College Football Preview 2011: ACC

In 2011, I consider the ACC to be the second worst conference in the nation ahead of the Big East. There were virtually only two teams that made a difference in terms of the college gridiron landscape in 2010. Those being Florida State, and of course, Virginia Tech. On the flip side, this was a conference that displayed a few teams with losing records. And with all of the trouble and turmoil North Carolina and Miami have created, look for the same teams to emerge while the worse turn to worst. For this preview, I have broken down the ACC into two parts: the Atlantic Division and the Coastal Division. The winners of each will face each other in a showdown for the ACC Championship on December 3rd in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Atlantic Division

6. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: There is not much else to say about a team that gave up a minimum of 24 points each game of the season in 2010. Their defense was absolutely horrid all year long and never showed any sign of improvement. On average, the Demon Deacons’ defense allowed an average of 41 points per game. And when their offense struggled, which was often, by averaging only 17 points per game, it doesn’t take an MIT major to figure out there were some lopsided downers in 2010. My crystal ball tells me the 3-9 record that was suffered last year will be mirrored again this season. If this team can’t get by non-conference opponent Gardner Webb in the 3rd game of the season, I’ll be shaking my head.

5. North Carolina State Wolfpack: You might be questioning why I have N.C. State ranked so low in this division, let alone the conference, after they turned in a 9-4 record last season. Well, my reasoning is due to the loss of their former superstar quarterback Russell Wilson, who bolted for the Badgers of Wisconsin. The offensive numbers that Wilson produced in 2010 for the Wolfpack simply cannot be replaced by junior Mike Glennon. Wilson threw for over 3,500 yards and had a combined 37 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. So not only did they lose a huge production guy, the lost the dual threat aspect at the quarterback position as well. Not to mention Glennon has thrown a whopping 52 passes in his entire college career. They’ll get a break this year with Virginia Tech left off the schedule, but they stand absolutely no chance at defeating conference powerhouse Florida State. That competition will turn ugly in a hurry. Look for the Wolfpack to finish up at 4-8 in the 2011 season.

4. Boston College Eagles: This team showed some promise at the end of 2010 after winning their last five regular season games only to lose by 6 points to then #15 ranked Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. And even though the Eagles finished with a 4-4 conference record, they posted fairly good numbers against the likes of Florida State (5 point loss) in Tallahassee and while Maryland (3 point loss). Although they’ll be under experienced at the quarterback position, expect the Eagles to be led by star running back Montel Harris who returns for his senior season. Harris has posted great numbers the past two seasons at Boston College, exceeding the 1,000 yard rushing mark in both seasons. He also has had 22 touchdowns in a combined 33 games. The Eagles also boast a defense that will be carried by six seniors. Expect BC to reel off five straight wins before the real schedule starts on Oct. 8th when they travel to Clemson.

3. Clemson Tigers: Despite making a bowl appearance last season, I expect another mediocre year from the Tigers in 2011. They typically put good talent on the field but usually have a difficult time pulling out wins from the schedule. A 6-6 record in 2011 looks about right here. Quarterback Kyle Parker should improve his numbers this season after posting over 2,000 yards passing the previous two years. He needs to improve on his touchdown to interception ratio if he wants his team to be a contender. Another player on the offense who looks to be budding is junior running back Andre Ellington. While he didn’t play after Oct. 30th last season, he still ran for almost 700 yards and 10 touchdowns in only 8 games. Another supporting factor for Parker and Ellington to have greater production is the offensive line returns four seniors and one junior. They’ll be tested early with back-to-back games against Florida State and Virginia Tech. But if they can get past those juggernauts they should coast the rest of the way as they’ll face the weaker teams in the ACC.

2. Maryland Terrapins: The Terps had a pretty impressive 2010 ride. They finished 9-4 on the season including a statement bowl victory over East Carolina by 31 points in the Military Bowl. Even though they play Miami right out of the gate to open the season, they leave Virginia Tech off of the schedule in 2011, play at Florida State mid-season and finish their final three conference games against weak competition. Running back Da’Rel Scott will look to improve his rushing statistics after having a decline from his 1,000+ yard performance in 2008. Unfortunately, for Maryland, the Terps are also inexperienced at quarterback in Jamarr Robinson. He has only thrown a career 134 passes in college and is somewhat of a gamble. Maryland should end the 2011 season at 8-4 and another bowl appearance.

1. Florida State Seminoles: The Noles’ capped their ACC runner-up title with a solid victory over a talented South Carolina team in 2010’s Chick-fil-a Bowl. The loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies in the ACC Championship has left the Seminoles hungry for another title run in 2011. With the exception of the game against Clemson, Florida State put up a minimum of 24 points in each game of 2010. Jimbo Fisher was a happy camper on national signing day as he inked the nation’s top recruiting class. This was a major accomplishment for him considering he also had a blue chip class the year prior. When young talent comes around in consecutive years, teams are able to develop depth and become stronger as the season progresses. Florida State should do just that as Virginia Tech is not on the schedule in 2011. The only true road conference test they have on the slate is the fourth game of the season at Clemson. And, from an overall perspective, if the Noles get past the Sooners of Oklahoma on September 17th, they should be poised to make a run at the national championship.

Key ACC Atlantic Division Game: Oct. 22nd, Maryland at Florida State

ACC Atlantic Division MVP: Montel Harris, Running Back, Senior, Boston College

Up Next — ACC Coastal Division Preview

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *