6. NC State
7. Wake Forest
2. Georgia Tech
ACC Champion: Florida State
Preseason ACC POY: Jameis Winston
I haven't had a chance to win-share everything yet, so this was a bit of a preliminary exercise for me; I may tweak these a bit before the season.
I took a fairly straightforward route on the Atlantic side as the top two teams are pretty obvious. I think 3–6 on that side could finish in about any order, and I was tempted to have NC State as high as 3rd due largely to my high opinion of Jacoby Brissett. I ultimately settled on a Louisville team that has learned to win the last few years, though I think the step up to the ACC will be fairly sizeable for the Cardinals. Boston College will be a tough out for everyone as long as Steve Addazio is there, and I think they’ll fight and claw to get bowl eligible this year.
The Coastal Division is a mess. Aside from Virginia, you could convince me that any team in that division could ultimately win it. Miami has the misfortune of playing FSU and a Louisville team that spanked them in their bowl game as cross-divisional games and has a gaping hole at the quarterback position. Virginia Tech should be salty again on defense, with one of the best secondaries in the country, but I’m not sure how they’re going to score. Paul Chryst is one of the top offensive minds in the country at Pitt, but they’re extremely thin across the board. I do like their young QB, Chad Voytek, and as long as Tyler Boyd is there they’ll have a passing game.
Duke should again be a team that doesn’t beat itself and drew Wake Forest and Syracuse from the Atlantic, so the Blue Devils have a schedule edge. Georgia Tech is my sleeper pick here, as their offense will again be a nightmare to defend and their defense should be slightly improved. They do, however, have to play Clemson from the Atlantic.
I ultimately settled on UNC as the division champ despite my strong reservations about their offensive line, which looked dangerously bad in the spring. But redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky (my preseason bet for ACC Offensive ROY) looked outstanding in the spring, the Carolina defense should be significantly improved over 2013, and the Heels draw NC State for one of their two Atlantic matchups (Clemson being the other). Junior QB Marquise Williams also proved capable last year, and the Heels have outstanding talent at each skill position and are solid on special teams. I’m not confident in the pick, but I think the Heels’ weakness on the offensive line is more likely to get fixed than the holes I see elsewhere in the division.
If I could have voted for a five-way tie, I would have.