A look at the ACC | Ken Tysiac
Observer staff writer breaks down what's ahead in the conference
Florida State at Clemson, Sept. 3. Bowden Bowl goes to Labor Day in prime-time matchup.
Virginia Tech at Louisiana State, Sept. 8. The Hokies, a national favorite after the deadly shooting, visit a national title contender.
N.C. State at Boston College, Sept. 8. The boo birds will be circling when coach Tom O'Brien visits his old school.
Nebraska at Wake Forest, Sept. 8. Defending ACC champions get home game against storied opponent.
South Carolina at North Carolina, Oct. 13. Steve Spurrier and Butch Davis give star power to Carolinas clash.
Predicted order of finish
(Predicted records in parentheses)
1. Florida State (9-3, 6-2): Bobby Bowden's staff shake-up puts Florida State back on top.
2. Wake Forest (9-3, 5-3): Don't count out the defending champs. They'll be dangerous on offense.
3. Boston College (8-4, 5-3): Can Jeff Jagodzinski keep rolling with Tom O'Brien's strong roster?
4. Clemson (8-4, 5-3): Fans are starting to turn against Tommy Bowden.
5. N.C. State (5-7, 2-6): Chuck Amato didn't leave O'Brien a proven quarterback.
6. Maryland (4-8, 2-6): Tough schedule with West Virginia, Rutgers in nonconference games.
1. Virginia Tech (11-1, 8-0): Only question is at quarterback with Sean Glennon.
2. Georgia Tech (8-4, 6-2): QB Taylor Bennett is an upgrade over Reggie Ball.
3. Miami (7-5, 4-4): No-nonsense Randy Shannon will instill needed discipline.
4. Virginia (7-5, 3-5): Jameel Sewell shows promise at quarterback.
5. North Carolina (3-9, 2-6): Not enough talent yet for Butch Davis' turnaround.
6. Duke (0-12, 0-8): If hopelessness hasn't set in -- it should.
• ACC championship game:
Virginia Tech over Florida State
T: Barry Richardson, ClemsonG: Andrew Crummey, Maryland
C: Steve Justice, Wake Forest
G: Sergio Render, Virginia Tech
T: Duane Brown, Virginia Tech
TE: Tom Santi, Virginia
QB: Matt Ryan, Boston College
RB: C.J. Spiller, Clemson
RB: Branden Ore, Virginia Tech
WR: Kevin Challenger, Boston College
WR: Greg Carr, Florida State
K: Sam Swank, Wake Forest
DE: Calais Campbell, Miami
T: DeMario Pressley, N.C. State
T: Andre Fluellen, Florida State
DE: Chris Long, Virginia
LB: Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech
LB: Vince Hall, Virginia Tech
LB: Philip Wheeler, Georgia Tech
S: Kenny Phillips, Miami
S: Chris Clemons, Clemson
CB: Victor Harris, Virginia Tech
CB: Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech
P: Durant Brooks, Georgia Tech
Shoes to fill
1. James Johnson, Georgia Tech WR: Replaces No. 2 overall draft pick Calvin Johnson as top target in Yellow Jackets' passing attack.
2. Jeff Jagodzinski, Boston College coach: Predecessor Tom O'Brien established Eagles as a model of consistency.
3. Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest FS: Josh Gattis was the anchor of the Deacs' turnover-forcing defense last season as a senior.
4. Ricky Sapp, Clemson DE: Has the speed to take over the dominating pass rusher role vacated by No. 4 NFL pick Gaines Adams.
5. Doug Rhoads, ACC director of officiating: Retiring officiating chief Tommy Hunt handled this delicate job well with his disarming humor.
1. Brandon Meriweather, Miami S: Between an offseason shooting and the stomping incident with Florida International, this excellent athlete was bad news.
2. Jeff Bowden, Florida State offensive coordinator: Highly regarded Jimbo Fisher tries to fix the mess Bowden created.
3. Unattractive schedules: Nebraska, Louisville and South Carolina are among the high-profile visitors to N.C. schools. And Duke has the courage to visit Notre Dame.
1. Marvin Austin, North Carolina DT: Freshman from Washington is one of the Tar Heels' most high-profile recruits ever.
2. Michael Kelly, ACC associate commissioner. Takes over football operations, including the important job of developing a successful ACC championship game.
3. Border skirmish. North Carolina's game with South Carolina on Oct. 13 in Chapel Hill will be a huge draw.
4. Willy Korn, Clemson QB: Highly touted freshman has tools to play right away but needs to beat out junior Cullen Harper.
5. Randy Shannon, Miami coach: He's the ACC's second African American head football coach, joining Jim Caldwell (Wake Forest, 1993-2000).
1. Virginia Tech's innocence: Hope the school's reputation isn't stained by Seung Hui Cho's deadly rampage.
2. John Talley: Frequently intercepting cornerback gave us a reason to watch Duke.
3. Chuck Amato's news conferences: Flamboyant former N.C. State coach always had something interesting to say.
4. John Bunting's enthusiasm: Even if there was no factual basis for it, the former North Carolina coach's optimism was infectious.
5. Gaines Adams: His rise from eight-man football in Greenwood, S.C., to domination at defensive end for Clemson was a great story.