A few weeks ago, the SB Nation bloggers were tasked with picking out All-American teams and Heisman selections, and it led to me writing a story on why Stefon Diggs could win the Heisman. Now, we have been asked to fill out conference standings predictions, and while this is not a post on why Maryland could win the ACC, I thought I would share my bracket with you guys, to maintain transparency.
We'll start with the ACC Coastal, to keep an air of suspense. Starting from the bottom, and taking it to the top:
With Sean Renfree and his star wide-outs all gone now, Duke will have to rely on their def-AHAHAHAHAHAHA.
While the Panthers return nine starters on defense, they'll have to replace not only long-time quarterback Tino Sunseri, but star running backs Ray Graham and Rushel Shell.
5) Georgia Tech
A wild-card of sorts, they seem to perennially hover around .500, give or take two or three games. With Orwin Smith and Tevin Washington gone, there may be trouble, but Vad Lee is really good.
4) North Carolina
The Tar Heels have Bryn Renner returning for his senior campaign, but with Gio Bernard gone the offense will have one less explosive dimension.
The whole squad is coming back - quarterback, running back, top two receivers, top tackler, top sackmaster - the Hurricanes are looking pretty good.
Mike London has been doing a phenomenal job in Charlottesville, getting top-tier recruits and putting in some quality results on the field. This is the year where it finally comes together for him.
1) Virginia Tech
Sure, Logan Thomas and J.C. Coleman are back, but the real reason the Hokies are up here? Never bet against a Bud Foster defense, even after last season.
Alright, now for the fun part.
The newbies in the conference, after going 8-5 in their final Big East year, will struggle without Ryan Nassib. The Orange will have to depend on Jerome Smith to lead the offense, and while he's certainly capable, the gunslinger will be missed.
6) Boston College
After a 2-10 season and the merciful end to the Frank Spaziani reign of terror, Steve Addazio will attempt to right the ship in Chestnut Hill...next year (although who knows, a surprise Chase Rettig-star campaign in his senior season may be in star)
5) Wake Forest
So here's the thing about Wake - with Tanner Price, Josh Harris and Michael Campanaro returning for their senior seasons, they've got at experience offense that can put some points up. Add in the return of nearly all their key defenders and you have what could be a surprising season.
4) NC State
What, you thought I was going to pick State? Again? Please. The Wolfpack lose a good chunk of their offense and some key defensive playmakers, and the season finale is going to be a #BEATEMDOWN type scenario for the Terps.
Speak of the Terps! I'm not crazy enough, despite what some of you may think, to predict a Maryland conference title (or even division title) this season, but Randy Edsall's program is certainly heading in the right direction, and were it not for the AMQBHG last season we might have seen a bowl game for the Terrapins. This year, we will see that game - with the excellent wide receiving corps, the trio options at running back, a more experienced secondary and a group of linebackers with a ton of talent and playmaking ability, anything can happen.
2) Florida State
Yes, E.J. Manuel, Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and others are gone, but the Seminoles have more than enough talent to readily replace them. They have had their troubles in recent history transforming recruiting success into on-the-field success, but Jimbo Fisher seems to have found his groove - Florida State went 12-2 last year, with those two losses coming by a combined 12 points.
And then there's Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. I do not think more needs to be said.