After claiming three straight ACC titles and re-establishing itself as the preeminent team in the league, Florida State is expected to take a backseat to Georgia Tech in 2015.
Perhaps, the 'Noles hard-fought 37-35 win over the Yellow Jackets in last year's ACC Championship game was foretelling of events to come as the computer likes Georgia Tech by 4.07 points in this year's title clash. That contest would be a rematch of a regular season meeting at Georgia Tech on October 24 in which FSU is a 7.07-point underdog.
Can Jimbo Fisher really lose twice to a school with a one-dimensional offense? Say what you will about Georgia Tech's improved passing game a year ago, conventional wisdom says that if you shut down the run, you shut down a Paul Johnson-coached team.
This much is clear. The preseason forecast, based on the Congrove Computer Rankings, has Florida State and Georgia Tech as locks to win their respective divisions. The 'Noles enter the season with a power rating of 83.65, which is nearly 12 points greater than projected Atlantic division second-place finisher N.C. State. Georgia Tech opens with a power rating of 87.72, which is over 9 points greater than forecasted Coastal runner-up Virginia Tech.
The computer's analysis offers some other head-turning predictions for 2015.
Clemson is forecasted to finish 6-6 with road losses to Louisville, N.C. State and South Carolina, and home setbacks to Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Florida State. When you look at the Tigers' schedule, it becomes a bit difficult to see why so many prognostications put Dabo Swinney's team atop the Atlantic division and, in some cases, the entire ACC.
Miami is picked to go 3-9 and just 1-7 in the ACC as it battles UVa for last-place in the Coastal. Al Golden may not last the season as head coach if that prediction becomes anything close to reality. The computer isn't alone in its dismal forecast for the 'Canes as most preseason pundits have them near the bottom of their division.
Mike London continues to grill on the hot seat at Virginia, where the Cavs are forecasted to go 2-10 and wind up in the Coastal cellar for the 4th straight season.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech looks poised for a resurgence. The computer likes the Hokies to finish 10-2 overall, 7-1 in the ACC, with the only loss coming at Georgia Tech. Ironically, Georgia Tech hasn't beaten Virginia Tech in Atlanta since 2009. Virginia Tech's 3-5 conference record a year ago included 4 ACC losses by 5 points or less.
Pittsburgh is the only ACC team that switched head coaches in the offseason. The Panthers lost Paul Chryst after just 3 seasons as he opted to go back to Madison and take over the Wisconsin program that he served as an assistant for 7 years.