Thursday, August 30, 2007

2007 Preview: ACC

Ah, yes, with 48 hours plus to kickoff, it's time to be a homer for one of the few times this season and talk about the men and boys of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The boys obviously refer to Duke. Although if they win this weekend against UConn, I will be ecstatic. Wishful thinking.

The say this year that the ACC is about defenses and parity. And, in the defense of parity, there really is only one clear cut favorite in Blacksburg and then just about everyone else. Seven of the other eleven teams have a legitimate shot at making the championship game, but only VTech is in position to make the national championship if they run the table.

The only way another team gets into the championship game, the way I see it, is if they run the table AND beat Virginia Tech twice. The only three teams who that is even mathematically possible all of at least a chance at winning the wide open Atlantic: BC, Florida State and Clemson.

At the end of the day, it's hard to think of a team beating Tech more than once, especially in the case of the Eagles and the 'Noles, who will have to do it in Blacksburg. Overcoming the emotional intangibles of the home crowd will make that place an even more difficult place to play.

The Hokies still have question marks. A solid ground game needs something to balance it out and Sean Glennon really may not be the QB to do it. Then again, if Mike Teel can lead Rutgers into national relevance, anything is possible.

I said that potentially eight teams could make it into the ACC Championship and I believe that. Five of them are in the Atlantic, where really only NC State (bias not included) can be counted out. On the Coastal side, GT could repeat an appearance and Miami really may turn the corner with Randy Shannon. The question I thought about for so long was how Larry Coker destroyed that team. From the 2003 Fiesta Bowl to last season's brawl was a massive slope.

I do believe in the Eagles and that is admittedly only a little jaded. I think that the amount they have been knocked off from the 10-win team that returns a vast majority of starters simply because of an inexperienced coach has been slightly unfair. I'll be in Alumni on Saturday, holding my breath like the rest of us, until those first time the offense steps on the field.

At the end of the day, though, the 34th ranked defense in the country (which was ranked that high even though they gave up nearly 450 a game in their first three contests last year) remains in tact even at the coaching position and has only gotten more experience. Even if the offense is slow to pick up this weekend against Wake, the defense should still be enough.

BC will not go undefeated because of a Thursday in Blacksburg and a legacy of falling to Miami. One of those may be upturned this year, but even at 6-2 in conference play, the Eagles could get into Jacksonville where a neutral field may be enough to get into the BCS.

Homer pick, but it just feels good to write it.
BC (Atlantic)
VT (Coastal)
BC to the Oranges.

I'm taking a posting vacation over the weekend, but Tuesday will have the week one poll, Wednesday will have our Heisman update and Thursday or Friday will be the "Three Games to Watch Outside of Chestnut Hill" weekend preview. The short version, just so everyone is ready:

GT-ND: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Who the hell is gonna QB for the Irish and will it matter against the Jacket secondary? Two future opponents for the Eagles, so this should matter even more. It's on at the same time, though, so, just don't get distracted when BC-Wake comes on.

Cal-Tenn: Saturday, 8 p.m. If you didn't see my Pac-10 preview, you wouldn't know that I have kind of adopted the Bears this season. I enjoyed watching this game last year over Labor Day, but unfortunately I was in Memphis surrounded by a massive pack of Vols fans. With the home teams reversed in California this year, the winner gets to set themselves to be the big surprise. The loser gets their hopes dashed early.

FSU-Clemson: Monday, 8 p.m. Since joining the ACC, the Bowden Bowl has had some significant impact on the Eagles. This Labor Day game replaces the Miami-FSU game that has been moved later in the season. For the Noles, it'll be interesting to see if they were able to get some good OLine play to protect the QB Merry-Go-Roud. For Clemson, it will be to demonstrate a supporting cast to the talented running backs. Either way, it's a good way to spend the holiday.

Oh ya, in case you forgot.
Wake Forest-Boston College: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. The Jags era begins.

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