As mentioned in my Atlantic Division Forecast, you may have noticed that in the team previews I compiled - at great personal expense and sacrifice - I projected some wins, some losses, and some toss-up games for each team. 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 predicted overall record and conference record for each team.
I turn my attention now to the Coastal Division. OK then, I now want to divert my attention elsewhere. Let's face it, the Coastal is in rough shape in 2008. The Hokies, Hoos and Yellow Jackets should be down from where they were last year and they happen to be the squads that finished in the top three in the division in 2007. The Tar Heels, Hurricanes and Blue Devils should be better this year, but improving from a collective record of 10-26 doesn't exactly mean setting the world ablaze. Let's just get to it....
1. North Carolina (9-3 overall, 6-2 ACC)
I'm not exactly comfortable with what I just wrote above, but someone has to win this division and on paper the Heels are a surprisingly clear choice. Click on their team preview, read it and then look at the schedule - I bet you can see a division title in the making as well. But it really comes down to the Sept. 20 meeting with the Hokies in Chapel Hill. I'm picking the Heels. But if I'm wrong, then scrap this pick because there's no other way for them to get to Tampa without beating Virginia Tech straight up.
2. Virginia Tech (8-4 overall, 6-2 ACC)
I like Frank Beamer and he's surprised us before, but another ACC title this year just ain't in the cards given what he has to work with. The Hokies could still win the division if they knock off the Tar Heels on the road, but they decided to put everything on Sean Glennon's shoulders this year and that means they're really looking at 2009 and beyond.
3. Miami (6-6 overall, 4-4 ACC)
Now do you see what I mean when I say the Coastal is in rough shape? A team with a non-winning record overall and in the conference is slated to finish third in the division. You're welcome to whatever league(s) get(s) the bowl slots that the ACC won't be able to fill.
4. Georgia Tech (5-7 overall, 2-6 ACC)
Paul Johnson finished 2-10 in his first year at Navy. He went 43-19 the rest of the way at Annapolis. This season will end the Jackets' long bowl appearance and winnning season streaks, but it will also be a building block to get them out of the 7-5 purgatory they've been in for so long.
5. Virginia (4-8 overall, 2-6 ACC)
I'm a little uneasy at placing the Cavaliers this low, but it doesn't really matter since the difference between them and Miami is the fact that I picked the Canes to get revenge for last year's Orange Bowl massacre. If I'm wrong, they both finish 5-7, 3-5 so that still means no bowl for the Hoos.
6. Duke (4-8 overall, 1-7 ACC)
A 400% increase in overall wins would warrant street parties at about 115 other 1-A programs, but at Duke it just means they win four times this year. That's still progress and look for Cutcliffe and Co. to be a landmine game for many programs from here on out.
ACC Championship Game and Bowl Picks should be posted shortly. I need a drink after reviewing what I just wrote....am I really picking 66% of this division to finish at .500 or below? I suppose I am.