Atlantic Coast Convos Post-National Signing Day 2013 Top 25

Stanford Appears Poised to Contend for a National Championship in 2013

Stanford Appears Poised to Contend for a National Championship in 2013

Following National Signing Day a couple weeks ago, we’re starting to get a better idea on just where teams stand for the 2013 college football season. Based exclusively on returning players, National Signing Day results and your standard blind guessing, our very early 2013 top 25 is included below. Disagree? Like these picks? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Atlantic Coast Convos 2013 Top 25 (February 19)

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (Last Month: 1)

2. Stanford Cardinal (LM: 3)

3.Texas A&M Aggies (LM: 4)

4.Oregon Ducks (LM: 2)

5. Georgia Bulldogs (LM: 5)

6. Ohio State Buckeyes (LM: 6)

7. South Carolina Gamecocks (LM: 7)

8. Clemson Tigers (LM: 8)

9. Louisville Cardinals (LM: 9)

10. Florida Gators (LM: 13)

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ACC National Signing Day 2013 Recap: Looking Back at Our Predictions

Committing to the U in Style, WR Stacy Coley Looks to Bring Some Swag Back to Miami

Committing to the U in Style, WR Stacy Coley Looks to Bring Some Swag Back to Miami

Yesterday, we rolled the dice and tried to predict where all the top uncommitted ACC recruiting prospects would land on National Signing Day. Some we got right, while others we got resoundingly incorrect. A look at yesterday’s predictions, with notes on what we got right/wrong.

Matthew Thomas, OLB (5 Stars)

Our PickFlorida State; Actual – Florida State

Montravious Adams, DT (5 Stars)

Our PickClemson; ActualAuburn

MacKensie Alexander, CB (5 Stars)

Our PickMississippi State; Actual – Clemson

Stacy Coley, WR (4 Stars)

Our Pick – Florida State; Actual Miami (FL)

James Clark, WR (4 Stars)

Our PickFlorida; Actual – Ohio State

Tyrone Crowder, OG (4 Stars)

Our Pick – Clemson; Actual – Clemson

Denver Kirkland, OG (4 Stars)

Our PickArkansas; Actual – Arkansas

E.J. Levenberry, ILB (4 Stars)

Our PickTennessee; Actual – Florida State

Keith Bryant, DT (4 Stars)

Our PickSouth Carolina; Actual – Florida State

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National Signing Day 2013 Predictions: How Will the ACC Fare Tomorrow?

We Try to Guess Where Top Recruits Like Matthew Thomas Are Headed Tomorrow

We Try to Guess Where Top Recruits Like Matthew Thomas Are Headed Tomorrow

National Signing Day is upon us (almost)! And before letters of intent start getting faxed to various institutions of higher education around the country, we wanted to take one final look at which of the country’s top undecided recruits could land at ACC schools. No, we won’t mention Robert Nkemdiche here… Robert Nkemdiche.

Matthew Thomas, OLB (5 Stars)

Our PickFlorida State; Also In ContentionMiami (FL), Alabama, Georgia

Montravious Adams, DT (5 Stars)

Our PickClemson; Also In ContentionAuburn, Georgia

MacKensie Alexander, CB (5 Stars)

Our PickMississippi State; Also In Contention – Clemson, Auburn

Stacy Coley, WR (4 Stars)

Our Pick – Florida State; Also in Contention – Miami (FL), Syracuse, Louisville

James Clark, WR (4 Stars)

Our PickFlorida; Also In Contention – Clemson, Ohio State

Tyrone Crowder, OG (4 Stars)

Our Pick – Clemson; Also in ContentionNorth Carolina, Georgia

Denver Kirkland, OG (4 Stars)

Our PickArkansas; Also in Contention – Florida State, Miami (FL)

E.J. Levenberry, ILB (4 Stars)

Our PickTennessee; Also in Contention – Florida State

Update (2/5, 5:38 p.m. PT): Florida State holds onto Levenberry (via Tomahawk Nation)

Keith Bryant, DT (4 Stars)

Our PickSouth Carolina; Also in Contention – Florida State, Miami (FL)

Cornelius Elder, ATH (4 Stars)

Our PickUCLA; Also In ContentionGeorgia Tech, Ohio State, Purdue

Myles Jack, OLB/RB (4 Stars)

Our Pick – UCLA; Also In Contention – Florida State, Washington, Georgia

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Can the Wake Forest Football Program Remain Competitive?

