Today, Robert Thorne weighs in on how he thinks the Tigers will finish up the 2003 season. From Rhymer to Thorne, CUTigers.com goes from one extreme to the other. Nothing like some healthy debate the day before the start of fall practice!
1. Florida State
Florida State returns to form in conference play this season. Chris Rix, an outstanding offensive line, and a great stable of running backs will lead the Noles to another championship. Out of conference, expect the Seminoles to pickup losses against Notre Dame and Miami.
Maryland adds another 10-win season with the help of a cupcake out of conference schedule. Maryland is loaded this season, but road games against Florida State and North Carolina State will prevent the Terps from winning the conference.
The critics are silenced quickly as the Tigers start the season with a huge win over Georgia. Confidence can do wonders and this season a confident Tiger team enters the bye week 4-0. Expect the Tigers to lose on the road against Maryland and North Carolina State but run the table at home. If Florida State stumbles in conference play before they come to the valley, expect the Tigers to be playing for the conference championship.
4. N.C. State
The Wolfpack will not be as good as advertised this season. Philip Rivers and T.A. McLendon will continue to lead an explosive offense, but the cinderella story will be over in Raleigh. Expect losses to Ohio State, Florida State, Maryland and an upset against a lower tier conference team.
Expect the Cavaliers to come back down to earth this season. The talented but young team Cavaliers will suffer road losses against Clemson, North Carolina State and Maryland in addition to home losses against Florida State and future conference opponent Virginia Tech.
6. Wake Forest
Grobe's coaching and his offensive system will get a huge test this year, as a great deal of last year's talent is now gone. The Deac's will need to upset an upper tier team to become bowl eligible.
7. North Carolina
The Heels show a litte progress from last season, but there are still major holes to fill before the Heels can compete with the upper tier of the conference. The biggest question for North Carolina is will there be a coaching change at seasons end.
8. Georgia Tech
The Jackets are in for a long year and expect the heat to be too much for Gailey by seasons end. Academic casualties, significant losses to graduation, and a brutal schedule to start the season will have Tech fans looking forward to the 2004 campaign by the end of September.
The conference losing streak continues for the Blue Devils. They showed signs of improving last season, but the talent gap is still too much. Duke could pull an upset against the Heels or Jackets but don't count on it.