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While the other Bowl Championship Series conferences tend to find separation at the top, the ACC has consistently promoted parity that mirrors the NFL. While that makes for excitement week-in and week-out, especially at the end of every regular season, it doesn't bode well for national championship hopes. This year, the ACC may be as strong as ever, but it once again appears that teams will simply beat up on each other.
Perennial contender Virginia Tech lost about half its starters and would have to knock off Boise State to save its national championship dreams. Miami could be the league favorite, but also has to endure non-conference turbulence. North Carolina brings back more starters than any other team, but needs to get its offense up to par with its defense. And reigning champ Georgia Tech, a bit of a surprise last year, won't be sneaking up on anyone. They are all contenders for the title - and that's just the Coastal Division. With Christian Ponder at quarterback, Florida State figures to be the favorite in the Atlantic, but as we've seen, anything can happen in the wild ACC.
Using our college football simulation engine, Whatifsports.com simulated thousands of college football games to create this ACC Preview. Team ratings, player ratings and depth charts are accurate as of July 31st. What you see in the WIS-ACC Predictions table is the most-likely outcome based on the computer simulations. The team-by-team schedules use Absolute Records, which you can learn more about below. Those same game-by-game simulations also generate average points per game for both teams.
|North Carolina State||2||6||4-8|
For this analysis, thousands of college football games are simulated, with the sum of the winning percentages of those games being our final predicted record. As can be noted, sometimes a team is "favored" (wins more than 50% of the time) in a different number of our games than the expected record shows. We list this record as the Absolute Record. The assumption of the Absolute Record is that the more likely scenario always happens. Since we know that it does not, our expected record (in the table above) is far more accurate. Also, especially since we are rounding, it is possible for a team to win a game more often, yet score the same or fewer points on average. In those cases, for Absolute Records, we always take higher winning percentage and are not predicting a tie or a win by an underdog. This is another reason why the expected records are more accurate, as the teams are so evenly matched, the game could easily go either way.
Hokie Headband HeroTyrod Taylor is back at QB for the 3rd season
"Instead of relying on their defense and kicking game while praying the offense can at least not lose games, Virginia Tech will boast a high-powered offense that, at least to start the season, might have to prop up the defense and special teams."
"The list of returning stars is a long one: Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, two tailbacks (Ryan Williams and Darren Evans) who became the fulcrum of the team's offense as freshmen and underrated wide receiver Jarrett Boykin."
"Throw in a couple of more receivers who can make plays deep down the field in Danny Coale and Dyrell Roberts, and you have an offense which could score 500 points if the line's unproven left side holds up."
- Foxsports.comAbsolute Schedule/Records
2010 Virginia Tech Hokies
|1||Boise State Broncos||67||43-35|
|2||James Madison Dukes||95||66-6|
|3||East Carolina Pirates||95||46-17|
|4||@Boston College Eagles||88||36-22|
|5||@North Carolina State Wolfpack||91||39-23|
|6||Central Michigan Chippewas||95||42-16|
|7||Wake Forest Demon Deacons||95||42-18|
|8||Duke Blue Devils||95||43-18|
|10||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||53||39-38|
|11||@North Carolina Tar Heels||74||30-22|
|12||@Miami (FL) Hurricanes||49||34-36|
"It's not just a new season at Florida State. It's new everything."
"From the coaching staff to the nutrition staff, from the weight room to study hall, and from strategy to media accessibility, this entire football program has undergone massive overhaul. As practice began Aug. 5, it was an entirely different operation."
"Of course, the most glaring change is at the top. After 34 years at FSU, Bowden is retired and traveling from his homes in Tallahassee and Panama City, Fla."
"It definitely is different," said quarterback Christian Ponder. "It's hard to believe that Coach Bowden is not here anymore."
"But there is also renewed excitement among the fan base and within the program for first-year head coach Jimbo Fisher and a revamped coaching staff that is much younger, much less connected to FSU. Large crowds formed whenever Fisher spoke during an offseason tour of various FSU booster clobs."
"Change brings optimism. Optimism brings hope. And hope creates excitement. That's where it's at," said Fisher."
