As we approach Week Eight of the college football season, most teams across the ACC have officially reached the midway point of their schedules. Given everything that has happened so far, from the out of conference schedules to the beginning of conference play, we decided as a staff here at InsideTheACC to answer some questions about the state of the conference this season to the best of our abilities through the first half of the year. In the first of a two-part series, Mike McDaniel, Justin Cates, and Jeff Greenberg give their insight as they best see it from around the ACC.
Through seven weeks of ACC football…..
1) Who is your Atlantic Division Pick?
Cates: Clemson is resilient and experienced. They’re also the most talented team in the conference.
Greenberg: Right now, there is no reason to think anybody other than Clemson will win the Atlantic. Even if they stub their toe in Tallahassee, they will own the tie-breaker over Lousiville. The Tigers will be in the ACCCG once again.
McDaniel: Do you see Clemson losing two out of their last six? That’s what it’s going to take to keep the Tigers from the Atlantic Division title. That’s not happening, so I’m taking the Tigers.
2) Who is your Coastal Division Pick?
Cates: Tougher to say as always. I’ll pick North Carolina at this stage.
Greenberg: Chaos has returned to the Coastal Division. I think it comes down to the Hokies and the Tar Heels. If Virginia Tech wins Thursday night against Miami then they’re in the driver’s seat once again. However, I think the Hurricanes will upset the Hokies and open the door for the Tar Heels to take the Coastal Division down the stretch in what “should be” the easier half of their schedule. If UNC can win the games they’re supposed to win, particularly the season finale against NC State, then they’ll make their second straight ACCCG. I think Thursday’s game in Blacksburg is the first of many key games in this race.
McDaniel: North Carolina is in strong position because they are through the most difficult part of their schedule with only one loss to Virginia Tech in conference play. With the soft schedule and the talent that they have on both sides of the football, it’s tough to pick against them at this juncture, given that the Hokies lost to Syracuse and have two tough games in a row coming up with Miami and Pitt.
3) Who is your ACC Champion?
Cates: Clemson for the reasons listed above.
Greenberg: I have to go with Clemson as of today. They definitely look beatable right now, but, until somebody actually does it, they’re my pick to win the ACC again.
McDaniel: Clemson. They’re still one of the nation’s most talented teams top to bottom.
4) How many ACC teams will make the College Football Playoff?
Cates: At this point it looks like just one, though Louisville still has an outside shot if they win out and crazy upsets happen — and they will.
Greenberg: The ACC will get 1 team into the playoff.
McDaniel: Just Clemson. I believe Louisville still has an outside chance, but after Houston lost to Navy, that road game against the Cougars at the end of the year will not garner nearly the fanfare that it could have. Because of that, as well as how well the teams in front of the Cardinals are playing from other conferences, it will be difficult for Bobby Petrino’s squad to get in at this juncture, at least by my estimation.
5) Where would you rank the ACC among other conferences in America?
Cates: Just behind the SEC because of the aforementioned depth. The Big Ten lacks quality at the bottom and, the SEC is still out front though it may be a bit top-loaded this season.
Greenberg: Right now the ACC is the second best conference in the country behind the SEC, but it’s as close as it’s ever been in my opinion.
McDaniel: I’d also put the ACC just behind the SEC in the conference rankings. The Big Ten has a legitimate argument, but because that conference is so heavy and the ACC has so much depth top to bottom, I give the home conference the nod.
Thanks for reading, and make sure to check out Part Two of our Midseason Staff Roundtable later this week! Follow us on Twitter @jeffgberg, @MikeMcDanielACC, and @BestCates and follow @InsideTheACC for more Atlantic Coast Conference coverage.