Next up in my college football conference preview series is the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC seems poised to regain some of its former glory. Florida State played in each national title game in ’98-’00, winning one of them. The conference gained 3 big programs in the 2005 expansion, making the conference stronger. The ACC has a couple of teams that have a legitimate shot at winning the conference crown. Of course they’re also involved in the Texas A&M-SEC rumor being a conference where a team might be poached.

Other Previews: Big 12, Pac 12 and Big Ten

Atlantic Division

1) Florida State

The Jimbo Era started off with a 10 win season and experts are pegging this as a possible return to dominance for the Seminoles. QB EJ Manuel will begin his first full season as starter and he has 3 capable RBs to help him, as well as WRs Bart Reed and Willie Haulstead. The O-line must replace 2 very productive starters. The defense will be among the best in the nation as they tied for most sacks overall and should only get better. DE Brandon Jenkins, LB Nigel Bradham and CB Greg Reid will lead their respective position groups.

2) North Carolina State

The Wolfpack have ideas of challenging Florida State for the division, but have some questions that need to be answered. QB Mike Glennon takes over the departed Russell Wilson and must prove himself. The RBs and receivers do not have alot of experience and the O-line allowed the most sacks in the ACC. The defense will carry the team, with with big tacklers DT JR Sweezy, LB Audie Cole and LB Terrell Manning. The secondary returns all starters, but must improve an inefficient pass defense.

3) Clemson

The Tigers are considered by some to be the challenger to the Seminoles, but like NCSU have more questions then answers. RB Andre Ellington is one of the best in the conference and the O-line returns 4 veteran starters, but there is a lack of playmakers at the other skill positions. The defense will need to replace several starters, with freshmen filling in at LB and others needing to step up at the other positions.

4) Boston College

Senior RB Montel Harris will more then likely end the season as the ACC’s career leading rusher. However, he is the lone bright spot on the offense as QB Chase Rettig is still learning, the receivers are solid but not spectacular and the O-line must replace 3 starters, including OT Anthony Costanzo. The defense has talent across the board and they led the nation in run defense last season. LB Luke Kuechly will be in the running for the Butkus, the D-line will be stout, but the secondary must improve a inconsistent pass defense.

5) Maryland

Randy Edsall takes over as coach and hopes to do what he did at Connecticut in College Park. QB Danny O’Brien is among the best in the conference and RBs Davin Meggett and Darvin Adams combined for nearly 1,000 yards. The O-line and receivers lack experience and playmakers. Top S Kenny Tate will make the move to LB, leaving a hole at safety. The front seven has the talent to make up for that loss.

6) Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons will struggle on both sides of the ball as all position groups will rank at the bottom of the conference. Their biggest strength will be their O-line, which as 4 senior starters to lead the way for RB Josh Harris who had a 241 yard game last season against Virginia Tech. The defense has experience, but those players have not been that productive.

Coastal Division

1) Virginia Tech

QB Logan Thomas and RB David Wilson are some of the most talented in the conference but lack the experience needed to prove themselves. The WRs Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale and Dyrell Roberts lead the way for the receivers, though the likely starter at TE is converted DE Chris Drager. The playmakers will have a deep and talented O-line to lead the way. The front seven on defense has a lack of experience, but has no shortage of ability. The secondary will be very productive as CB Jayron Hosley ledt he nations in interceptions last season and FS Eddie Whitley is a tackling machine.

2) Miami

The U will have a tough time with the Shapiro scandal hanging over them, but have talent on the field. The running game is loaded to the brim, but the unclear QB situation and departed WR Leonard Hankerson leaves a hole at WR. Good news is that all four of the returning O-line starters are all-ACC. The defense is loaded with depth and expierence, with the D-line leading the nation in tackled for loss, and big time players in LB Sean Spence and S Vaughn Telemaque.

3) North Carolina

The Tar Heels are a  team on the rise could challenge for the division in a few years. QB Bryn Renner and RB Ryan Houston are untested but Renner will have a stable of productive WRs to throw to in Dwight Jones, Erik Highsmith and Jheranie Boyd. A solid line led by second team all-ACC C Jonathan Cooper will lead the way. On the other side, DEs Quinton Couples and Donte Paige-Moss are almost first round locks. Talented LBs Kevin Reddick and Zach Brown make a solid front seven that will ahve to make up for an inexperienced secondary.

4) Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets led the nation in rushing last season, but lose prolific QB Joshua Nesbitt and have no real answer at QB. They should continue their running ways with RBs Orvin Smith and Roddy Jones, but inexperience at receiver and the O-line will cause problems. The defense will be solid, but unspectacular with LBs Steven Sylvester and Julian Burnett as the only productive returning starters.

5) Virginia

With no idea who the QB will be, the offense will need to gel quickly. The rest are solid players, with RB Perry Jones, WR Kris Burd and G Austin Pasztor the tops at their respective positions. The defensive front seven will need guys to step up and to improve one of the worst run defenses in the conference. The bright spot is the secondary, led by All-America candidate CB Chase Minnifield.

6) Duke

The school otherwise known for its basketball will more then likely be in the cellar of the conference. QB Sean Renfree and RB Desmond Scott are promising and WR has a solid duo in Connor Vernon and Donovan Varner, but the O-line will struggle keep defense out of the backfield. The defensive side will struggle greatly as last season they ranked last in the conference in a number of categories.