- Foxsports.comAbsolute Schedule/Records
2010 Florida State Seminoles
|3||Brigham Young Cougars||86||42-25|
|4||Wake Forest Demon Deacons||89||45-24|
|6||@Miami (FL) Hurricanes||49||38-40|
|7||Boston College Eagles||86||41-24|
|9||@North Carolina State Wolfpack||88||44-30|
|10||North Carolina Tar Heels||74||33-25|
Parker's PurposeKyle Parker nearly signed with the Rockies
"Would he or wouldn't he? That was the biggest offseason question surrounding the Clemson football program, which waiting for quarterback Kyle Parker's decision on whether to play another season of college football or plunge into professional baseball."
"The speculation began on June 7 when Parker -- the first Division I player ever to hit 20 home runs and throw 20 touchdown passes in the same academic year -- was selected in the first round of the major league draft by the Colorado Rockies. It didn't end until the early morning hours of July 21 when Parker called football coach Dabo Swinney to inform him that he'd be back for a sophomore season."
"He obviously loves playing football and he's very good at it," Swinney said.
"I think he could have a professional career in football. I think he'll end up signing a (baseball) contract, but he'll go in January. In the meantime, he'll lead us to Charlotte (site of the ACC Championship Game) and finish it off this time."
2010 Clemson Tigers
|1||North Texas Mean Green||95||43-9|
|2||Presbyterian Blue Hose||95||57-5|
|5||Miami (FL) Hurricanes||39||30-31|
|6||@North Carolina Tar Heels||54||21-20|
|8||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||32||29-33|
|9||@Boston College Eagles||81||25-17|
|10||North Carolina State Wolfpack||88||34-16|
|11||@Florida State Seminoles||33||29-36|
|12||@Wake Forest Demon Deacons||91||34-16|
|13||South Carolina Gamecocks||54||25-21|
Pete Volk from TurtleSportsReport.com is our Maryland Terapins insider:
"Maryland's strength lies in their experience on defense," Volk said. "While the unit struggled last season, they are returning almost every key player, and have an immense amount of talent and depth. They are also entering the second year of defensive coordinator Don Brown's complex blitzing scheme, so they should definitely be more comfortable in their roles this season."
"Their weakness is obviously on the offensive line. Chris Turner barely had any time to pass last year, and the running backs were continually stuffed. Again, they have experience returning, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of talent on the line."
For more from Pete Volk and the Terapins check out TurtleSportsReport.com.
2010 Maryland Terrapins
|2||Morgan State Bears||95||44-7|
|3||@West Virginia Mountaineers||12||17-38|
|4||Florida International Golden Panthers||89||35-14|
|5||Duke Blue Devils||51||28-27|
|8||@Boston College Eagles||25||21-30|
|9||Wake Forest Demon Deacons||58||29-24|
|10||@Miami (FL) Hurricanes||5||19-43|
|12||Florida State Seminoles||18||27-43|
|13||North Carolina State Wolfpack||46||28-29|
Durham DevilsDesmond Scott will start at RB as a sophomore
John Watson is our Duke insider:
"A year ago the Blue Devils finished 5-7 on the season after sitting at 5-3 on October 31st after a 28-17 victory over Virginia. From there the wheels came off as Duke lost to North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Miami, and Wake Forest to finish 5-7. A win in any of those four contests would have given Duke the needed sixth victory for post season eligibility."
"We can't blow opportunities like that again. We need to finish strong and have the fourth quarter mentality at the end of the season," said tight end Brett Huffman. "If we had done that last year we would have made it."
For more from John Watson and the Blue Devils check out TheDevilsDen.comAbsolute Schedule/Records
2010 Duke Blue Devils
|2||@Wake Forest Demon Deacons||51||27-26|
|3||Alabama Crimson Tide||5||12-40|
|4||Army Black Knights||84||30-14|
|7||Miami (FL) Hurricanes||7||22-38|
|8||@Virginia Tech Hokies||5||18-43|
|11||Boston College Eagles||25||20-25|
|12||@Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||5||22-42|
|13||North Carolina Tar Heels||12||15-28|
"Georgia Tech coach Paul Johns on doesn't sound overly concerned about replacing the offensive playmakers he lost to the NFL -- running back Jonathan Dwyer and wideout Demaryius Thomas."
