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ACC Power Rankings. Experienced Tigers expected to rise above the pack.


SacFalcFan
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When ranking the ACC teams, three tiers are easily distinguishable. Clemson clearly leads the group. The middle of the pack must expand to accommodate 10 of the 12 teams. And then there's Duke, which remains, well, Duke.

The Tigers have, arguably, the most pieces in place to reach the ACC title game in Tampa and win it -- so long as they figure out how to come through in the fourth quarter of close games. Defending league champ Virginia Tech had a mass exodus of talented seniors and "little" Wake Forest is quietly becoming one of the conference's most consistent teams. Meanwhile, Miami and Florida State are pushing to regain respect. Here's an early preview of how the jumbled ACC might eventually shake out:

1. Clemson Tigers

What we know: Just about everyone -- 18 of 24 starters, including both specialists -- are back from last season's 9-4 squad.

What we don't know: How the offensive line will fare with three new starters.

How the Tigers can get to Tampa: Win the close ones.

2. Virginia Tech Hokies

What we know: The Hokies will have an experienced offensive line, running back and two quarterbacks to choose from.

What we don't know: How Virginia Tech is going to compensate for the loss of 21 players who comprised the winningest senior class in school history.

How the Hokies can get to Tampa: Road wins at Miami, Florida State and Boston College.

3. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

What we know: Nine starters are back on defense, including the entire secondary and every linebackers.

What we don't know: The Demon Deacons lost two assistant coaches for the first time in Jim Grobe's tenure, but they were replaced with veteran assistants who have worked under Grobe before.

How the Demon Deacons can get to Tampa: Cut down on turnovers and continue to score ridiculous amounts of non-offensive touchdowns.

4. Florida State Seminoles

What we know: The Seminoles have a favorable schedule, but FSU must navigate its first three games with a roster limited by player suspensions.

What we don't know: How the Seminoles will react to the suspensions and fare without roughly eight impact players for the first three games.

How the Seminoles can get to Tampa: The running game has to improve as does the secondary, where Tony Carter didn't have the season the staff had been hoping for. Pat Robinson had been coming on, but he is one of the suspended players.

5. Miami Hurricanes

What we know: Randy Shannon and his staff brought in a boatload of talented recruits, and nine of them are already on campus for spring practice.

What we don't know: If the recruits can help immediately.

How the Hurricanes can get to Tampa: Find consistency at quarterback and winning more than two league games this season would be a good start.

6. Maryland Terrapins

What we know: The Terps have a quarterback with starting experience in Chris Turner.

What we don't know: How the players will adapt to the offensive scheme under first-year coordinator James Franklin, and how the receivers will take to their new coach.

How the Terps can get to Tampa: Starting the conference schedule with a win at Clemson is a good beginning, and beating Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on a Thursday night would do wonders to help close out the schedule strong.

7. Boston College Eagles

What we know: The Eagles will need all the senior help they can get, and former starters Brian Toal (linebacker) and defensive tackle B.J. Raji will bring that on the defensive side.

What we don't know: How good Jeff Jagodzinski will look without inheriting oodles of Tom O'Brien's talent.

How the Eagles can get to Tampa: Start with finding a quarterback, a running back and a few guys to block for them.

8. Virginia Cavaliers

What we know: Chris Long is gone.

What we don't know: Who the quarterback will be.

How the Cavaliers can get to Tampa: A lot of last year's luck.

9. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

What we know: Paul Johnson will bring a new option offense and Dave Wommack will spice things up on defense.

What we don't know: Who the quarterback will be.

How the Yellow Jackets can get to Tampa: Reschedule. Johnson's first league game is at Boston College, followed by a road trip to defending champ Virginia Tech. Go ahead and throw a visit to Clemson in there. Not the easiest ACC welcome for Johnson, huh?

10. NC State Wolfpack

What we know: Having Toney Baker and Jamelle Eugene in the backfield together should help take some pressure off the quarterback.

What we don't know: Who the quarterback will be.

How the Wolfpack can get to Tampa: Buy tickets.

