College Football 2014: ACC Preseason Power Rankings
ACC Power Rankings
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Here are how the ACC college football power rankings shape up as we get ready for the 2014 season.
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1. Florida State Seminoles - What’s not to like about the Florida State Seminoles? Florida State is college football’s defending national champion, has the best quarterback in the country in Jameis Winston and return six starters from a defense that ranked third in the country. FSU is by far one of the favorites to make the playoffs and has a pretty good chance to be crowned the best team in the land for a second straight season. The Florida State Seminoles have very few flaws heading into the season.
2. Clemson Tigers - The Clemson Tigers are sure to take a step back offensively with no Tajh Boyd or Sammy Watkins, but with seven defensive starters, including Vic Beasley returning, this is still a team you have to respect. Clemson will have one of the top defenses in the ACC this season, and that’ll be good enough to compete for a conference title. The Clemson Tigers offense does have questions but Adam Humphries and Mike Williams showed promise last year at wide receiver.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels - The North Carolina Tar Heels return 15 starters from last season and should finally be ready to compete in Larry Fedora’s third season as head coach. The Tar Heels do have concerns on the offensive and defensive lines but T.J. Logan is a future star at running back and Norkeithus Otis is one of the ACC’s top pass rushers. North Carolina is out to prove this season that it’s more than a basketball program.
4. Duke Blue Devils - The Duke Blue Devils are out to make another run for an ACC title after their most successful football season in program history. Duke has the offense to get the job done with Anthony Boone at quarterback and Jamison Crowder at wide receiver. That pair helped the Blue Devils have one of the most balanced offenses in the country and average 32.8 points. Duke is now a confident team that believes it can win and will be hungry to put on a successful encore.
5. Miami Hurricanes - I know I’m probably the only person in the world who has the Miami Hurricanes this high, but I really like this team in an up-and-down ACC. A combination of running back Duke Johnson and Dallas Crawford is going to give defenses hell all season. Then you throw in Stacy Coley at wide receiver, and the Canes have one of the offenses in the country if they can just find a reliable quarterback. Miami also returns seven starters defensively, which should improve that side of the ball. Sleep if you’d like, but the Hurricanes are going to have a terrific season.
6. Virginia Tech Hokies - One thing that remains a constant under Virginia Tech is its defense, and that likely isn’t going to change this season. The Virginia Tech Hokies will once again have a respectable defense and are coached well year after year, which gives them a fighting chance in this conference. However, the Hokies have to find an offensive identity along with a starting quarterback. I have a ton of respect for head coach Frank Beamer and his staff which explains this ranking, but unless the Hokies can score points, it’s going to be another long year for VT.
7. Louisville Cardinals - I have no idea what to expect from the Louisville Cardinals with no Charlie Strong at head coach and no Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Louisville still has some solid pieces in place such as DeVante Parker, Dominique Brown and Lorenzo Mauldin. However, this is a new conference, the Cardinals do have a new head coach and there are certainly going to be growing pains along the way. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Louisville Cardinals have to prove they can hang with the big boys before being crowned as a contender.
8. Pittsburgh Panthers - The Pittsburgh Panthers lost their starting quarterback and top defensive player in Aaron Donald. Even with those loss, the Pitt Panthers should be decent enough to contend for a bowl game. Chad Voytik has potential at quarterback and Tyler Boyd is one of the most explosive offensive players in the ACC. It’s going to be interesting to see how Pittsburgh’s offense holds things together this season with its top playmaker gone.
9. Syracuse Orange - The Syracuse Orange return 15 starters from last season, which opens the door for a lot of optimism. Although if the Orange are really going to build on last year’s seven wins, Terrel Hunt has to become a more consistent passer. Syracuse finished last season with a passing offense that ranked 105th in the country. Not good enough. The Syracuse Orange have potential this season but truly, what team doesn’t this team of year?
10. Virginia Cavaliers - The Virginia Cavaliers also return 15 starters including 1,000-yard rusher Kevin Parks, two experienced quarterbacks and nine starters on the defensive side of the ball. How can Virginia not improve from a year ago? Well, head coach Mike London has kind of underachieved with his team and won just two games last season. On paper the Virginia Cavaliers should turn things around but the problem is the game is played on the field and not looseleaf.
11. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - Georgia Tech is always a team I pay attention to during the season because that triple-option is a pain in the behind to stop. However, the problem is that the Yellow Jackets don’t have a quarterback and return just five starters from a defense that carried the team last season. A young Georgia Tech team running a complex scheme doesn’t sound very promising.
12. North Carolina State Wolfpack - The North Carolina State Wolfpack have their quarterback in Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett, but it’s going to take more than that for them to get the ball rolling. NC State was winless in ACC play last season and had an offense that ranked 99th in the country in points scored. Things could get ugly for the Wolfpack once they enter conference play.
13. Boston College Eagles - Last season was wonderful for the Boston College Eagles, as they clinched a bowl game for the first time since 2010. The honeymoon is over for Boston College now that workhorse Andre Williams is no longer doing all of the heavy lifting. Williams topped 2,000 rushing yards last season and pretty much put the Eagles on his back. It’s going to be a tough season for BC now that he’s no longer in the picture.
14. Wake Forest Demon Deacons - The Wake Forest Demon Deacons return just five starters on each side of the ball and has a new head coach in Dave Clawson. Things could eventually turnaround for Wake Forest, but it won’t be this season.