"His option attack has been amazingly consistent for more than a decade. With studs like B-back Anthony Allen and receiver Stephen Hill ready to take over, and with quarterback Joshua Nesbitt returning for his senior season, the Yellow Jackets should again lead the ACC in scoring. Or at least come close."
"They averaged 33.8 points in going 11-3 last year. The offense carried Tech to an ACC title and an Orange Bowl berth."
"I think Anthony can be a good player," Johnson said of Allen, a 6-foot, 229-pound senior. "We've also got some other guys at that position -- Lucas Cox, Richard Watson, Preston Lyons. I think Anthony is a very good player. I hope our production doesn't drop off at that position and I don't think it will."
- Foxsports.comAbsolute Schedule/Records
2010 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
|1||South Carolina State Bulldogs||95||66-8|
|3||@North Carolina Tar Heels||75||30-24|
|4||North Carolina State Wolfpack||93||45-22|
|5||@Wake Forest Demon Deacons||95||42-23|
|7||Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders||95||45-21|
|10||@Virginia Tech Hokies||47||38-39|
|11||Miami (FL) Hurricanes||49||36-38|
|12||Duke Blue Devils||95||42-22|
Groh-th SpurtVirginia starts fresh with Mike London at coach
"The first thing new Virginia head coach Mike London has done in trying to rebuild the Cavaliers is reach out to fans, alumni and the community. He knows he has to be a salesman in order to lift the Cavaliers back to respectability. They're coming off consecutive losing seasons, and Al Groh was fired as their head coach following a 3-9 2009 campaign."
"So as soon as London was hired in early December, he hit the road."
"I make the joke that I've spoken to the Boys Club, the Girls Club, the Rotary Club, and the Hair Club for Men," London said. "I've done all those things, from Rhode Island to Florida. But that's necessary, I think, when there's a change."
"London is hoping his openness and accessibility will make high school recruits want to play for the Cavaliers. Still, it may take a while for the new attitude in Charlottesville to pay off."
- Foxsports.comAbsolute Schedule/Records
2010 Virginia Cavaliers
|4||Virginia Military Keydets||95||46-7|
|5||Florida State Seminoles||14||24-38|
|6||@Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||5||18-38|
|7||North Carolina Tar Heels||16||12-24|
|8||Eastern Michigan Eagles||95||37-7|
|9||Miami (FL) Hurricanes||11||19-34|
|10||@Duke Blue Devils||54||24-22|
|12||@Boston College Eagles||39||18-24|
|13||@Virginia Tech Hokies||5||14-39|
Greg Barnes is our North Carolina insider:
"The most intriguing news of North Carolina's training camp thus far has been Quinton Coples's move to the interior of the defensive line as a precautionary measure."
"The Kinston, N.C. native spent his sophomore season backing up current Seattle Seahawk E.J. Wilson at strongside defensive end, accumulating 22 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. Fast forward to this past spring and Coples had assumed the starting role at end opposite Robert Quinn, while also working at defensive tackle in the nickel package to inject more speed and pass-rushing ability into the front line."
"The NCAA review of the UNC football program has clouded the eligibility of starting defensive tackle Marvin Austin, so the coaching staff has moved the affable senior to the second team and replaced him with Coples."
For more from Greg Barnes check out InsideCarolina.com
2010 North Carolina Tar Heels
|3||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||25||24-30|
|4||@Rutgers Scarlet Knights||81||26-16|
|5||East Carolina Pirates||95||33-10|
|8||@Miami (FL) Hurricanes||32||20-30|
|9||William & Mary Tribe||95||50-5|
|10||@Florida State Seminoles||26||25-33|
|11||Virginia Tech Hokies||26||22-30|
|12||North Carolina State Wolfpack||86||30-14|
|13||@Duke Blue Devils||88||28-15|
Shippin' off to BostonMark Herzlich returns from battling cancer
Bill Maloney is our Boston College insider:
"Mark Herzlich's miraculous recovery and budding superstar Luke Kuechly garner all the headlines and analysis when people talk about BC's linebackers. Yet this is probably the deepest and most talented unit of the 2010 Eagles."
