This is a historic year for the ACC as the league adds two new members. Syracuse and Pittsburgh, formerly in the Big East, are gearing up for their first season of ACC play. Many think Clemson is on course to be the ACC champion, given all of the losses Florida State has incurred.
Top ACC playmaker in 2013: Tajh Boyd (QB – Clemson)
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is the key to any success the Tigers will have this year. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris has a unit that is set up to make a run at the ACC crown, but all will hinge on Boyd’s play. Last year, he threw for 3,896 yards and 36 touchdowns. Expect those numbers to improve this year.
Most disappointing team: Virginia
After a 4-8 campaign a year ago, the Virginia Cavaliers are set for another disappointing season. I think Mike London’s squad will win one conference game, against Pittsburgh, to end with a 1-7 conference record, 3-9 overall.
Surprise team: Duke
David Cutcliffe has been quietly building the Duke Blue Devils into a competitive program. I think 2013 will be the year when they break through. I see them winning big games at home against Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, as well as road games at Wake Forest and Virginia. Duke will finish with a 9-3 overall record (5-3 in the ACC), which will qualify the Blue Devils for a postseason contest late in the bowl season.
Top two games to watch:
The obvious first choice is Florida State at Clemson in week eight. This will, in all likelihood, be for the ACC Atlantic Division title.
Virginia Tech at Miami in week 11 is also going to be a major tilt in the ACC Coastal Division. I think the Hokies can get to the ACC Championship Game, but they will have to go through Miami to do it.
ACC Coastal standings:
- Miami 10-2 (6-2)
- Virginia Tech 9-3 (6-2)
- Georgia Tech 7-5 (5-3)
- North Carolina 8-4 (5-3)
- Duke 9-3 (5-3)
- Virginia 3-9 (1-7)
- Pittsburgh 3-9 (0-8)
ACC Atlantic standings:
- Clemson 10-2 (8-0)
- Florida State 10-2 (7-1)
- Maryland 8-4 (4-4)
- Syracuse 6-6 (3-5)
- North Carolina State 7-5 (3-5)
- Boston College 5-7 (2-6)
- Wake Forest 4-8 (1-7)
ACC Championship Game: Clemson 41 Miami 28
Not only do I think Clemson will fulfill the prediction of many college football pundits and beat Florida State to get to the title game, I think the Tigers will win it. Miami will have an improved team, but I don’t think it will be able to knock off Dabo Swinney’s squad. The only two losses that Clemson will receive this year will come at the hands of SEC teams — Georgia (week one) and South Carolina (week 14).