11. North Carolina Tar Heels

What we know: Quarterback T.J. Yates and receiver Hakeem Nicks should be one of the more productive combos in the league.

What we don't know: How the defense will fare under first-year coordinator Everett Withers.

How the Tar Heels can get to Tampa: Hope a North Carolina city hosts the ACC championship game in a few years.

12. Duke Blue Devils

What we know: The Blue Devils will have an experienced quarterback and a new coach with a reputation for developing them.

What we don't know: How the program will respond to an overhaul of the entire staff, and how quickly it might pay off.

How the Blue Devils can get to Tampa: The 11 other ACC schools are placed on probation by the NCAA.

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This is the year IMO that Clemson should dominate the ACC and I could see them possibly being an NC contender as well. They are soo freaking stacked talentwise. I can see BC taking a big step back temporarily (I think Jeff J gets them back to ACC championship contenders in a short time). Miami will be better, FSU will be as well. GT is a big question mark. There is no telling how they will be this coming year. North Carolina will be improved as will nc state. Heck I think duke will be more competitive with cutcliffe in charge. Should be a great year.

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This reputation of talent-laden, lofty pre-season ranked Clemson football teams is getting out of hand. Very few experts had Clemson winning the Atlantic, much less the ACC, last season. Most had FSU or BC winning the division, and some even had Clemson finishing 5th in the division. Other than the 2006 season, where a fair amount picked Clemson to win the division (and even then, more went with FSU), there hasn't been a season where Clemson was the heavy favorite to win the ACC.

As for the talent, look at the recruiting classes from 2002-2004. They were hardly top notch classes, and Bowden has done a great job recruiting since. However, it's not like he's racking up top ten classes, and they're generally around 15-20. There are quite a few teams that have burned through more talent than Clemson, with nothing to show for it.

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clemumo82 (2/24/2008)
This reputation of talent-laden, lofty pre-season ranked Clemson football teams is getting out of hand. Very few experts had Clemson winning the Atlantic, much less the ACC, last season. Most had FSU or BC winning the division, and some even had Clemson finishing 5th in the division. Other than the 2006 season, where a fair amount picked Clemson to win the division (and even then, more went with FSU), there hasn't been a season where Clemson was the heavy favorite to win the ACC.

As for the talent, look at the recruiting classes from 2002-2004. They were hardly top notch classes, and Bowden has done a great job recruiting since. However, it's not like he's racking up top ten classes, and they're generally around 15-20. There are quite a few teams that have burned through more talent than Clemson, with nothing to show for it.

With the talent Clemson had in 2006 they really shouldve pushed for an ACC championship. For some reason or not it seems as if Bowden always screws something up. That was probably yalls best chance for an ACC title.

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gamecocknfire (2/24/2008)
clemumo82 (2/24/2008)
This reputation of talent-laden, lofty pre-season ranked Clemson football teams is getting out of hand. Very few experts had Clemson winning the Atlantic, much less the ACC, last season. Most had FSU or BC winning the division, and some even had Clemson finishing 5th in the division. Other than the 2006 season, where a fair amount picked Clemson to win the division (and even then, more went with FSU), there hasn't been a season where Clemson was the heavy favorite to win the ACC.

As for the talent, look at the recruiting classes from 2002-2004. They were hardly top notch classes, and Bowden has done a great job recruiting since. However, it's not like he's racking up top ten classes, and they're generally around 15-20. There are quite a few teams that have burned through more talent than Clemson, with nothing to show for it.

With the talent Clemson had in 2006 they really shouldve pushed for an ACC championship. For some reason or not it seems as if Bowden always screws something up. That was probably yalls best chance for an ACC title.

That was one season, but the reputation is that Clemson blows it every year with superior talent, which simply isn't true. According to recruiting rankings, Clemson has pretty much been in the middle of the pack of the ACC from 2001-2006. It has changed a lot in the last few years, but even with this great class this year, Miami and FSU had better ones.

This year will be a better chance than 2006. Proctor lost his confidence midway through the season, and was never the same. Harper already has a record breaking season under his belt, and returns all of his RB's, TE's, and WR's with some new additions. The OL will be the major concern of the team, having to replace all of those starters.