"Joining Kuechly and Herzlich as the expected third starter will be Senior Mike Morrissey. The former walk-on came into his own last season and showed good tackling and surprising speed. Nick Clancy's playing time petered out towards the end of last season, but he showed real promise and was a solid tackler. Kevin Pierre-Louis enrolled early and shined in the spring game. If he continues that level of performance in summer practices, he will likely play as a true freshman. Will Thompson has been a solid, but often-injured backup and should provide relief at MLB. Darius Bagan played well in spot duty last season. Alexander DiSanzo started four games last season and could challenge for a starting spot again this season."
For more from Bill Maloney and the Eagles check out EagleInsider.comAbsolute Schedule/Records
2010 Boston College Eagles
|1||Weber State Wildcats||95||48-6|
|2||Kent State Golden Flashes||93||30-11|
|4||Virginia Tech Hokies||12||22-36|
|5||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||33||25-30|
|6||@North Carolina State Wolfpack||61||26-23|
|7||@Florida State Seminoles||14||24-41|
|10||@Wake Forest Demon Deacons||63||24-21|
|11||@Duke Blue Devils||75||25-20|
North Carolina State
"This season appears to be a critical one for Tom O'Brien and the Wolfpack coaching staff. When O'Brien was hired from Boston College three years ago, the expectation was that his reputation for disciplined football would help end the disappointing stretch of football under previous coach Chuck Amato. There's been some improvements in discipline but not in results -- he's gone 16-21 in his three years, and failed to make a bowl game in two of them. Entering his fourth year, there is considerable pressure on O'Brien to show significant progress."
2010 North Carolina State Wolfpack
|1||Western Carolina Catamounts||95||47-9|
|4||@Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||7||22-45|
|5||Virginia Tech Hokies||9||23-39|
|6||Boston College Eagles||39||23-26|
|7||@East Carolina Pirates||58||29-26|
|9||Florida State Seminoles||12||30-44|
|11||Wake Forest Demon Deacons||63||29-24|
|12||@North Carolina Tar Heels||14||14-30|
Harris PollJacory Harris needs to clean up his act in Miami
"The Hurricanes have faded down the stretch in the past two years, punctuating the end of each season with a loss in their bowl games."
"We realize that after being here a couple of seasons that sometimes you may not be able to achieve your main goals right away," junior cornerback Brandon Harris said during a mid-summer press conference.
"Harris is one of several veterans who figure to have the Hurricanes contending for their first conference title since joining the ACC in 2004."
"He is one of eight starters returning on defense, including three in the secondary. Six starters are back on offense, which is loaded with game-breaking potential at running back and wide receiver."
2010 Miami (FL) Hurricanes
|1||Florida A&M Rattlers||95||60-7|
|2||@Ohio State Buckeyes||33||25-33|
|6||Florida State Seminoles||51||40-38|
|7||@Duke Blue Devils||93||38-22|
|8||North Carolina Tar Heels||68||30-20|
|11||@Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||51||38-36|
|12||Virginia Tech Hokies||51||36-34|
|13||South Florida Bulls||86||42-26|
"The Demon Deacons are coming off their first losing season in four years, and they're looking to overhaul their offense as part of the plan to get back on track. From the outside, it looks like it could be a bit of a rebuilding project, at the very least."
"The departure of four-year starting quarterback Riley Skinner accounts for part of the reason for a return to a run-first philosophy. The quarterback competition might not be settled until a week before the season starts. Skylar Jones, who converted from quarterback to receiver for last season, is the front runner coming out of spring practice."
2010 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
|1||Presbyterian Blue Hose||95||43-8|
|2||Duke Blue Devils||49||26-27|
|4||@Florida State Seminoles||11||24-45|
|5||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||5||23-42|
|7||@Virginia Tech Hokies||5||18-42|
|10||Boston College Eagles||37||21-24|
|11||@North Carolina State Wolfpack||37||24-29|
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.