The word just came down that we will predict an order of finish for the ACC in our upcoming Roanoke Times college football section but won’t be required to furnish records.
In my case, I can’t do the first part without the second.
Every year, I make a copy of the game-by-game ACC schedule and pick every game before the season.
Maybe once or twice, I’ve checked my predictions after the season, but mostly it’s an exercise to prepare me for the upcoming season:
Here are my predicted records after picking each game:
Clemson 8-0 (11-1)
Florida State 7-1 (10-2)
N.C. State 3-5 (7-5)
Wake 3-5 (6-6)
Boston College 2-6 (5-7)
Maryland 2-6 (5-7)
Syracuse 2-6 (5-7)
North Carolina 7-1 (10-2)
Miami 6-2 (8-4)
Virginia Tech 6-2 (9-3)
Duke 3-5 (6-6)
Georgia Tech 3-5 (6-6)
UVa 2-6 (5-7)
Pitt 1-7 (4-7)
I picked Clemson to win the ACC championship, just as I had at the ACC Football Kickoff, because the Tigers’ annual Atlantic Division showdown with Florida State will be at Clemson.
Anybody who’s read my stuff knows that I’m a huge subscriber to the home-field advantage, except when it comes to the Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry.
UVa once had a terrific record at home under George Welsh and during one stretch under Al Groh, but the Cavaliers haven’t been very good at home recently and especially when Virginia Tech comes to Scott Stadium.
You could look at what’s been going on at Virginia Tech during the preseason, with the injuries and departures, and say this could be the year that UVa ends a losing strreak against the Hokies that has reached nine games.
In two of the teams’ last three meetings in Blacksburg, Tech has slipped past Virginia 17-14 (in 2008 and 2012). In the last four games in Charlottesville, the Hokies have won by 38, 12, 29 and 38 points.
MY 9-3 PREDICTION for Tech includes losses to Alabama in Atlanta, North Carolina in Blacksburg and Miami in Miami, where a scheduling quirk has the Hokies playing for a second straight year.
I can’t say that I feel strongly that the Hokies will lose to North Carolina in Blacksburg, but I’m guessing that between that game and a Sept. 26 trip to Georgia Tech, Tech will go 1-1.
And, it’s more than possible that Tech could win at Miami, where the atmopshere is closer to a Duke or a Wake crowd than it is a Clemson or Florida State.
WOULD VIRGINIA FANS accept a 5-7 record, which would be a one-game improvement over last year and would mark a third losing season in four years?
It depends on how the Cavaliers play. Will they play intelligently, not committing gobs of penalties and not returning punts from their end zone to the 13- or 14-yard line. UVa drove its fans crazy last season.
My 5-7 prediction for UVa includes home victories over opening-game opponent BYU, VMI, Ball State, Duke and Georgia Tech. Best chances to steal a road win would be at Pittsburgh and Maryland, where the Cavaliers have won three times in a row.
I just don’t know what to think about Pittsburgh, which was good enough last year to beat Virginia Tech and even went to a bowl. My 1-7 conference record for the Panthers is a little out of whack, but they’ve got a tough home conference slate that includes Florida State, North Carolina and Miami.
THE FIRST WEEK OF the season will include some terrific match-ups involving ACC teams: FSU at Pitt, Virginia Tech vs. Alabama, BYU at Virginia, Georgia at Clemson, North Carolina at South Carolina and even Syracuse vs. Penn State at the Meadowlands.
Then, you’ve got Oregon at Virginia in Week 2, but, boy, are there a lot of clunkers.
Some of the teams that appear on ACC schedules include Alabama A&M, which goes to Georgia Tech; South Carolina State (Clemson); North Carolina Central (Duke); Bethune-Cookman (Florida State); Savannah State (Miami); New Mexico (Pittsburgh); Presbyterian and Lousiana-Monroe (both Wake Forest).
Watch out for the Lousiana-Monroe Warhawks, overtime winners over Arkansas in their 2012 opener before losing 31-28 at Auburn one week later.
Fact is, I don’t have a problem with a lot of games, particularly the onse where an FBS-conference school can help subsidize a smaller in-state school. Virginia’s early season home game with VMI would fit in that category. Same with Clemson-South Carolina State and Florida State-Bethune Cookman.
One game that piques my curiosity is a Nov. 9 Boston College date with New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M. There’s got to be a story behind that game. In fact, what I’ve read indicates that Chestnut Hill, Mass., originally was supposed to be the site when the game was scheduled last December.
It’s unclear whether this is part of a series, but since the Eagles will be flying across the country, at least they’ll have a decent chance to win against an Aggies’ team that was 1-11 last season.