This season, I will be continuing the Blogger So Dear tradition of weekly power rankings of both the ACC. This first installment will be the Pre-Season power rankings. These will not be projections of where the teams will finish, rather, just my personal opinion of the pecking order of the teams. Please feel free to comment and post your own rankings. I'd love to hear what everyone has to say.
1. Florida State
Week 1 (vs. Louisiana-Monroe)
With 18 returning starters, Florida State appears to be the clear leader of the ACC. EJ Manuel will provide great versatility to this offense and will make plays with his feet when plays break down. We will find out exactly how good they are when they face Oklahoma on September 17.
2. Virginia Tech
From all accounts, it appears that Logan Thomas has looked very solid in practice, and will be an outstanding replacement for Tyrod Taylor. Virginia Tech went undefeated in the ACC last season, and it's quite possible they could repeat as champions this season. They have four very easy games before playing Clemson on October 1.
Week 1 (vs. Appalachian State)
Week 1 (at Maryland)
Despite all of the recent controversy surrounding 'The U', I still believe that they are a top tier team in the ACC. They have had excellent recruiting classes in recent years, and that depth will enable them to overcome the suspensions and be a contender in the ACC.
Week 1 (vs. Troy)
Clemson returns 17 starters from last season, and looks to right the ship from a 6-7 team. Highly recruited QB Tajh Boyd takes control of the offense, and should help bolster a relatively lackluster offense from last year. RB Andre Ellington should also provide explosion on the offensive end. Their defense was #13 in the country in points allowed last year, so if their offense can improve, they could be very formidable.
Week 1 (vs. Miami)
Sophomore QB, Danny O'Brien looks to build off his phenomenal freshman season and lead Maryland to the ACC Championship. I believe, however, that this could be a disappointing season for the Terps. Expectations are quite high, and I do not believe that they can live up to them. They were very fortunate to win a lot of close games last year, and I do not believe they will be able to win as many this year. They have the most intriguing week one matchup, and it should be very telling of how their season will play out.
6. Boston College
Week 1 (vs. Northwestern)
Boston College perhaps has the best offensive and defensive player in the country in Montel Harris and Luke Kuechly. Through two seasons, Kuechly has already accumulated 325 tackles. Boston College will not wow teams with athleticism, but they just grind and find ways to win games. Boston College returns 17 starters from last season, and should be a solid team in the conference.
7. North Carolina
Week 1 (vs. James Madison)
I was very impressed by what North Carolina was able to accomplish last year despite their suspensions. They have had excellent recruiting classes in previous years, and that should allow Carolina to be able to compete in the Coastal Division. I would not be surprised at all to see Carolina finish second in the Coastal given their schedule.
8. North Carolina State
I'm not as sold on this team as everyone is. To me, Russell Wilson was their entire team. He made so many plays by himself, and I believe they will greatly miss his playmaking ability. Their schedule is very easy, so they may have a very good record, but I believe this team will be worst than last year's.
Week 1 (vs. Liberty)
9. Wake Forest
Week 1 (at Syracuse)
Our Deacs look to to rebound from last year's disappointing season. With 18 players returning, our Deacs should be much more competitive in 2011. Thus far, Tanner Price has looked outstanding in practices, and appears to be much more composed in the pocket. This week one matchup against Syracuse will be a great barometer for how much improvement the Deacs have made from last season. Given the schedule difficulty, Wake may not win many more games this season, but they should still be a much improved team.
10. Georgia Tech
Week 1 (vs. Western Carolina)
With only 12 returning starters from last season, and a new quaterback, it could be a rebuilding season for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech just has too much inexperience to compete in the ACC. They will benefit due to an easier schedule, but they are a bottom three team in the conference in terms of talent.
Week 1 (vs. Richmond)
Sean Renfree leads a very strong passing game, but outside of that, the Blue Devils are a very mediocre team. They gave up over 35 points per game last season, and it just isn't possible to compete when your defense is giving up that many points per game. They have a solid offense, but their offense can't be asked to score 40 points per game in order to win games. They could be exciting to watch, but I do not believe they will be very good.
Week 1 (vs. William & Mary)