ACC schedule rankings
New-look Seminoles No. 1; BC, Maryland follow
Posted: Thursday June 21, 2007 1:07PM; Updated: Thursday June 21, 2007 6:04PM
Based on the arrival of offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, other changes to the offensive staff and the return of 15 starters, Florida State expects to be significantly improved.
The Seminoles had better be.
Even if Florida State makes remarkable progress, it might not show up in the standings. FSU has a very demanding schedule, one which we believe is the toughest in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
A season-opening trip to Clemson is the start of the trials to come. The Seminoles must also go on the road to face defending ACC champion Wake Forest, and FSU will take on Alabama in Jacksonville.
But the most difficult part of Florida State's slate is a stretch in November. The Seminoles face a grind which will take them to Boston College, Virginia Tech and defending national champion Florida. In between, they hosts Maryland, which is coming off a nine-win season.
On the other end of the spectrum, Wake Forest is trying to post consecutive winning seasons for only the third time in the last 20 years. The Demon Deacons have a decent chance with six teams that had losing records last year.
1. Florida State
Behind the ranking: The Seminoles play eight bowl teams from a year ago and face Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Florida on the road. Getting Alabama at a neutral site doesn't figure to be much easier.
Toughest game: When the Seminoles travel to Virginia Tech on Nov. 10, the Hokies will presumably be on the verge of clinching the Coastal Division. Playing in Blacksburg with something at stake for the Hokies is not an ideal situation.
Cakewalk: From Sept. 8 to Oct. 6, the Seminoles face four teams coming off losing seasons. They get UAB (3-9) and N.C. State (3-9) at home, Colorado (2-10) on the road and Alabama (6-7) at a neutral site.
Trap game: A nine-win team like Maryland doesn't usually figure into trap games, but the Terps are still often overlooked in the ACC. The Seminoles get Maryland in Tallahassee, but that's one week after a trip to Virginia Tech and one week before going to face rival Florida.
Changes from last season: Adding Alabama upgrades the non-conference schedule. The Seminoles drop Virginia from the Coastal Division and add Virginia Tech. This year they go to Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College and Florida, but get Miami at home.
2. Boston College
Behind the ranking: Opening against Wake Forest and playing Georgia Tech in week three is no picnic, but the second half of the season is a grind. The Eagles have trips to Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Clemson and home games against Florida State and Miami.
Toughest game: At Virginia Tech on Nov. 25. A road trip to Blacksburg is never a joy ride, and the Hokies return an experienced, rugged defense. This could be a preview of the ACC championship game.
Cakewalk: In a three-week span from Sept. 22 to Oct. 6, the Eagles face Army, Massachusetts and Bowling Green. Army won three games last season and Bowling Green won four. UMass did post 13 victories, but that was in Division I-AA.
Trap game: The Eagles go to Georgia Tech on Sept. 15, one week after facing former coach Tom O'Brien (who left BC for North Carolina State in the offseason). The N.C. State game figures to be emotional, so it's reasonable to expect a letdown the following week.
Changes from last season: Duke drops off the schedule and is replaced by Georgia Tech. Notre Dame replaces BYU as the strongest non-conference opponent. Whether that's an upgrade or downgrade in the schedule is subject to debate.
Behind the ranking: Closing September with West Virginia, Wake Forest and Rutgers is as tough a three-game stretch as there is. The Terps also get Georgia Tech and Clemson at home and take a trip to Florida State.
Toughest game: Last season Maryland ranked 96th nationally in run defense. On Sept. 13 the Terps face West Virginia, which was second nationally in rushing offense. Facing Steve Slaton and Pat White with a suspect run defense is a recipe for disaster, which was the case last season when the Terps allowed 45 points to West Virginia.
Cakewalk: Maryland opens the season with Villanova, which won six games in Division I-AA last year, and follows with a trip to winless Florida International.
Trap game: By Nov. 3, North Carolina could be making significant progress in its first season under Butch Davis. If that's the case, Maryland might catch the Tar Heels at the most inopportune time -- after Clemson and before consecutive games against Boston College and Florida State.
Changes from last season: The non-conference slate is much harder with the Terps adding Rutgers and dropping Middle Tennessee State. Ouch. However, North Carolina replaces Miami from the Coastal Division. That's a little better.
4. North Carolina State
Behind the ranking: Louisville is the marquee name on the non-conference slate, but Division I-AA Wofford and Central Florida compromise the strength of schedule. There will be no envy, though, with trips to Boston College, Florida State, Miami and Wake Forest.
Toughest game: Big East teams are constantly hearing how they're inferior and are always looking to make a point against teams from more prestigious conferences. Louisville will not only have that motivation when the Cardinals visit Raleigh on Sept. 29, but they will also have national championship aspirations. They will have quarterback Brian Brohm, too.
Cakewalk: This isn't so much a walk and it is a jaunt. Division I-AA Wofford shouldn't provide too much suspense on Sept. 15, but after that nothing is assured. Clemson, Louisville and Florida State follow.
Trap game: East Carolina would love to knock off state schools North Carolina and N.C. State -- which ventures into Greenville on Oct. 20. Last season the Pirates beat the Wolfpack in Raleigh. This time they want to do it in front of their fans, and they get a chance a week after N.C. State goes to Florida State.
Changes from last season: N.C. State loses Akron and gains Louisville. That's bad news, especially considering that Akron beat the Wolfpack last year. Miami replaces Georgia Tech as a Coastal Division foe.
Behind the ranking: The Hurricanes might petition for admission into the Big 12 South with a road game at Oklahoma and a home game against Texas A&M. They also go to Florida State, Virginia Tech and Boston College.
Toughest game: There are plenty to choose for, but a Nov. 17 visit to Blacksburg looks most difficult. The Hurricanes lost to the Hokies in Miami last year, and Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon projects to be better than he was a year ago. Also, Virginia Tech's defense is one of the few that can match Miami's.
Cakewalk: In a four-week span from Sept. 15 to Oct. 6 the Hurricanes face Florida International (winless in '06), Duke (winless in '06) and North Carolina (3-9 in '06). Those games are interrupted by a home date with Texas A&M, which should be a dramatic upgrade in caliber of opponent. But did you see the Holiday Bowl?
Trap game: Georgia Tech defeated Miami 30-23 in 2006, and the Yellow Jackets could do it again on Oct. 13 if the Hurricanes are looking ahead to a trip to Florida State the next week.
Changes from last season: Louisville and Houston have been replaced by Oklahoma and Texas A&M. There is no Division I-AA opponent this year. A road game against Maryland from the Atlantic Division is gone. Instead, the Hurricanes play N.C. State at home.
Behind the ranking: A regular-season finale at state rival South Carolina is the only non-conference game against a BCS conference team. The Tigers get Florida State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College at home.
Toughest game: Virginia Tech's defense should be one of the best in the country, and facing it is a tall order for a first-time starting quarterback. The game is midway through the season (Oct. 6) at Death Valley, so the Tigers have that going for them.
Cakewalk: After opening the season against Florida State, the Tigers face Louisiana-Monroe, Furman and N.C. State in consecutive weeks. That's two teams coming off losing seasons and a Division I-AA opponent.
Trap game: Central Michigan, which has a very good quarterback in sophomore Dan LeFevour, is one of those MAC teams that always has a chip on its shoulder. Also worrisome is that the Chippewas, who won 10 games in 2006, come in a week before Clemson goes to Maryland on Oct. 27.
Changes from last season: Even with a Division I-AA opponent, the non-conference schedule looks tougher with Florida Atlantic, Temple and Louisiana Tech gone. However, Boston College, Florida State, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech all go into Death Valley this year.
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