If Merling had stayed, I'd feel more comfortable about the defense, but the defense has never been an issue with Clemson since the early part of the decade. The only issue on defense is the linebackers, since it appears Clay will not be back.

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clemumo82 (2/24/2008)
This reputation of talent-laden, lofty pre-season ranked Clemson football teams is getting out of hand. Very few experts had Clemson winning the Atlantic, much less the ACC, last season. Most had FSU or BC winning the division, and some even had Clemson finishing 5th in the division. Other than the 2006 season, where a fair amount picked Clemson to win the division (and even then, more went with FSU), there hasn't been a season where Clemson was the heavy favorite to win the ACC.

As for the talent, look at the recruiting classes from 2002-2004. They were hardly top notch classes, and Bowden has done a great job recruiting since. However, it's not like he's racking up top ten classes, and they're generally around 15-20. There are quite a few teams that have burned through more talent than Clemson, with nothing to show for it.

You may not agree with it, but clem your team is one of the most overrated teams in the past decade. Time and again there are high expectations that you guys don't live up to. A lot could be traced to the feeling you have more talent or because you have a bowden coaching you guys, but it's a fact that you guys have not been able to live up to preseason expectations.

http://preseason.stassen.com/over-under/all-teams.html

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview07/co..._mark&id=298040

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SacFalcFan (2/24/2008)
clemumo82 (2/24/2008)
This reputation of talent-laden, lofty pre-season ranked Clemson football teams is getting out of hand. Very few experts had Clemson winning the Atlantic, much less the ACC, last season. Most had FSU or BC winning the division, and some even had Clemson finishing 5th in the division. Other than the 2006 season, where a fair amount picked Clemson to win the division (and even then, more went with FSU), there hasn't been a season where Clemson was the heavy favorite to win the ACC.

As for the talent, look at the recruiting classes from 2002-2004. They were hardly top notch classes, and Bowden has done a great job recruiting since. However, it's not like he's racking up top ten classes, and they're generally around 15-20. There are quite a few teams that have burned through more talent than Clemson, with nothing to show for it.

You may not agree with it, but clem your team is one of the most overrated teams in the past decade. Time and again there are high expectations that you guys don't live up to. A lot could be traced to the feeling you have more talent or because you have a bowden coaching you guys, but it's a fact that you guys have not been able to live up to preseason expectations.

http://preseason.stassen.com/over-under/all-teams.html

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview07/co..._mark&id=298040

Well, the last 3 out of 5 years, Clemson has overachieved, and the total for the last five years is 0. I'm not sure what the early to mid 90s really proves since this appears to mostly be a Bowden issue with the underachieving. You know the majority of those points were racked up during the Hatfield and West years. I would imagine the reputation is more due to the fact that Clemson has a bigger and more rabid fanbase than the Marylands and UVAs out there, but recruiting rankings and NFL alumni don't necessarily paint the picture that Clemson has dominant talent to them. With the talent coming in now, there appears to be a difference, and Clemson has been a better overall program than Maryland and UVA the last 2-3 years.

The Schlabach article is bringing up nothing for me. What does it say?

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Of course I've been conditioned all of my life to hate Clemson. Eventhough we play in the SEC I can say I actually like UGA, and Ten. is okay with me too. I don't have any hate for UF and as a youngster I liked watching Auburn play. However, if Al qaida fielded a team and was playing Clemson I would only slightly lean toward Clemson.

But I think Bowden is a pretty good coach and I think Clemson is going to be an excellent team for a few years. I think they have a great shot at a BCS game and possibly the NCG.

Teams like FSU, and Miami have added quality talent and I think they will both bounce back toward where they have historically been. Wake is almost unbelieveable in their ability to win recently. Wake used to be the team that everyone (Including SC) wanted to schedule for homecoming.

If Clemson can play to their abilities next season they should be very good IMO. At worst they may be a replica of UGA last year. By that, I mean that they may struggle early if they go with youth along the line but after about 4-5 games they could be clicking. Of course they will lose the last game of the regular season though.

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