ACC Atlantic Division Preview: Can Jimbo Fisher keep the Noles on top?

After winning the ACC last season, Florida State is again the pre season favorite to run the table in the conference. The Seminoles are the only team ranked in the pre season poll in the Atlantic division. Maryland and Boston College are looking to give Florida State a run for their money, and Clemson, N.C. State, and Wake Forest will probably be on the outside looking in. Here is a look at my predicted order of finish and projected records for the Atlantic division:

1. Florida State- The Seminoles are pre season ranked number 5, and have 18 starters returning on both sides of the ball. Christian Ponder is gone at quarterback, and E.J. Manuel will have alot to prove. Manuel has thrown 20 touchdowns over his first two seasons at Floria State. With only limited playing time, Manuel is still hyped to be a star player in Tallahassee. He will have alot to prove in first year as a true starter. Running back Chris Thompson returns, along with Ty Jones, and Jermaine Thomas. All are expected to have quality playing time throughout the year. Last season, they rushed for 17 touchdowns. The offensive line is experienced, and every receiver is back. The defense should be strong with Brandon Jenkins at defensive end, and linebacker Nigel Bradham. If Florida State wants to compete for a national title they will have to beat Oklahoma, who beat down the Noles by 37 last year. The pressure is on E.J. Manuel to perform, and he should do fine when needed. Look for Florida State to win the division and the conference and advance to the Orange bowl.  Projected record 11-2

2. Maryland – The Terps have new Coach Randy Edsall in College Park, and things will be interesting this year. With Danny O’ Brien back at quarterback, the Terrapins will have experience. O’ Brien threw for 2,438 yards last season and threw for 22 touchdowns. The running game is weak, and Davin Meggett will need to have a strong year running the ball. The top receivers all return, and the O-line is going to be good. The defense will be strong too, with Kenny Tate at line backer. The main questions regarding Maryland will be the new coaching change, and whether or not they can truly contend to win the conference. Expect Maryland to compete for a division title, but fall short. Projected record 9-3

3. Boston College- The Eagles have had trouble with good quarterback play for the past couple of seasons. Sophomore quarterback Chase Rettig will need to step it up after having a lousy season last year. Rettig threw for 1,238 yards last year. Montel Harris is back at running back for one more run. Harris will be the key and anchor to the entire offense. Harris has nearly rushed for 4,000 yards over his career in Chestnut Hill. The offensive line will have to be rebuilt, after losing 3 starters from last year. Coach Frank Spaziani was a former defensive coordinator for the Eagles before becoming head coach. The defense should be pretty strong overall, and will need to have an impressive season if Boston College wants to win and compete for the division. With the nations top tackler, Luke Kuechly returning, it is possible. Expect the Eagles to get back to a bowl game again, but they won’t compete for the conference title. Projected record  7-5

4. N.C. State- The Wolfpack lose star quarterback Russell Wilson, but highly touted Junior quarterback Mike Glennon is taking over the reigns. Coach Tom O’ Brien will have a challenge this season. The Pack do return 13 starters and are coming off an impressive 9-4 season. Glennon has performed well over the Spring and Summer drills and is expected to have a strong year at quarterback. The offensive line will be strong and the receiving core will be better. The running game will be good with Mustafa Greene. George Bryan is one of the nations top tight ends as well. The defense will be challenged up front, but the secondary could be the best in the ACC. The Wolfpack could have a breakout year, but it may take a little more time. Projected record  7-5

5. Clemson- The Tigers have alot of questions to answer this year. After going 6-7, and underachieving, Coach Dabo Swinney will look to turn things around. Kyle Parker is gone at quarterback, and Tajh Boyd is the new man in line. Boyd is inexperienced and will have alot to prove. The offense has 8 starters returning and 5 back on defense. Andre Ellington rushed for over 600 yards and had 10 touchdowns last season. Swinney has the pieces to get Clemson back on top but quarterback play and and lack of talent defensively may hurt the Tigers chances of winning the division. Look for Clemson to have a similar season to last year, and Dabo Swinney could be out in Clemson. Projected record 6-6.

6. Wake Forest- The Demon Deacons have struggled greatly the past couple of seasons, but Coach Jim Grobe thinks his team will be better. Quarterback Tanner Price who threw for 1,349 yards and 7 touchdowns last year is expected to start again. Price will be a key to Wake’s success this year. The offensive line has been a major problem and could still be this year. The defense is loaded with Seniors, and are expected to play up to their full potential. Wake Forest still has problems and question marks, but look for the Demon Deacons to get back to being competitive this season, after embarrassing losses of 38-3, 31-0, 52-21, and 62-14 in conference play. However, wins will still be hard to find. Projected record  3-9

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