Can Florida State win the ACC Atlantic?


All of us are allowed to call an audible from time to time and I called one last night.

I was going through my preseason magazines and breaking down the ACC and SEC predictions as promised. Then I realized it would make sense to go ahead and get my own predictions out there now so that you could compare them to the magazines and then offer up your own. Obviously, we’ll be revisiting all of this stuff after practice starts.

So here is the new lineup:

Today: ACC Atlantic

Friday: ACC Coastal

Monday: SEC East

Tuesday: SEC West


For those of you who give me a hard time for not putting enough ACC football on this blog, well, here is your shot. Step up and show me the level of your interest because the next two days are going to be devoted to ACC football.


To the SEC boys and girls: Be patient and be nice. Your time is coming on Monday and Tuesday.

Okay, here we go. Here is how the five magazines I use for reference picked the order of finish in the ACC Atlantic:




Athlon:  Florida State, N.C. State, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Maryland

Lindy’s: Florida State, Wake Forest, Clemson, N.C. State, Boston College, Maryland

Phil Steele: Clemson, Florida State, Boston College (tie 3rd), N.C. State (tie 3rd), Wake Forest, Maryland

Sporting News: Florida State, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Maryland, Boston College

The Kickoff: N.C. State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, Boston College


What we learned: Phil Steele has a pretty good track record of picking teams that are ready for a breakout season. That is why his pick of Clemson is so interesting. The other interesting pick is N.C. State in The Kickoff. Their ACC preview was written by Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem newspaper who, in my opinion, is one of the most knowledgeable writers who covers the ACC.  He likes N.C. State because it is the third year under coach Tom O’Brien and because the Wolfpack has Russell Wilson, who was the All-ACC quarterback as a true freshman. Dan also spends a lot of time at Wake Forest, and likes the Deacons at No. 2 in the Atlantic despite losing seven players on defense who combined for 260 career starts. One of those, LB Aaron Curry, was a first-round draft choice. CB Alphonso Smith, the all-time leader in ACC interceptions with 21, is also gone. Despite losing six starters on the defense, Florida State was picked to win the division by three of the magazines.



Florida State: There are so many intangibles with Florida State that it’s hard to know where to start. I just think the offensive line is going to be dramatically better in the third year under OL coach Rick Trickett. I like Christian Ponder at quarterback and he’ll get some help from redshirt freshman E.J. Manuel, who missed most of the spring with a broken finger. Despite the losses on defense, I believe there are finally enough good athletes in the program for DC Mickey Andrews to put together a good unit.

Clemson: Part of me wants to move Clemson into the No. 1 hole because of RB C.J. Spiller, WR Jacoby Ford, and a defense that returns eight starters and will be playing with more of an attitude under new coordinator Kevin Steele. I also like the energy that new coach Dabo Swinney has brought to the program. But Clemson has to prove to me that it knows how to win the big game. The Tigers won’t have to wait long because they go to Georgia Tech on Sept. 10.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack has Wilson and a stable of good running backs. But there are still questions on the offensive line. O’Brien is a helluva coach and if those issues up front can be ironed out, the Wolfpack just may surprise South Carolina on Sept. 3 in Raleigh.

Wake Forest: Does anybody do a better job of coaching up talent than Jim Grobe? The Deacons,  once the doormat of the ACC, have now won 28 games in the past three seasons, including the 2006 ACC championship. The Deacons also have QB Riley Skinner, who is the most accurate passer in ACC history (67.3 percent).

 Boston College: The Eagles have lost their starting quarterback (Dominique Davis) to academics which means Justin Tuggle, son of Jessie, has to step up. BC lost its best overall player (LB Mark Herzlich), who will sit out this season as he battles cancer. The Eagles have a new head coach in veteran DC Frank Spaziani.

Maryland: The Terps have their offense back on track with James Franklin calling the plays for QB Chris Turner and RB Da’Rel Scott (1,133 yards in 2008). But the issues last season were on defense and veteran Don Brown has been called in to fix it. He’ll have to work some magic, which includes replacing seven starters, in order to keep the Terps out of the cellar.


