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ACC Football: Preseason Power Rankings for 2014 Season

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ACC Football: Preseason Power Rankings for 2014

ACC Champs
Jeremy Brevard - USATODAY Sports

The 2013 season was a good one for ACC football. The conference expanded to 14 teams, sent 11 of those to bowl games and won two BCS bowl games, including Florida State in the national championship game. But this is a new season, and the ACC could be even stronger than it was a year ago. Here are the ACC preseason power rankings to see how the conference stacks up heading into the 2014 season.

14. Wake Forest

Wake Forest 2014 College Football Preview Merrill Noel
Jeremy Brevard - USATODAY Sports

14. Wake Forest

Wake Forest 2014 College Football Preview Merrill Noel
Jeremy Brevard - USATODAY Sports

It could be a long season for Wake Forest, as it breaks in a new head coach following a rough season in 2013. Quarterback Tanner Price and wide receiver Michael Campanaro were the only two dangerous playmakers on offense last year. Both are now gone, so how they'll move the ball and score points is a mystery, and could lead to a winless season in conference play.

13. N.C. State

Shadrach Thornton North Carolina State Wolfpack
Joshua S. Kelly - USATODAY Sports

13. N.C. State

Shadrach Thornton North Carolina State Wolfpack
Joshua S. Kelly - USATODAY Sports

There's nowhere to go but up for the Wolfpack after they went winless in ACC play in 2013. Things will be better, but not that much better for Dave Doren in his second year at N.C. State. So much of the season is dependent on Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett making an impact, even though he has little game experience and sat out all of last year. They may go winless in conference play again, but expectations should be fairly low for N.C. State.

12. Virginia

Virginia Cavaliers: No 97 Rant Sports College Football Rankings
Bob Donnan - USATODAY Sports

12. Virginia

Virginia Cavaliers: No 97 Rant Sports College Football Rankings
Bob Donnan - USATODAY Sports

Last year was rough on Mike London and the Cavaliers, as they went 0-8 in ACC play and 2-10 overall. However, Virginia does bring back nine starters on defense, as well as starting quarterback David Watford. The Cavaliers are low on playmakers, but running back Kevin Parks will be one of the best in the ACC, which should lead to some improvement for Virginia. But whether it'll be enough to save London's job remains to be seen.

11. Boston College

Steve Addazio
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

11. Boston College

Steve Addazio
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

Steve Addazio did an incredible job last season of turning things around for B.C. and getting the Eagles to a bowl game. But the program should take a significant step back this season after losing quarterback Chase Rettig, running back Andre Williams and receiver Alex Amidon. Addazio should help keep the Eagles competitive, but wins may be hard to come by in 2014.

10. Georgia Tech

georgia tech justin thomas - daniel shirey
Daniel Shirey - USATODAY Sports

10. Georgia Tech

georgia tech justin thomas - daniel shirey
Daniel Shirey - USATODAY Sports

The Yellow Jackets were in the mix for an ACC Coastal title last year, but they sustained significant losses, especially on defense and along the offensive line. Justin Thomas should take over for Vlad Lee at quarterback, but he's not an accomplished thrower yet, which could limit them offensively and keep them a step or two below the teams that will be at the top of the Coastal Division.

9. Pittsburgh

Tyler Boyd Pittsburgh Football 2014 Season Preview
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

9. Pittsburgh

Tyler Boyd Pittsburgh Football 2014 Season Preview
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

The Panthers had a solid first season in the ACC last year, although it could be tough for them to take a significant step forward this year. They should have a solid running game, as well as one of the best receivers in the league in Tyler Boyd. However, they'll also have to break in a new starter at quarterback and find a way to replace Aaron Donald on defense, which could keep the Panthers from competing at the top of the ACC Coastal.

8. Syracuse

Durell Eskridge Syracuse
Rich Barnes - USATODAY Sports

8. Syracuse

Durell Eskridge Syracuse
Rich Barnes - USATODAY Sports

Syracuse's schedule may make it tough to exceed last year's win total, but the Orange should be a better team. They'll return 15 starters, and are one of the few ACC teams to return their starting quarterback. With a solid defense and a good running game, Syracuse should stay competitive in most of its games and at least be a middle of the pack team after finishing third in the Atlantic Division last year.

7. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech
Daniel Shirey - USATODAY Sports

7. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech
Daniel Shirey - USATODAY Sports

Virginia Tech has a talented roster that should allow the Hokies to compete in the ACC Coastal. The only question is at the quarterback position, where they have to replace three-year starter Logan Thomas. If Michael Brewer can be the answer at quarterback, the Hokies could push for 10 wins and a spot in the ACC title game. But if they don't get good quarterback play, Virginia Tech could be looking at another modest eight-win season.

6. North Carolina

North Carolina
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6. North Carolina

North Carolina
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The Tar Heels still have to figure things out at the quarterback position, but whoever wins the job will have plenty of talented skill players around him to help put points on the board. The North Carolina defense is also in good shape, especially the front 7. When you add Ryan Switzer, one of the most dynamic kick returners in the country, to the mix, the Tar Heels should be considered one of the top choices to win the Coastal Division.

5. Louisville

Rant Sports College Football Rankings: No 22 Louisville Cardinals
Jamie Rhodes - USATODAY Sports

5. Louisville

Rant Sports College Football Rankings: No 22 Louisville Cardinals
Jamie Rhodes - USATODAY Sports

The Cardinals have lost a lot from last year, most notably quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and head coach Charlie Strong, but Strong recruited well and stockpiled a lot of talent during his time at Louisville, leaving the Cardinals in good shape heading into their first season in the ACC. Bobby Petrino is no stranger to big-time college football, and he has enough talent on his roster to put together one of the ACC's best teams in 2014.

4. Duke

anthony boone duke blue devils football
Dale Zanine - USATODAY Sports

4. Duke

anthony boone duke blue devils football
Dale Zanine - USATODAY Sports

The Blue Devils are the reigning ACC Coastal Division champions, and they'll once again be in the mix to earn a spot in the ACC title game. Duke has what could be an explosive passing attack behind quarterback Anthony Boone and wide receiver Jamison Crowder. However, the Blue Devils' defense struggled last year, and without improvement on that side of the ball, it could be tough to win what should be a more competitive Coastal Division.

3. Miami

miami hurricanes entrance
Steve Mitchell - USATODAY Sports

3. Miami

miami hurricanes entrance
Steve Mitchell - USATODAY Sports

The Hurricanes look like a team that's ready to take another step forward after a 9-4 season last year. They've decided to go with true freshman Brad Kaaya at quarterback, which could produce some growing pains early in the season. Kaaya will have playmakers around him like receiver Stacy Coley and running back Duke Johnson. Miami also has one of the most talented defenses in the ACC, which could make it the favorite in the Coastal Division.

2. Clemson

Clemson Tigers Cole Stoudt
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2. Clemson

Clemson Tigers Cole Stoudt
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It'll be tough for the Tigers to replace offensive stars like Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant, but they'll likely do so with an exceptional defense. Clemson brings back eight starters from last year's 11-2 team, including defensive end Vic Beasley, who should be one of the best pass rushers in the nation this year. That defense and a few key returning players on offense should be enough to make Clemson the ACC's second best team.

1. Florida State

Florida State
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1. Florida State

Florida State
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The Seminoles are clearly the best team in the ACC heading into the season, and arguably the best team in the country. Florida State has lost plenty of key players on both sides of the ball, but it has the talent to plug in younger players without much of a drop off. With the reigning Heisman winner, the Seminoles should be considered the best team in the ACC and the country until someone knocks them off.