ACC Atlantic Divison: 2015 Preview
Could there be a shake-up in the Atlantic Coast Conference's power structure this season?
Its Atlantic Division has been dominated by Florida State lately, but the Seminoles are coming into 2015 with their usual number of off-field issues and Clemson and Louisville on their heels.
Could be quite the chase, no doubt with a surprise or two along the way.
Jameis Winston and his circus are off to the NFL draft, and now, the Noles have lost incoming quarterback De'Andre Johnson and leading running back Dalvin Cook to -- what else? -- suspension for doing dumb stuff. Add to that the marriage rumors concerning coach Jimbo Fisher and Florida State better hope that Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson can come in and work magic at the quarterback position.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is now healthy and ready to lead the Tigers in what coach Dabo Swinney hopes is a playoff season. With receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott returning, Watson has two top targets. Sat 7 Nov is a long way off, but that may be when the ACC Atlantic Division title is determined.
Louisville expects a breakout year under Bobby Petrino in their second ACC season. The Cardinals are not set at quarterback but have returning running back Brandon Radcliff and receiver James Quick. The 'Ville played well defensively last season but lost seven starters from that unit. Their early schedule doesn't help. They open with Auburn and get Clemson and Florida State before the middle of October.
There are four other teams in the division, but in the harsh light of cold reality, only one has an outside chance of winning the title.
North Carolina State is on the rise under third year coach Dave Doeren. Gator transfer QB Jacoby Brissett returns to lead what could well be an explosive offense. NC State has four scrimmages before facing Louisville in Week 5. If they can pull an upset, Cinderella will have been announced.
Boston College is improving, and if they can keep coach Steve Addazio on Chestnut Hill, they'll continue to get better each season. They'll need consistent production from QB Darius Wade to improve on their 7-6 season and return to a bowl game.
Wake Forest and Syracuse play their first conference game against each other on Sat 12 Sep, and that game could be for last place.
Both teams were 3-9 in 2014, with Syracuse beating the Demon Deacons, 30-7, in WInston-Salem. The Orange will need QB Terrel Hunt to improve if they want to progress, while Wake Forest will need the same from QB John Wolford.
The ACC Atlantic is so much tougher than the Coastal Division, so its winner will be a huge favorite over -- most likely -- Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game. The Ramblin' Wreck can only hope the survivor is too beat up to pull away and leaves them in with a shout.