July 18, 2010
Twelve hyper-specific predictions for the ACC season. Wrapping up the Doc's ACC Week.
• The eventual ACC champ will suffer at least two conference losses for the fourth time in six years since the introduction of the two-division format. It will also fail to put an at-large team in one of the big-money bowls for the 13th time in 13 years since the introduction of the BCS, or to put a team in the top five of the final polls for the tenth consecutive year.
• Virginia Tech, however, will finish as the league's highest-ranked team in at least one of the major polls in January for the seventh straight season since defecting from the Big East. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running backs Ryan Williams and Darren Evans will combine for more than 2,000 yards rushing for the highest-scoring Hokie offense since Michael Vick was on hand in 2000.
• The top four teams in the Coastal Division – Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech – will win at least 10 of their 12 inter-divisional games with teams from the Atlantic, and help decide the Atlantic race: Though Boston College will lose at Florida State on Oct. 16, the Eagles will come out a game ahead in the final standings by virtue of dates with both Coastal patsies, Virginia and Duke. FSU only has a shot at one of the patsies (Virginia), and Clemson won't play either one.
• Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker will give up football for a promising career in baseball, but no one will complain after redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd tops Parker's freshman totals in '09 for yards and touchdown passes.
• Miami quarterback Jacory Harris will lead the league in yards and touchdown passes and cut last year's ACC-worst interception tally (17) almost in half. He'll also cost the 'Canes a key game with an ill-timed pick in the fourth quarter.
• Georgia Tech's defense will improve dramatically against the run and allow a full field goal less per game in scoring D in its first year under new coordinator Al Groh. The shift to the 3-4 will help increase the Jackets' sack total for the season by at least 10 sacks over last year's lackluster tally, despite the departure of All-American pass rusher Derrick Morgan.
• Thanks to inevitable improvement on the league's worst defense, Florida State will outscore opponents by more than 10 points per game after averaging a 0.8-point advantage in 2009. But fans won't notice any discernible differences between new coach Jimbo Fisher's first team and the last decade under Bobby Bowden as the 'Noles fall short of 10 wins for the seventh consecutive season.
• After four years of Riley Skinner as the entrenched starter, Wake Forest will shuffle through three different quarterbacks who enter the season with zero career passing attempts between them, never settling on any of them. Junior Skylar Jones will get the majority of the action, but fail to lock down the job by the end of the season.
• Virginia will drop its season opener to a local I-AA/FCS outfit for the second straight year, forcing new head coach Mike London to endure post-game questions abut the humiliation of losing to his former school, Richmond, in his first game in Charlottesville. After the Cavs fail to win a single conference game for the first time since 1981, he'll remember the press conference as a high point.
- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.