While the ACC as a whole isn’t on the same level as the SEC, thanks to Florida State they were able to put an end to their streak of 7 straight titles. The Seminoles defeated Auburn 34-31 in thrilling fashion to complete a perfect 14-0 season. With Clemson finishing the year ranked #7 in the AP poll, it gave the ACC two teams inside the Top 10.
The conference as a whole is clearly on the rise. Last year the ACC sent a record 11-teams to a bowl games and this year will be replacing Maryland with a Louisville team that has gone 23-3 over the last two seasons. The ACC posted a 41-15 record against other conferences. While they were just 8-9 versus the other BCS conferences, that’s a pretty big jump from last year’s 6-17 mark.
Here’s a quick look at how I see both the Atlantic and Coastal shaping up in 2014. For a more in-depth look at each team, click on the link over their team name in the more predictions section at the bottom of the article.
% Chance to Win the ACC Based on Current Odds
Calculated using Odds to Win the ACC at 5Dimes
ACC Atlantic Standings
ACC Atlantic Predictions
Last year the Seminoles made easy work of the rest of the conference. The closest they came to losing inside the ACC was a 48-34 road win over Boston College. While their entire season was a thing of beauty, the most impressive thing was how they destroyed the other top teams in the ACC. The Seminoles defeated a ranked Maryland team 63-0, went on the road and destroyed then No.3 Clemson 51-14, crushed then No. 7 Miami 41-14 and embarrassed No. 20 Duke in the Championship Game 45-7.
While I don’t this year’s Florida State team is as good as the one that won it all in 2013, there’s no way I’m not picking them to win the Coastal. Clemson has to replace their all-time leading passer in Tajh Boyd and their all-time leading receiver in Sammy Watkins, while Louisville loses three 1st round NFL draft picks, including star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
As for the rest of the conference, none of them pose a threat to the Seminoles. Syracuse has a decent amount of talent coming back, but they weren’t far from finishing with a losing record. Boston College on the other hand loses a lot, most notably all-time leading rusher Andre Williams and all-time leading receiver Alex Amidon. Wake Forest also looks to be down with the departure of long-time head coach Jim Grobe.
Of the teams picked to finish in the bottom half, the one that has the potential to surprise is NC State, who didn’t win a single conference game last year. The Wolfpack get back 14 starters from last year and will be adding in Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. Of all the teams in the Atlantic, NC State should be the most improved.
ACC Coastal Standings
ACC Coastal Predictions
Overshadowed by Florida State’s dominant run to the title, was the fact that Duke won the Coastal and finished the year with a school-record 10 wins. It was truly a remarkable accomplishment. Were talking about a team that won a total of 4 games from 2004 to 2007 with a 1-31 record inside the ACC. While head coach David Cutcliffe received several Coach of the Year awards last year, I still don’t think a lot people understand just what he’s been able to accomplish.
Not to take anything away from what the Blue Devils did, but they it’s not like they ran away with the division. They finished just 1-game ahead of Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia Tech and were fortunate that both the Hokies and Hurricanes collapsed down the stretch.
The Coastal looks to be just as competitive in 2014. While I believe it will be North Carolina that finishes at the top, you could make a strong argument for Miami, Virgina Tech and Duke. When it came down to it, I based my predictions on which team has the most talent on their roster and I have the Tar Heels rated just slightly ahead of the Hurricanes.
Those that think Duke has no shot at repeating may want to take a closer look at their schedule. The Blue Devils avoid playing Florida State, Clemson and Louisville out of the Atlantic and get both Virginia Tech and North Carolina at home.
As for the bottom three teams in the Coastal, I’m expecting Georgia Tech to take a noticeable step back. The Yellow Jackets haven’t finished outside the top 3 in the division in 6 years, but I expect that streak to come to an end with just 10 starters back. Pittsburgh’s defense will keep them from improving in their second season inside the league, while a brutal schedule will have the Cavaliers at the bottom of the Coastal for a third consecutive season.
ACC Championship Game: Florida State defeats North Carolina
|Boston College||Clemson||Florida State||Louisville|
|NC State||Syracuse||Wake Forest|
|Duke||Georgia Tech||Miami||North Carolina|
|ACC||Big 12||American Athletic||Big Ten|
|Conference USA||Independents||MAC||Mountain West|
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