Okay. You’ve read the magazines’ pick. You’re read my picks. Now what are yours?

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181 comments Add your comment


July 9th, 2009
1:03 pm

FSU has hard games on the road. @ wake @ clemPson.

clemPson will be 0-1 after a week 2 loss to tech. but the schedule favors them down the stretch. so they will win the atl. they will get a rematch with gt in the acc champ game.

richard cranium

July 9th, 2009
1:10 pm

Very tough because the ACC will come on strong this year, no doubt!!

Agreed that FSU will be good and Klempzun at GT Sept. 10 will absolutely be a barn burner… BUT, watch for NC State as a sleeper, seriously.. Wake is too disciplined not to have a good record.

The ACC is finally coming back after sending the most to the NFL in a 3 year period of any conference… over 100.


July 9th, 2009
1:19 pm

thanks for the love tony!…..there are alot of us that love GT and ACC football……Go Jackets!!!


July 9th, 2009
1:28 pm

Tony, thanks for the ACC love. The Noles will take the Atlantic and the ACC Championship. The recruiting and coaching are finally in place for a long run in the National top 10-15 and an MNC within a few years.

Russel Wilson is scary good and the Pack will be tough as will the Tigers.

Here’s my picks for the Atlantic.

1. FSU
2. NC State
3. Wake Forest
4. Clemson
5. Maryland
6. BC

Syed Riaz Ahmed

July 9th, 2009
1:49 pm



July 9th, 2009
1:52 pm

Regarding ACC realignment…this is the easiest, most innovative resolution, IMO.

1) Get rid of divisions. Lump all 12 teams into one single conference without divisions.

2) Every team has their own fixed 4 game schedule with their 4 biggest in-conference rivals.

3) The other 4 conference games would rotate on a yearly basis with the other (non-rival) teams.

4) The top two teams in the conference each year would play each other in the ACC Championship game. This ensures that the top 2 teams play, rather than just the best from each division. A champion from a weak divion is no longer a concern with this scenario.


July 9th, 2009
2:05 pm

I think FSU can take the top spot as long as they find some receivers. They get their harder games (UM, GT, NC State) at home, which helps. NC State is a chik pick right now because of RW. They should be improved, but need another year to win it I think. Wake should be okay, and BC is full of questions. Maryland lost most of its senior leadership.

NC State

Old Dawg

July 9th, 2009
2:08 pm

If an ACC football game is played and nobody watches it, or cares to remember the final score, is it really a game?


July 9th, 2009
2:11 pm

After the reality check for my own team, I forgot to post my prediction:

1) FSU — decent backs…excellent OL. Winning formula.
2) Wake — experienced QB; forget O’Brien, Grobe is BY FAR the best coach in the division
3) NCST — still O’Brien is darn good; Wilson will win games by himself
4) Clemson — a 7-5 (4-4) team; still too thin in some places
5) BC — very good OL; lost some on front 7 on D
6) UMD — Seems like the whole team graduated


July 9th, 2009
2:19 pm

Tony, here’s my list: Clemson, FSU, NCSt, Maryland, WF, BC. I think Clemson will get stomped by Tech in week 2 but their starting QB should be getting comfortable by the time they hit the meat of their schedule (plus they get FSU at home).


July 9th, 2009
2:32 pm

I really just don’t see how anyone can pick over N.C. State for all the reasons Tony gave. Furthermore, I know Mike Glennon isn’t proven yet, but from what all the observers say, if Wilson gets hurt again, they might be in even better shape.


July 9th, 2009
2:33 pm

Who cares? It’s the ACC, right?


July 9th, 2009
2:33 pm

Florida State for sure. CJ Spiller is the most overrated player in the NCAA. Oh and Florida State will be playing VT in the ACCCG, after they romp Florida.


July 9th, 2009
2:44 pm

My Rankings:

1. FSU
2. NC State
3. Clemson
4. BC
5. Wake Forest
6. Maryland

The only ACC game I see FSU having some trouble with is @ UNC for a Thursday night game, although I do think that FSU will win, that one presents the biggest challenge.