Is the College Football Landscape Making it Impossible for Schools Like Wake to Compete?

Is the College Football Landscape Making it Impossible for Schools Like Wake to Compete?

While assembling the daily links for Wednesday, I happened upon an interesting story from Rant Sports, “Can the Wake Forest Demon Deacons Stay Competitive in ACC Football?” On a top-level, author M. Shannon Smallwood, takes a quick look at how Wake Forest and head coach Jim Grobe have continued to compete despite lesser resources and prestige than many of their counterparts, both locally and nationally. But I wanted to dig a bit deeper into that discussion, and really talk about the factors the school’s up against in the evolving college football environment. So rather than just chat about it by myself, I decided to bring in the author himself. What follows is our email conversation from yesterday:

John Cassillo: Can Wake Forest hope to compete in football in the future? With the conference’s smallest athletic budget and an influx of “richer” teams (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and “sort of” Notre Dame) coming in the ACC door, how are they going to play catch-up? Or better question: Can they play catch-up with the conference’s 14 other schools?

M. Shannon Smallwood: I am the eternal optimist so I have to believe the leadership in the Athletic Department and the President of the University are capable and smart enough to realize what decisions need to be made in order to keep the school afloat. But the reality is the landscape just got a lot more challenging for Wake Forest on every level.

I am working on my first ACC Football Power Rankings for Rant Sports (posting on Saturday) and I have Wake in the bottom three in the new-look ACC. I just don’t think the Demon Deacons will be able to put the depth of talent on the field to compete for four quarters in every game. I do think they can recruit and put 25 or so top level athletes on offense and defense, but its the athletes from 26 to 85, I am worried about.

I will say this is not a game of “catch up”. I think if you are a school looking at the landscape and, as an AD or President, you say “we need to catch up with the other members of the ACC,” you are setting yourself and your school up for disaster. Case-in-point: Maryland. The Terps made some terrible decisions and were/are bankrupt until the Big 10 bailed them out. Could Wake, Boston College or Duke ever be in a situation like Maryland? I don’t think so. I think there are some deep pockets and smarter folks at these three schools. But to be successful, you have to win. You have to create a buzz around campus, the town and the nation.

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Final 2012 ACC Football Power Rankings

Clemson's Big Upset Over LSU Was One of Several Wins to Help the ACC Save Face This Postseason

Clemson’s Big Upset Over LSU Was One of Several Wins to Help the ACC Save Face This Postseason

Well that was a pleasant surprise now, wasn’t it? After getting knocked around on and off the field all season, the ACC found itself when it counted — the postseason — and (including Pitt & SU) managed a 5-3 slate, it’s first winning bowl record since 2005. If you want to include Louisville (and I sure do, given their big Sugar Bowl win), that brings the league to 6-3, with wins over the SEC (LSU & Florida), Big 12 (West Virginia) and Pac-12 (pre-season no. 1 USC). But sure, keep laughing at this league. They proved themselves and more during this year’s bowl season, and hopefully it’s a building block for even more excellent football.

1. Florida State Seminoles (12-2) (7-1) (LW: 1): Knock FSU for their schedule, their two losses (why are we criticizing a 12-win team again?) or their lack of a chance at a national title this season. But at the end of the day, they’re exactly where they were slated to be. The ‘Noles will be back in that conversation again this decade. It just takes some time, and this — winning both the ACC and the Orange Bowl — was the first step. Jimbo Fisher’s team will need to get past several big losses going forward, most notably Bjoern Werner and EJ Manuel, but the foundation’s there for a bright future.

2. Clemson Tigers (11-2) (7-1) (LW: 2): Despite not making it to a BCS bowl game, I’d say the Tigers’ consolation prize was still well-worth the trouble, no? On a national stage, Clemson beat mighty SEC’s LSU Tigers, and in the process, ended up being part of the most-watched non-BCS college football game in ESPN’s history. Most stunning in Clemson’s 25-24 victory, however, was the oft-maligned defense. Down 11 points heading into the fourth, the Bayou Bengals could’ve just run the clock out throughout the final stanza. Instead, it was Clemson that stayed strong, shutting out LSU and setting up a defining win for the Dabo Swinney era.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4) (5-3) (LW: 4): It’s tough to look at UNC’s 2012 season without imagining what could’ve been for a squad that seemed to finally turn the corner here in Larry Fedora’s first year. Knocking on the door of a division title for quite some time, the Heels finally put it all together, only to be ineligible for the postseason. So while it’s a disappointment for North Carolina fans to watch an eight-win season get laid to waste, it’s also built this program some street cred. Despite Giovani Bernard‘s departure to the NFL Draft, QB Bryn Renner will stick around for his senior year, meaning this team returns plenty of firepower; most of which this season only served as a preview for.

