Here at ASD, the prediction business is one of skepticism as it’s treated in the media today. It seems that much of a show's time is concentrated on who people will think will win a game or a division or a conference. The "why" of a team triumphing becomes unimportant but rather who’s going to win. The surety of these predictions would lead you to think that the pundits would stick by their picks and accept responsibility for choosing wrong. But they never do. The sports prediction business (the one outside of Vegas and offshore gambling) has become a wanton slew of talking heads making picks they deem to be rock solid, lead pipe locks but in truth are either following trends from other soothsayers or flying off the seat of their pants. That being said, here are the start of our college football predictions for this season and trust us, we will look back and see the jackassery of our picks at the season’s end. We will preview the BCS conferences and include the at-large recipients and then crown our national champion, which if this young site is any indicator, will then have a horrible season. We begin in the ACC, top in our list only in alphabetical order, as it looks like another mediocre year on the A Coast. Rising above (or amid) the mediocrity in our minds is Wake Forest.
I realize that Clemson is the trendy pick for their first ACC title under Tommy Bowden this year and first since the pre-FSU era in 1991. Clemson is loaded. They have a proven Quarterback returning under center, two dynamic running backs in James Davis and C.J. Spiller, and a strong defense (minus some DB legal problems). But the fact remains, this is Clemson. If any team can find a way to sink below expectations when they have the most talent, its Clemson. Hearken back to the tale of Tiger basketball this past March. They looked good, athletic, and performed well against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. Hopes and expectations were high for the NCAA tourney. Many had them as the darkhorse of the tournament. But they forgot this is Clemson. They blew a double-digit lead to Villanova and got sent packing in the first round. The fall is coming, nobody knows where or when on the schedule, but it is. Probably not as catastrophic as losing to the Citadel, but somewhere in conference they will falter and finish second, just behind the Demon Deacons.
The attribute I like most about Wake is their ability to find ways to win. Most good teams can win when things are hitting on all cylinders, but this team has had the ability in the past couple seasons to make something out of nothing. The defense returns a plethora of good talent which is perfect for defensive-minded coach Jim Grobe. When you hear him in interviews Grobe sounds so in control of all facets of his team. The defense will hold steady, and although the offense lost Kenny Moore, Riley Skinner provides stability at the quarterback position. Stability as you will see will not be a theme of ACC QBs in 2008, but Wake has one along with Clemson. The schedule also looks positive for the Deacs, with Clemson at home on October 9th, which is a Thursday night game. Bright lights, probably Conference deciding game, on the road, excuse me if I don’t have faith in Tommy Bowden.
The Coastal division should be a big pot of average this year. I do not see any team rising above the rest. Miami should be better, but a new QB and road tests at Florida and Texas A&M will most likely wilt their confidence if they lose those. Duke should be better than last year, but is that saying something? I believe Virginia Tech and North Carolina will battle for the Coastal title. Va Tech lost a slew of talent on defense, but that has never stopped Bud Foster before. Rest assured there will be more sideline camera shots of the lunch pail this year. Again quarterback is shaky in this division and it will be for the Hokies, but Beamer Ball picks a good year to be less powerful than in the past. The challenge I see coming is from North Carolina who showed some signs last year of putting it together. Then again in games like the one they had against South Florida they showed how easily they can fall apart. T.J. Yates does have a year under his belt and Butch Davis should finally start seeing results on the field. I believe if Carolina has a strong showing against Notre Dame on October 11th, then things bode well for the rest of the season. It could be a topsy-turvy year for the ACC Coastal, but I think the Hokies will prevail and head to the championship game.
Again, the ACC championship will be the fat friend in the group of attractive conference championships this season if it falls out the way I think it will. It will be Wake Forest and Virginia Tech in Tampa. That statement needs no elaboration to the unsexyness of the game. Wake will overtake the Hokies and win the BCS bid in a low scoring slugfest similar to last year’s BC/VTech game.
Atlantic winner: Wake Forest
Coastal winner: Virginia Tech
Conference Champion: Wake Forest
Below expectations: Clemson, Virginia
Above expectations: NC State, Duke
Player to watch: Cullen Harper, QB, Clemson
Game to watch: Clemson @ Wake Forest, Oct. 9th, 7:30 pm