|When does basketball start?
The gnarly weather on the east coast last week dealt a huge blow to the Atlantic Coast Conference. We're talking, of course, about the fact that our editor in charge of posting "Meeting of the Minds" lost power for the weekend and couldn't publish the article. But better late than never, right?
As part of our conference previews, we're asking our writers to go out on a limb with one bold prediction about each league. Let's hear their thoughts on what will catch everyone else by surprise in the ACC this fall.
Allen Kenney: Frank Spaziani won't get fired.
During Hot Seat Week, the consensus among us was that this year wouldn't end well for Coach Spaz. (Do people call him that?) I think BC's coach is getting ready to shoot us all the bird. Well, give it to y'all, really, because I have faith in him and the boys from Chestnut Hill.
OK, well, that's not entirely true, either. I don't look at BC as a particularly good team heading into this fall, but it does have the kinds of pieces you see in solid teams that overachieve. The Eagles return 10 starters on offense, including quarterback Chase Rettig and an offensive line that is almost entirely intact. The defense lost its best player in Luke Kuechly, but seven starters return from a year ago, and Spaziani is underrated in his ability to consistently put together strong units on that side of the ball.
BC will probably go the safe, smart route and focus on not-mistaking their opponents to death. It ain't sexy, but we're talking about Boston College. It's pale and pasty and the Freshman 15 and baggy sweatshirts.
I don't think eight wins would be out of the question.
Andrew Coppens: Virginia will win the Coastal Division.
Watching what Mike London has done in taking over this program reminds me a lot of what Barry Alvarez did with Wisconsin, only the Wahoos actually had more talent to start with.
They've got a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and if they can improve the passing game, this is an offense poised to break out in 2012. UVa did rank fourth in the ACC in total offense, but just 9th in scoring. Perry Jones is a running back who's flying under the radar, but capable of putting up big numbers.
It's also a down year for the Techs (Virginia and Georgia) inside the division. Miami is facing impending doom at any point in time. So give me the stability and rising play of the Wahoos to take the ACC Coastal and surprise a lot of people on the national scene.
David Purdum: Clemson will win the ACC, and Tahj Boyd will be in New York for the Heisman ceremony.
If the Tigers can get past a visit to Florida State on Sept. 22, look out. The schedule sets up nicely with Clemson's only other road games coming against ACC dregs Boston College, Wake Forest and Duke.
Boyd, in his second full season running OC Chad Morris' up-tempo attack, will put up big numbers, especially with the wealth of big-time playmakers at his disposal.
Aaron Torres: An ACC team will play for the BCS title this year.
My problem is, I'm totally sure which one.
The truth is, looking at the national outlook, I'm not sold on anyone in particular out of the Big XII (think Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia will all end up at two to three losses), and I just can't get past the idea that either USC or Oregon is going to have to beat the other twice to be an undefeated Pac-12 champion. In the SEC, I can't see any scenario where we get an Alabama-LSU rematch in a BCS title game... even if they are the two best teams in the sport.
Which leaves us with the curious case of things in the ACC. As I said in my "Five Big Questions" piece, it's hard to really pinpoint any losses on Florida State's schedule, besides Clemson and Virginia Tech. Win those two, and 12-0 seems likely. For Clemson, the out of conference games with Auburn and South Carolina scare me, but outside of a trip to Doak Campbell Stadium, the Tigers' truly tough games are either at home or on neutral fields. (Wait, wasn't that the case last year, too?)
After picking Florida State to win the BCS title last year and with Clemson being Clemson, I'm terrified to take either one to play for the title. But I do think that right now, on July 2, 2012, one of them will be playing for all the Tostitos in the January.
That could change between now and then, but for now, that's my big prediction on the ACC.
As for the champion, I'll say... Clemson 31, Virginia Tech 21
(Eeks, did I just inadvertently pick Clemson to play for a title?)
Kevin McGuire: Watch out for the Golden Hurricane.
No, not Tulsa. Al Golden.
One thing to keep an eye on is Miami's schedule. The Hurricanes host Florida State and Virginia Tech with a bye week in between. This will be the make-or-break part of their schedule, and they do not play Clemson this season. To me, if Miami can defend home field in those two games, The U could be on its way to its first appearance in the ACC championship game.
If there is one thing I learned watching Golden during his time at Temple, it is is that his teams tend to get better year by year. Miami has plenty of spots to fill on offense after last season, but maybe that is not a bad thing.
If Miami can avoid a loss at Georgia Tech, then Miami could be a team to watch make a surprise run.
I still think this is the year of Florida State when all is said and done, but I think the Hurricanes surprise some people this season.
Regie Eller: Florida St. will play for the national championship.
If going out on a limb is the theme here, you all have far exceeded yourselves.
Clemson winning the ACC, as previously mentioned, is not a stretch. It could happen. But Clemson, possibly, maybe, sliding into the national championship game? Don't forget that Urban Dictionary has added a definition of "Clemsoning:" The act of delivering an inexplicably disappointing performance, usually within the context of a college football season.
(For the record: Clemson is a very talented team and, sans the head coach, has made marked improvements to its coaching staff overall. The ACC comes down to Clemson and, yes, Florida State.)
Let me go out on a limb: Miami will win seven games. (It won't.) Why, you may ask, is that going out on a limb? Because if Miami can find a way to win seven games with its mediocre, under-recruited roster – that is, a roster filled with players that would not have sniffed a chance to be on the Miami Hurricanes roster several years ago – then I will be absolutely shocked. If Miami wins the ACC, I will go a step further: That probably means the ACC has indeed met its demise.
I do like Andy's limb-prediction of Virginia making it to the ACC championship game; I'll piggy back on that: Florida St. over Virginia.
Spaz gets fired, Clemson will Clemson and Edsall will Edsall. Oh my.
And, finally, the team that will represent the ACC in the national championship game is none other than, well, the only team that ever has, the Seminoles.