counting on the Hokies to be one of the stellar team in the conference.

Well, big things are expected out of Virginia Tech...

And how far they will go will depend directly on the arm and legs of Thomas.

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No. 5 - North Carolina Tar Heels

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

If it were not for the self-imposed sanctions in 2012, the North Carolina Tar Heels would have played for the ACC Title.

And to be honest, there would have been a great chance the Heels would have easily knocked off the Florida State Seminoles putting first-year Head Coach Larry Fedora in rarified air.

But that was not the case and Carolina returns a talented group that will look to set the tone early ACC Football is back as it faces SEC’s South Carolina Gamecocks in the season opener.

If Fedora Ball can keep the tempo moving and pull off the win, the sky is the limit for the Tar Heels in 2013 even without the services of all-everything Gio Bernard.

Quarterback Brynn Renner will have a ton of athletes to spread the field with and the Carolina defense should be a step quicker.

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No. 4 - Florida State Seminoles

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida State Seminoles are losing a lot in 2013...

Quarterback E.J. Manuel, linebacker Bjorn Werner and Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops are all gone just to name a few.

But despite the losses, it appears the ‘Noles are back officially has Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has the cupboard stocked with a ton of Five-Star Athletes ready to make their name in the game.

Plus, everyone knows you can’t win National Championships without having some problem players and right now FSU is second on the Honey Badger Award List for the team with the most arrests this offseason.

So things will be just fine in Tallahassee, Florida...

The Seminoles will not be as dominate as they were in 2012, but they will still compete for a chance to claim their second ACC Title in a row.

How far the ‘Noles go will depend on how quickly the new quarterback matures.

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No. 3 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The team that will surprise everyone in 2013 will be the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Yes...

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets...

There is no doubt 2012 was a crazy season for Tech and Head Coach Paul Johnson. The Jackets looked near perfect for the first few games, then seemed to forget how to play football, especially on defense in the second half of the game with the Miami Hurricanes.

It was a rough middle of the season, but the Yellow Jackets got hot when it counted including the big Bowl Game win over the USC Trojans.

The key to the 2013 season will be quarterback Vad Lee. This team is finally his and he has all the tools to take this tech offense to a level it hasn’t seen in decades.

All eyes will also be on Ted Roof who returns home to his Alma Mater following a uber successful season as the DC for the Penn State Nittany Lions.

If Roof can give Tech any defense, the Jackets easily become a team that will be hard pressed to lose more than a couple of games.

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No. 2 - Miami Hurricanes

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Remember in 2012 when everyone was talking about how young the Miami Hurricanes were...

Well all of those freshmen and sophomores are now sophomores and juniors who have logged enough on field play take to probably be seniors and juniors.

Add to the fact any pending NCAA Sanction is probably waved now after recent developments in the investigation, Head Coach Al Golden has his window of opportunity to show the conference and the nation the Hurricanes are back.

Again, this team is stacked and deep...

And if you don’t know the name Duke Johnson you better write it down...

Cause he has the talent to have it sketched on the Heisman Trophy.

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No. 1 - Clemson Tigers

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Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

No team in ACC Football is returning more impact players and has more depth at every position than that of the Clemson Tigers.

Yes...

DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington will be missed greatly...

But you still have Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins just to name a few that will have this offense clicking on all levels.

Add that offense to a defense that improved every game in 2012 including a great performance against the SEC to open and close the season and it is easy to see why the Tigers and Dabo Swinney will be the odds on favorite in 2013.

And there is no doubt this Clemons defense will be one of the best in the ACC...

To make it all even more exciting, the Tigers will open in what is basically a BCS elimination playoff game as it hosts the Georgia Bulldogs and Aaron Murray.

Both Clemson and Georgia are nearly identical teams that should produce one of the greatest games to start the season anyone has ever seen.

Win or lose that game, the ACC Title and BCS Berth will go through Death Valley and the Tigers.

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M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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