To cap off the recent ACC Kickoff, the conference’s version of Media Days, the media went through the usual process of casting their votes as to how they see this year’s ACC football season playing out. Turning members of the media into Nostradamus’ usually never turns out well. As Alabama head coach Nick Saban pointed out during the SEC‘s week in front of the cameras last week, their media is 4-17 in picking the eventual conference champion.
Nonetheless, the ACC media took their stab at it recently and the picks from each division to eventually meet in Charlotte in December for the conference crown weren’t all that surprising, yet might not be the way it actually plays out.
Probably the most obvious pick was on the Atlantic side. With many believing it will essentially be a two-team race, the Clemson Tigers were the popular pick to represent this division. With a total of 95 votes to win the entire ACC when it’s all said and done, Clemson edged out their biggest conference rival, the Florida State Seminoles.
But are the Seminoles really that far behind?
While all the attention might be on Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and the rest of the Tigers crew, the ‘Noles shouldn’t be counted out that easily. With a wealth of talent on offense with the likes of redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston, an experienced group of receivers, a three-headed monster at running back and a solid head coach in Jimbo Fisher, Clemson really shouldn’t be 80 votes ahead of Florida State in the preseason ACC race.
Now the Coastal side is a bit trickier. The media here went with the extremely safe pick of the Miami Hurricanes, and I can understand why. With 19 starters returning, it’s hard to discount the notion that this may indeed be the year that Al Golden returns ‘The U’ to prominence. Proven playmakers QB Stephen Morris, RB Duke Johnson and WR Philip Dorsett seem poised to unleash an offensive explosion upon the ACC. Under this presumption, the ‘Canes grabbed a good portion of the media’s confidence.
Again however, how safe is this pick really?
Miami’s defense has a lot to improve upon from last season, especially against the run, that not even a solid performance throughout the year from the young men mentioned above can mask. If Miami finds itself in some shootouts this season, then there is a very good chance that they won’t find themselves in Charlotte in the ACC Championship Game.
North Carolina has an experienced, talented QB back this season in senior Bryn Renner as well as a host of others from last year’s impressive squad. Their second year in Larry Fedora‘s spread offense could see the Heels even more successful than last year and becoming a huge thorn in the side of Miami and their hopes of adding their first ACC trophy to their collection.
Virginia Tech, an old nemesis of Miami from their days in the Big East (now the AAC), could also provide a huge road block. While just 7-6 in 2012, this VT team comes into 2013 determined to erase those bad memories. If QB Logan Thomas can regroup himself and return to 2011 form, they can find a running game and the defense can be more solid in pass coverage, the Hokies could essentially be another team that proves the media incorrect.
This has the potential to be one of the most wide open season’s in the history of the ACC, and that is in no way a bad thing. Parity is what has made college football as exciting and profitable as it has become.
And although I use this argument a lot and may sound redundant, I always like to remind everyone that this is the same conference that was claimed by Wake Forest in 2006.
Jack is the ACC College Football Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackJ14RS