July 9th, 2009
2:46 pm

ACC Football-12 Mules fighting over a turnip

Diamondback Blogs | Thursday Tidbits

July 9th, 2009
2:52 pm

[...] The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Tony Barnhart predicted the Terps would finish dead last in the Atlantic Division. He’s not the first and probably [...]

Who Will Ponder Throw To?

July 9th, 2009
2:55 pm

Have any of you been following FSU’s off season? They’ve lost nearly their entire wide-receiving core to arrests / team suspensions. Sure they have talent but I don’t think this is the same FSU as last season…


July 9th, 2009
3:23 pm

I guess “Who Will Ponder Throw To” hasn’t been watching FSU’s recruiting for the past 3 years to know that FSU has a lot of WR’s. Easterling may not be 100% because of injury, and 2 have been kicked off for disciplinary actions, but there are 7 other top receivers waiting to bust out. 4 of those have significant game experience. Not worried about WR’s. The secondary and kicking game are the main concerns for FSU. And with Mickey coaching the D and the top kicker in the nation starting FSU this year, those may not be concerns for long.

Hey UGADawg83

July 9th, 2009
3:30 pm

I saw your post with the turnip reference – too funny.

I was wondering if you liked apples, too…

45-42 to some “mule fighting over a turnip”

How ’bout them apples?


July 9th, 2009
3:32 pm

Clemson’s roster has some gems; but remember what it looked like last year? I just don’t see them being anything better than mediocre, like always. I like the FSU pick, I think the Noles will be a lot stronger than most people think this year. The LB corp has the chance to be epic; and the younger recievers/RB’s should step up. Wake Forest will most likely have a HUGE dropoff after losing several of the best defenders in school history. NC State will be competetive but I see them losing a few games they shouldn’t and coming up a little short of the ACCCG. The Coastal is a different story, that is going to be a battle all season.


July 9th, 2009
3:38 pm

Our reciever situation is no where near as bad as people on the outside make it out to be:
P. Parker, everyone rants about losing him for this year: last year 40 catches 2 TD
His replacement Bert Reed: last year had 23 catches 3 TD
another projected starter Taiwan Easterling: last year 30 catches 1 TD
Jarmon Fortson the 6′3 former Rivals 4 star, did not play much because of Greg Carr, but when he did he made big plays (42 yard reception against UF)
Surrency only caught 12 passes last year, sooo Parker’s got 2 legit replacements in Reed and Easterling, Carr has Fortson or possibly 6′6 freshman 4 star Rodney Smith, and Surrency wasn’t really a huge factor last year anyway……so where is the huge dropoff?…..we’ll be fine


July 9th, 2009
3:38 pm


Got 12?

July 9th, 2009
3:40 pm

The Atlantic appears to be a toss up:

NCSU – too young but good head coach
Wake – good coaching & QB play
FSU – too many distractions & no coaching by the head coach
Clemson – big holes on both sides of the ball & new, unproven head coach

I will be pulling for Clemson because I played intramurals against Dabo at Bama.


July 9th, 2009
3:43 pm

I think it’s great how UGA fans bash the ACC and talk about this “joke” of a conference….SEC SEC SEC, hahaha well Dawgys, when is the last time YOU played in the national title game? Awesome, you play in a tough conference…..when are you going to do something about it?


July 9th, 2009
3:45 pm



July 9th, 2009
3:48 pm

My prediction is m,ramble on,gtfan,saint simon,and many others will be silenced in NOV.Wake Forest will take the acc.


July 9th, 2009
3:53 pm

Notsince91, what the crap does playing in the national title game have to do with ACC? Its not like we’d find an ACC team there now would we? We bash the ACC because it is a big fat pile of crap. Before the Techies lucked in to a fluke 3 point win against us last year, UGA had an 11 game winning streak going against All Crap Conference opponents. So as you can see, if anybody can talk crap about the All Crap Conference it is UGA fans. Any more questions?

