ACC Media Preseason Poll
All-ACC Preseason Team
One reason the computer seems to like Wake Forest for a Atlantic division title repeat is that their cross-over games are against the bottom three teams in the Coastal division. That means the Deacs don't have to face Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech or Miami. According to the computer, Wake's only blemish will come in the season-opening road trip to Boston College. But they are projected to bounce back in big fashion the following week when Nebraska invades comparatively tiny Groves Stadium (31,500).
However, Wake Forest's prognosis could easily turn sour as four of their forecasted victories are by fewer than five points - home games with Nebraska (-1.45) and Florida State (-4.64), and road dates with Virginia (-4.56) and Clemson (-1.21).
Should the Deacons slip, Boston College will be in great shape to overtake the defending ACC champions in Jeff Jagodzinski's first season at the helm. Jagodzinksi comes back to Chestnut Hill after serving eight years in the NFL, most recently as the Green Bay Packers' offensive coordinator in 2006. Prior to that, he had a two-year stint in Atlanta as offensive line coach. He was Green Bay's tight ends coach from 1999-2003, a job he took after serving as Tom O'Brien's offensive coordinator at Boston College in 1997 and 1998.
O'Brien split for North Carolina State where Chuck Amato was fired after the Wolfpack ended the season on a 7-game losing streak to turn in a 3-9 campaign. O'Brien was 75-45 in 10 seasons at BC, including a 6-game winning streak in bowl games. (A seventh straight bowl win over Navy in last year's Meineke Car Care Bowl came under interim head coach Frank Spaziani).
Amato, an N.C. State alumnus, headed back to Tallahassee and his old job under Bobby Bowden as the Seminoles' linebacker coach. Bowden's just glad he doesn't have to coach against Amato as "The Chest" went 4-3 in games against his mentor.
Bowden was also successful in luring Jimbo Fisher away from a seven-year stint as LSU's offensive coordinator. Fisher replaces Bowden's son, Jeff, who resigned three days after a 30-0 loss at home to Wake Forest on November 11.
Additionally, Bobby plucked offensive line coach Rick Trickett from West Virginia.
All of those changes have made FSU a much more confident program heading into the 2007 season. But the computer appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach as it forecasts a near repeat of last season when the Seminoles went 7-6 over-all, 3-5 in the ACC. All of the projected losses are away from home as Florida State must travel to Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Florida.
The Seminoles are 9.71-point underdogs in Blacksburg to a school Bowden has never lost to and the Hokies haven't beaten since 1975. However, that 12-game winning streak includes just three visits to Virginia Tech and none since 1989.
Miami and North Carolina also have new leadership heading into the 2007 season.
A tumultuous season at Miami ended with the firing of Larry Coker just hours after a 17-14 win over Boston College made the Hurricanes eligible for the postseason at 6-6. Coker won a national championship in his first year with Miami, and compiled a 60-15 record in six seasons. But a third-quarter brawl in their October 14 game with FIU marred the rest of season and left the Hurricanes with a tarnished image.
Miami found Coker's replacement within its own ranks when it promoted defensive coordinator Randy Shannon. Shannon's bid for the job was supported by Coker and the Miami players.
North Carolina replaced John Bunting with Coker's predecessor at Miami - Butch Davis. Davis spent six seasons with the Miami Hurricanes from 1995-2000 and had a 55-20 record. He was the only one of Miami's last five head coaches who failed to win a national championship at the school with much of his tenure spent rebuilding a program hit hard by probation. Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson all won titles before him, and Larry Coker won the title with Davis' recruits in 2001.
Bunting was 27-45 in seven seasons and only one Tar Heel team in the last five years finished the regular season with a winning record. That was the team that went to the 2004 Charlotte-based Continental Tire Bowl (now the Meineke Car Care Bowl) and lost to finish 6-6.
North Carolina is expected to experience major growing pains in Davis' first year as the computer forecasts a 2-10 season. A win over Duke is the season finale is all that will keep UNC winless against 1-A competition.
Duke enters the season with the current longest losing streak in the nation. The Blue Devils have lost 20 games over-all, and 22 straight to 1-A teams. Last year's winless campaign included a 13-0 season-opening loss to 1-AA Richmond. If the computer's forecast for 2007 holds true, the Duke losing skid will hit 32 with no end in sight.
The top of the Coastal division is filled by the two Techs - Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The Hokies return virtually everyone from one of the nation's top defenses and can't help but be improved on offense. The Yellow Jackets appear to be VT's biggest challenger despite the loss of wide receiver Calvin Johnson to the NFL's Detroit Lions as the No. 2 over-all pick.
The only blemish in the Hokies forecast is the trip to LSU in week two. The Yellow Jackets' losses are expected to come in the season-opener at Notre Dame, and at home on November 1 against the Virginia Tech.
Over-all, the computer has 9 ACC teams becoming eligible for the postseason with Clemson and Maryland limping in on the .500 mark. Miami, Virginia and Florida State all clear the hurdle at 7-5.