Just wanted to get them out in the air early so I can say I told you so later, or so you might forget about them as the season progresses. Either way, here we go.
1. Georgia Tech will struggle.
Many thought with the suspensions and dismissals last summer that the Jackets would struggle in 2003. But the Jackets surprised everyone, coming out strong with an upset win over Auburn and finished strong with a blowout bowl win over Toledo.
This year however, their losses will catch up with them. Without a go-to wide receiver Reggie Ball will be a sitting duck in an offense that will sit at the bottom of the ACC in production. The defense won't be much better as depth will be rail thin.
How bad will they struggle? Try 9th or 10th in the ACC.
2. Florida State beats Miami on Labor Day.
The most important game of the new ACC will be played on college football's first full weekend of games. The nation will tune in to see that nothing has really changed as Florida State will take it to Miami in the Orange Bowl and will lay early claim to the ACC crown that has been their's since 1993.
Miami lost too much to graduation and last year's draft. Sure, the players that will step into the starting role will be talented, but not talented enough to beat a Florida State team that has enough key components returning to make a serious run at the national championship.
3. Oklahoma will play Southern Cal for the National Championship.
Who else? Georgia? Don't bet on it, although I could see the Bulldogs being a team to run the table, before becoming a victim of their conference championship game.
Florida State has the talent and experience to make a run, but Chris Rix is a good for a meltdown (Bet the House!). Florida State will come out the gates looking like a champion, only to lose their only regular season game to a team that will feel as though they've shocked the world.
That will leave USC, who should have Reggie Williams back, and Oklahoma to play for the national championship. In the end, Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson will join Maurice Clarett and Justin Vincent as the most recent freshmen running back to help his team to the national championship.
4. Charles Bennett will be first team All-ACC.
Bennett has been the most consistent defender since the beginning of the spring. Normally I don't like to step out on a limb for a guy yet to make his first start, but Bennett's technique, speed and consistency is undeniable. He is able to put major heat on the quarterback while holding his ground against the run.
So far this fall he has continued his stellar play from a spring in which he spent most of his time in the Tiger offense's backfield. Yesterday he led the team in tackles, and in the first scrimmage he led the team in tackles for loss (4), and sacks (2).
If he does make the first team, he very well could join Leroy Hill and Justin Miller, which would mean a big season for the Tigers.
5. Kelvin Grant will be the Tiger's top wide receiver.
Last year it was Derrick Hamilton, and before Hamilton it was Rod Gardner. The question now is, who will be this year's number one target for Charlie Whitehurst?
Although the most experienced, no one really has given Airese Currie the nod as the next great wide receiver. The reason? No one honestly believes Currie can stay healthy throughout the 2004 season.
Roy Philpott, along with others who have seen him say that Chansi Stuckey will be this year's big playmaker. Although Stuckey should have a breakout year and will make fans shake their head in disbelief with his open field moves (Bet the House), he is not going to be the guy that leads this group.
The fact is it will be Kelvin Grant who leads the 2004 receiving corp. Grant has been written off somewhat by Clemson fans who will not allow themselves to believe he will avoid outside distractions in putting together a solid season.
In reality, Grant is probably the most talented receiver ever to step on Clemson's campus. The sophomore from Camden is able to get open with his quick moves, and is athletic enough to go up and get any ball that comes his direction. Another asset is Grant's abnormally large hands, which allows him to make effortless catches.
For those who question his consistency, Grant has been anything but inconsistent since spring practice, a trend that continued into Saturday's scrimmage in which he led all receivers with 4 catches for 69 yards including a 36-yard touchdown.
6. South Carolina Fans will Blame Skip Holtz for any offensive miscue.
No explanation needed, this is the chickens we are talking about, after all.
7. South Carolina will be bowl eligible.
Okay, so I'm not going to win any popularity contests with this one, but with early wins against Vanderbilt, South Florida and Troy State, the Gamecocks only need to win three of the following games: Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Clemson in order to become bowl eligible.
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