Nation-Wide Nole

July 9th, 2009
3:57 pm

This will be the most competitive division in all of CFB and FSU will win it but with a tie-breaker scenario. With a dominant running game provided by the best line in the ACC and with 3 stout backs that will shrink the number of possessions in the game and will allow the young/unproven defense to rest and regroup. In the ACC title game Noles will emerge from a slugfest with VA Tech (Noles own Hokies) with a Orange Bowl birth and that will be the beginning of the return to dominance and glory that FSU enjoyed for so long.

Clemson has not won the ACC since 1991 which was before the ACC was legitimatized by FSU and until the weak-minded tigers actually do win the ACC no one should pick to win it. NC State is a nice team with an outstanding QB but I think he will suffer a sophomore slump, that and they have a tough end to their season. Wake Forest has too much rebuilding to do and will be killed by the Noles as sweet revenge. BC is going to be awful and Maryland is soft and getting worse every year.

P.S. FSU also has the hardest OCC schedule and potentially overall based on that last year all 10 of our opponents went to bowl games. Go Noles!

Top Dawg

July 9th, 2009
4:02 pm



July 9th, 2009
4:03 pm

Defense wins championships..

FSU’s D is suspect, losing their three leading tacklers and NFL draftee DE. Clemson’s should be good.

But…if the youngsters on the Nole interior D line play well, and the DE’s get some production…FSU will be the team to beat in the Atlantic.

Nation-Wide Nole

July 9th, 2009
4:08 pm

Yes defense win championships but a controlling ground game can mask some defensive deficiencies


July 9th, 2009
4:10 pm

All I’m saying is my NOLES who play in the weak ACC, Have won a National Title (or 2) a lot more recently than your pups have in your awesome SEC.


July 9th, 2009
4:12 pm

when’s the last time you Pups even sniffed one?

Nation-Wide Nole

July 9th, 2009
4:15 pm

SEC is bigger than GOD in the south and yes most years the top team in SEC would beat the top team in the ACC, but as a whole if you held a 12 vs. 12 challenge the ACC would have the better record. Sadly though the ACC will never generate the same passion as the SEC. In most SEC cities college football is all they and that is not the case in Miami, Boston Atlanta, and Charlotte area


July 9th, 2009
4:17 pm

no teams are overpowering in the division, i’d take wake forest because i think they have the best coach.


July 9th, 2009
4:22 pm

The Florida State Criminoles.


July 9th, 2009
4:30 pm

Love these Dawg fans talkin crap about the ACC….tell me, what happened the last time yall played an ACC team??

Gimme A Break

July 9th, 2009
4:36 pm

Folks, the dubious “Mr. College Football” just plain sucks. It should be “Mr. SEC,” or “Mr. BCS.” Notice how he starts this whole article with derision towards ACC fans, kind of like, “OK folks, make this worth my keystrokes.”

Hell, aside from the humor, these reader posts have presented far more qualitative & quantitative info than ole Brainfart has presented. And he’s supposed to be the “sportswriter?” Hellooooooo?!

Folks, especially ACC or GT fans, try the BLEACHER REPORT. I, for one, get MUCH better analysis about the ACC & GT over there.


July 9th, 2009
4:47 pm

Tony, thank you for the ACC football coverage! Not everyone who lives in the South is a fan of SEC football.

With that in mind, here are my picks.

1. FSU (The o-line and Ponder are ready for a BIG year)
2. Wake Forest
3. Clemson (They’ll choke even with Bobby’s son out of Death Valley)
4. BC
5. NC State
6. Terps (Could Ralph be headed out of College Park?)


July 9th, 2009
4:47 pm

Enter your comments here

ACC football lover

July 9th, 2009
4:56 pm

With the O-line FSU will have this year, I think they’re going to put up big numbers. Their defense will be good enough to keep the other teams from keeping up. FSU will probably go all the way this year, but will still lose 4 games.


July 9th, 2009
4:56 pm

Why the heck would anyone like Ponder? Here are his stats from last year…

2008 Passing stats (minus the 2 games against Div 1-AA teams)
TD = 8
INT = 13
153-279 (54%)

He’s awful!


