It's good to be the King. Ask Florida State who, coming into the season, has all of the returning National Championship buzz surrounding it and a team leader, in Quarterback Jameis Winston, who is a Million dollar talent paired with a two-cent head. (remind you of anyone?)
Divided into two Divisions (the Coastal and the Atlantic) the ACC is slowly but surely jumping up the ranks, past the diminished Big Twen and even ahead of the increasingly inaccurate Big 10 into 3rd place in my conference rankings.
Handicapping the Atlantic Division is fairly easy, the Coastal? Not so much.
So, without further ado:
1. Florida State - Hard to pick against them.
2. Clemson - Lost a lot, and they have a cheerleader for a coach, but they have a lot of talent in reserve.
3. Louisville - There is not a better conference/program fit among the new arrivals this year than this one. Could surprise.
4. NC State - So middle of the pack it's ridiculous.
5. Boston College - Rebuilding. This is not a school that can just re-load.
6. Syracuse - Unlike Louisville, there is not a worse fit among the new arrivals this year than this one. Could regret this realignment for years to come.
7. Wake Forest - Better enjoy last year's memories. Could be a while before they climb that mountain again.
1. Duke - I see no reason why they won't repeat last year's run. Might even be more competitive with Florida State in the Championship game.
2. Miami - At some point, all of that talent has to play up to potential right?
3. Virginia Tech - I am a Frank Beamer fan but, his inability to field a functioning offense is troubling.
4. North Carolina - Always seems to pull a surprise in conference play.
5. Georgia Tech - Don't have the horses to contend in this conference.
6. Pitt - There are some who are predicting Pitt could win the division. All this proves is that some football "experts" aren't.
7. Virginia - Battling Purdue for worst program in major college football right now.
Conference Champion: Florida State (Receives invitation to College Football Playoff)
I think we see a repeat of last year in the ACC, with Florida State beating Duke in the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship game. I also think Florida State is a shoo-in to be 1 of the 4 teams in the new playoffs barring something crazy happening.
Other thoughts: When the predicted realignment and major-shift in College football comes (What I am predicting to be 4-16 team conferences at the top level) I really believe that the ACC is going to drive the change by poaching two teams for the Big Twen. (at this point I see that as being Baylor (yes, Baylor) and possibly Kansas State. This will open the door for Tech, UT-Austin, OU and OSU to bolt for the Pac-12 which will result in the Big 10 taking a look at Iowa State and possibly West Virginia (or, if they want to remain relevant, Notre Dame) to fill their ranks. The wild-card in all of this will be the SEC. If they decide to make a run at Florida State and Clemson, then the ACC is going to have to get creative and possibly take a look at UCF or TCU to fill it's ranks. Should the latter scenario happen I would imagine the ACC will move fairly quickly to replenish and the dominoes will start falling fast. Either way I think they are the key to the entire puzzle.