2006 ACC Preview: Hurricane Warning In Place

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Christian Olsen is just one of five new starting QBs in the ACC this season.

I don’t think this is what John Swofford had in mind when he brought over Virginia Tech, Miami, and Boston College. He probably expected a fiercely competitive league with the newcomers forcing the rest of the conference to elevate their own level of play. Two years in, however, the conference has gone from Florida State and the other eight to the big three and little eight – Duke is somewhere else entirely.

In 2004 and 2005, middle-of-the-pack teams like Virginia and Boston College failed to capitalize on opportunities to burst onto the national scene, as powers Virginia Tech and Florida State own the two post-expansion titles. The big question is whether the little eight will ever step up and knock off the big three; it may happen, but don’t count on it this year.

The conference as a whole might be weaker than 2005 entering the season. While the Florida schools seem to be legitimate national title contenders talent-wise, just four teams are ranked and only four more received votes in the preseason coaches’ poll. In 2005, five were in the top 25, and 10 of the 12 teams received votes in the poll.

The conference may have a distinctly different look this year, as last year it was filled with dominant defenses (seven of the top 18 in the country according to the 2005 College Football News’ preview). A lot of that talent is now playing on Sundays, as 12 of the first 37 picks in April’s NFL Draft were ACC defenders. Nine new starting quarterbacks lined up under center in 2005, but only five teams will have new signal callers in 2006, leading to what hopefully will be a higher scoring conference.

So, you might ask, what does this mean in the week-to-week happenings in the ACC? Probably not much. The axis of power in the conference has not changed, and don’t expect any huge jumps from 2005 to 2006. As for prognosticating, well, we love to use hindsight