July 9th, 2009
4:58 pm

Predicted order of finish (this is really hard this year. There is no outstanding teams, clearly, and the coaching changes will play a major role. NC State is the obvious choice – very good coach, good qb alone will go a long way, plus team is hungry). Grobe is the best coach in the ACC (other than PJ – gets more out of a team than anyone I have ever seen). I no longer trust BB – really haven’t for years, so hard to pick them above the first two. I would have picked the Tigers third, but who knows with Dabo – probably either a really good or really bad hire, but will take at least two years to determine that. That leaves the Terps and the Eagles. It’s very hard to pick the latter over the former, with a new coach and an unproven and very young QB; the Fridge will find a way to stay our of the cellar. He better watch it, though; that seat is starting to get warm:

North Carolina State
Wake Forest
Florida State
Boston College

I think you do a great job on college football. Go ACC and THWG.


July 9th, 2009
5:13 pm

Why do ACC fans have such an inferiority complex when it comes to football? Just look at the facts and accept that the SEC is (top to bottom) the best conference in college football hands down. The SEC has the best coaches, best recruiting, biggest stadiums (that they actually fill up), best facilities, and most of all deepest pockets. The ACC is not a bad conferece and is very balanced with a lot of “decent” teams.
Yes, the ACC has had some recent success in certain matchups vs the SEC. But against who? Vandy, SC, and Miss St? Congrats. UF owns FSU and has surpassed Miami, GT beats UGA once in a decade in a wild game then follows it up strong by getting pasted by LSU (at home), which is the same thing UF or Bama would have done to them.

BCS game records…
SEC 12-5
ACC 2-9… thats solid. One of those wins came against a current team (VT) and the other was against Cincinnati…. should that even count?

Nat’l Championships in the BCS Era…


74 Dawg

July 9th, 2009
5:19 pm

Which one of these teams would manage to be better than .500 playing in the SEC? Which one is ranked in the top 25? Which one is even relevant anymore? Just curious…

u Nole it

July 9th, 2009
5:27 pm

I’d love to say my Noles will win it this year. Those who think their are off-field distractions are incorrect. Truth is, noone outside of Bowden and the his pal, the former prez, really care what happens with the NCAA appeal. It’s over in most folks’ minds whether wins are taking away from our previous mediocre years or not. Summer workouts and S&C show the team is focused and the talent is finally coming back to Tallahassee. That said, we’re 2-3 years away. Our defensive scheme and staff are in need of a serious overhaul. Until that happens, we will not be stopping misdirection offenses like GT, WF or NCSt. I see FSU in 2nd or 3rd this year, and the rest are pickem’.


July 9th, 2009
5:32 pm

Im glad you showed us some real luv TB. I also think the Noles will win the Atlantic division, not just because im a homer, but to be honest we were just two yards shy of goin to Jacksonville(Gt game) and beating VT for a second time, and going to the OB. Now its gonna be tough but I think we will be in the ACCCG with maybe 3 losses. I really feel we are being prepped for a breakout season in ‘10. I dont think we lose more than 2 games in the conference. NCST will definitely challenge us, Ball looks like he’s gonna be one helluva QB. But to be honest what scares me even more is the Clemson game because as usual one of our own home-grown has left the nest, and looks to be a very scary opponent. Kyle Parker might be the next Riley Skinner but with better mobility, I liked what I saw from him in the UA game his senior year of HS. But it was just down right terrifying what I saw him do in the spring game. I think he will be out Korn, and I think he will be the reason Clemson gains more stability in these next few years. I pray he goes off and plays baseball, lol. And why is it such a stretch for NCST to beat SC this season, I think NCST is hands down a better team than SC, SC is the most inconsistent team in the SEC, they look good one week and terrible the next…………..


July 9th, 2009
5:37 pm

74 Dawg

Wow listen to the big dawg who’s only really been consistently relevant for what the last 3-4, my mistake 4-5 years now!!! Hell it took someone from the Bowden coaching tree to show you guys what a program is supposed to look like!!! Wuff Wuff…….

74 Dawg

July 9th, 2009
5:40 pm

p.s. it is unfortunate for Tech that they are in the Coastal w/ Va Tech. They would easily win the Atlantic.

Manfred P. Mann

July 9th, 2009
6:02 pm

Who cares? Write about the Coastal.