4. Syracuse Orange (8-5) (LW: 5): As if it was meant to be, Syracuse closed out their time in the Big East — the conference they built — by putting together its most impressive season in a decade. Up against one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules, and a top-heavy league to boot, the Orange still managed to win six of their final seven games. The exclamation point, however (on top of a split conference title), was their resounding victory over rival West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl. As someone who braved the cold to watch in-person, it was amazing to see this squad’s transformation from the season’s opening-week struggles to the machine-like execution against the Mountaineers.

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Atlantic Coast Convos 2012 Top 25: Final Poll

After Yet Another Title Game Win, Alabama Takes its Place in the History Books

After Yet Another Title Game Win, Alabama Takes its Place in the History Books

Another great year of college football, another unfortunately forgettable title game. While we can’t necessarily count Notre Dame as an ACC team officially, it still stings a bit to see the Irish get so thoroughly throttled last night. Regardless of what Alabama coach Nick Saban says, the Crimson Tide are a dynasty and they proved it on Monday. Congratulations to them, and let’s all collectively make an effort to end the SEC streak next year, since we failed so miserably again in 2012.

Atlantic Coast Convos 2012 Top 25 (Final Poll)

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1) (LW: 3) (First-place votes: 6)

2. Oregon Ducks (12-1) (LW: 5)

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0) (LW: 2)

4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-1) (LW: 1)

5. Georgia Bulldogs (12-2) (LW: 7)

6. Stanford Cardinal (12-2) (LW: 8)

7. Texas A&M Aggies (11-2) (LW: 10)

8. Florida State Seminoles (12-2) (LW: 13)

9. South Carolina Gamecocks (11-2) (LW: 11)

10. Clemson Tigers (11-2) (LW: 14)

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Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: NC State Wolfpack vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

QB Mike Glennon Leads NC State Versus Vanderbilt & One of Country's Best Pass Defenses

QB Mike Glennon Leads NC State Versus Vanderbilt & One of Country’s Best Pass Defenses

Both NC State and Vanderbilt were seen as programs on the rise entering the 2012 season, and yet both started off with disappointing losses on national television. What followed, however, is what defines them as they meet in the postseason. The Wolfpack, while managing to upset then-no. 3 Florida State, also struggled for consistency during a stretch that saw them beat just one winning team (FSU) all year. Vandy, on the other hand, would tally five SEC wins, though admittedly, just one against a bowl-bound squad (Ole Miss). So are both suspect teams, or just a product of their respective schedules?

Bowl Game: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Location: Nashville, Tenn.

First Year: 1998

2012 Participants: NC State Wolfpack (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4)

Last Meeting: Vanderbilt over NC State, 7-0 (1946)

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NC State (previous bowl game: 31-24 win vs. Louisville in 2011 Belk Bowl)

Former State head coach Tom O’Brien told Wolfpack fans to expect big things in 2012, and yet the biggest occurrence ended up being his dismissal following a 7-5 campaign. Without O’Brien on the sidelines, the Pack will certainly be a different team as they head into their matchup with Vanderbilt, though admittedly, it’s hard to say if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. The former coach’s inability to assemble aggressive gameplans won’t be missed, but it’s questionable whether or not his players will be sufficiently motivated amidst the program’s upheaval. Luckily, they do possess strong veteran leadership, most notably in the form of senior quarterback Mike Glennon. In the shadow of Heisman-sized expectations, Glennon still managed to throw for over 3,600 touchdowns and 30 scores while leading a State team that relied primarily on the passing game. Averaging 304 passing yards per game, the Wolfpack were ranked 20th in the FBS, yet just 108th in rushing. The contrast — predicted given the team’s lack of true veteran presence or depth at the running back position — forced Glennon to shoulder most of the offensive load, and puts a glaring target on his back. With a defense that allowed 33 or more points five separate times, they’ll be calling on him once again. After the secondary finished 2011 campaign as the team’s biggest strength (27 interceptions), the group — led by star corner David Amerson — regressed mightily in 2012. Along with just 16 picks (an 11-INT drop from last year), State’s defense was ranked 97th in the country against the pass (versus 61st the year before).

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