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College Football Analysis: Can Any Team in the ACC Challenge Florida State, Virginia Tech?

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Last week in our series of Conference Conversations we covered the Big 12. It seems only appropriate that this week we move on to the ACC. Today we start with the first of five Q & A sessions discussing ACC football.

Joining us this week to discuss ACC football will be Brandon Rink of the appropriately named ACC blog ACC Blogger. We have Chris Colston, the author of the HokieFootball Annual joining us.  We are also proud to introduce our own ACC football expert, Jimmy Shivers. Jimmy will be managing the ACC football section of The Saturday Edge this fall, so make sure you stop by and check out his game analyses and ACC picks.

Question # 1: Las Vegas has installed Florida State as the favorite to win the ACC this year (+125), Virginia Tech is second at (+275) and Clemson a distant third at (+500). What other team could realistically surprise the oddsmakers and challenge those teams for the conference title? Why?

Brandon RinkACC Blogger: The first team that comes to mind can’t do so in UNC due to the NCAA’s punishment (no postseason), but they have the ingredients to make things tough for those who are gunning for Clemson’s title.

If I have to pick one, it would be NC State – they really came on down the stretch last season (winning 4-of-5 and blowing out Clemson) and host Florida State (they’ve had success against them in Raleigh). Mike Glennon is a solid quarterback and they’ll have one of the best secondaries in the nation led by cornerback David Amerson. They’re a team that just can’t seem to put together a full season, but maybe this is the year.

Chris ColstonHokieFootball Annual: I don’t really see anybody else challenging for the title. Miami just lost too much, including six undergraduates. Virginia still has to prove it is for real. North Carolina is breaking in a new coach and is ineligible for the title. Georgia Tech is probably your best bet, but the Yellow Jackets’ quirky offense seems to limit their upside.

Jimmy ShiversThe Saturday Edge: It must be spring time in the ACC, as once again we are subjected to the never-ending talk of Florida State’s resurgence among the conference (and national!!) elite.  Yes the ‘Noles are filthy with depth on both sides of the ball and return an experienced QB to go along with a defense that is absolutely loaded with speed and talent. Until they show the consistency to go along with their talent we have to look to other places for our value in betting ACC futures.

In the Atlantic the darkhorse is NC State, even if only by default (Wake Forest, Boston College and Maryland are all non-entities at this point).  The Wolfpack are led by a prolific QB in Mike Glennon, and they have an extremely experienced offensive line which is lead by a head coach who has always thrived when he has a good group up front (Tom O’Brien).   The Wolfpack have some serious questions in the middle of the defense but the defensive coaching staff is excellent and will find ways to shore the gap between a solid defensive line and a fantastic secondary.  I don’t think State wins the Atlantic but they will be in every game they play in ’12 which will present value for bettors looking for long term hedging options.

The Coastal division is much more interesting, as there isn’t a runaway favorite and everyone but Duke has a reasonable claim to the crown.  Picking one team is tough at this point in the offseason, but the most interesting team for me is Georgia Tech.  Their admittedly gimmicky offense is primed for success with a QB who knows how to run the offense and a very experienced offensive line that will pave the way for a consistently prolific attack.

The defense has been a large question mark but the back seven is talented and they have a very experienced DC (former UVA HC and 3-4 impresario Al Groh)  The Jackets get their toughest ACC opponent in the opening week of the season which may be to their advantage (more to be said about this game later in the week).

Join us tomorrow as we look at some of the potential breakout stars of the ACC. Also, for those interested in ordering Chris’  HokieFootball Annual, you can do so at www.chriscolston.com. It is just $9.99 for the collectible hard copy and $7.99 for the online digital edition.

Who do you think can compete with Florida State this year in the ACC? Please leave your comments below or Twitter us @saturdayedge. Thanks – Pez.

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