As we continue to make our way through the off-season, all the teams of the major conferences make their preparations for 2014. The Atlantic Coastal Conference had several teams who had a successful year.
The Florida State Seminoles returned to the top of college football, ending the eight year national title streak the SEC enjoyed.
Clemson, and a surprise in the Duke Blue Devils, round up the top three of the ACC from 2013. Of those three, only Duke lost their bowl game in a thriller against the Texas A&M Aggies. Clemson defeated Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.
There were multiple teams who were above the .500 mark during the year. Top to bottom, the ACC could have arguably been one of the best stacked conferences in football this past year. The following was the final ACC standings of the 2013-14 season.
- Florida State 14-0 (8-0)
- Clemson 11-2 (7-1)
- Syracuse 7-6 (4-4)
- Boston College 7-6 (4-4)
- Maryland 7-6 (3-5)* Replaced by Louisville. Maryland Leaving for Big 10 conference
- Wake Forest 4-8 (2-6)
- North Carolina State 3-9 (0-8)
- Duke 10-4 (6-2)
- Miami 9-4 (5-3)
- Virginia Tech 8-5 (5-3)
- Georgia Tech 7-6 (5-3)
- North Carolina 7-6 (4-4)
- Pittsburgh 7-6 (3-5)
- Virginia 2-10 (0-8)
The ACC is expected to be successful in 2014, but the league isn’t not surrounded by questions. There have been major shifts in the conference alignment and coaching changes.
One of the biggest questions is the Louisville Cardinals. They replace Maryland this year as the newest member of the ACC. They themselves, are in quite a bit of change and upheaval.
Charlie Strong left for the University of Texas. Bobby Petrino, returns for a second run as Louisville’s head coach after his infamous motorcycle scandal in Fayetteville that cost him his job at Arkansas.
Louisville also has to replace their star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who left the school for the NFL. How effective Petrino will be in the ACC his first season back with the Cardinals remains to be seen.
Florida State also lost their Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, but promoted with in, with linebackers coach Charles Kelly taking over the reigns of the defense.
Clemson, another top competitor in 2013, lost senior quarterback Tahj Boyd, as well as recievers Sammy Watkins and Martivis Bryant.
Multiple teams have lost star players, recruiting success, which this goes with out saying, is important.
The ACC only had one team in the top 10 of recruiting, and three teams in the top 20. Of course, the number of “stars” a recruit has isn’t always what measures a player, but what they end up giving a team on the field. But of course, having the players who can perform early, are always welcome to any football team. The national rankings for recruiting in the ACC went like this:
- Florida State – 4th
- Miami – 12th
- Clemson – 13th
- North Carolina – 23rd
- Virginia Tech – 25th
- North Carolina State – 30th
- Louisville – 40th
- Virginia – 41st
- Boston College – 42nd
- Pittsburgh – 44th
- Georgia Tech – 47th
- Syracuse – 51st
- Duke – 58th
- Wake Forest – 59th
The ACC has teams that will continue to have difficulties in the league next season. The teams that I feel will continue to struggle will be Virginia, Wake Forest, and North Carolina State, due to their non-conference schedules. Also, how their home and away games are set up, doesn’t help either.
If North Carolina State continues to have decent level recruiting classes, they should be able to start having success in the years to come. Though Wolfpack fans, that is not to say that NC State wont be able to improve this coming season. They have the best chance of demonstrating improvement of the teams at the bottom of the ACC a year ago.
Duke had success last season, though they ranked near 60th in recruiting, 17 starters from the 10 win team are returning. That will give Duke time to develop these players, into valuable playmakers, which will help with that recruiting ranking as they continue to have success.
Louisville, at least in the short term, will not have the same success as previous seasons.
Florida State, is the team most likely to go undefeated, however, they also have arguably one of the toughest non-conference schedules in football. They open up against the Big 12 when they face Oklahoma State on a neutral site.
In Week Eight, they take on Notre Dame, and the final week of the season, Florida State takes on in-state rival Florida. Fortunately, both Notre Dame and Florida, are home games. Miami, could very well be the team the ruins everything for Flordia State during conference play.
My prediction for the ACC championship for the 2014 season is as follows. Like 2013 season, Miami and Duke will competing to represent the Coastal Division. Unlike last year, Miami will get the upper hand. Florida State (12-0) v Miami (9-3) with FSU winning the conference title, and being named one of four play off teams.