You've read the team previews (at least I hope you have because I sure as hell ain't repeating them here). You may have noticed that in those previews I projected some wins, some losses, and some toss-up games. In order for me to make a reasonable prediction for the divisions as a whole, I went ahead and loosely picked the toss-ups so I could come up with a projected overall record and conference record for each team.
First up to bat is the brutal Atlantic Division. And by brutal I mean that the two best teams in the league reside here and going further out than that, five of the top seven teams in the ACC are here. So yeah, brutal.
1. Clemson (10-2 overall, 6-2 ACC)
I know, zero points for originality. But this is the most talented ACC roster since Florida State 2000. Unfortunately, Tommy Bowden as head coach will mean two regular season losses when about three dozen other coaches would run the table with this team. Nonetheless, Tiger faithful should starting searching for vacation packages to Tampa in early December.
2. Wake Forest (9-3 overall, 5-3 ACC)
The Thursday-nighter with Clemson will decide the division, and I've pegged the Tigers to take it. Wake will lose twice more in conference because they typically play to the level of their competition - that's their style, but it'll bite 'em.
3. Florida State (8-4 overall, 5-3 ACC)
It's a long slog back to the top, but the Noles are on their way. 3-5 in the ACC in '06, 4-4 in '07, 5-3 this year. They're on the right track, but they will have a gigantic whiskey-tango-foxtrot loss sometime this season as well.
4. Boston College (8-4 overall, 4-4 ACC)
This is where BC would've finished last year without the two Matt Ryan magic moments at Virginia Tech and Clemson. Matt Ryan is gone. So here they sit.
5. Maryland (7-5 overall, 4-4 ACC)
I had Maryland teetering on a 2nd place finish in the division until four words were uttered by Terp coaches last week: Jordan Steffy, starting quarterback. I understand that behind-the-scenes issues have a lot to do with these kinds of decisions, but that doesn't change the fact that on Saturday afternoons, Chris Turner is a better QB than Steffy. Much better. As in two games in overall record better.
6. N.C. State (4-8 overall, 2-6 ACC)
The decision to name Russell Wilson as starting quarterback makes the Wolfpack worse at the beginning of the year but probably better as the season goes along. Daniel Evans would have gotten the Pack this same record, but in a different way and State would then be less stable heading into 2009. But let's not sugarcoat it - the Pack will look pretty damn awful for the first few games, so I'd advise you not to watch.
The Coastal Division forecast will be up shortly. In the meantime, grab a beer and fire away at these picks.