Projecting final ACC standings

Noles are the clear favorite, but who emerges from the Coastal is a toss-up

Originally Published: August 22, 2014
By Phil Steele | ESPN Insider

Jameis WinstonStacy Revere/Getty ImagesJameis Winston and the Noles are a no-brainer. But who will emerge to challenge them in the ACC?

The ACC is coming off one of its best seasons in recent memory. After going just 1-9 in BCS bowl games from 2000 to '11, the league has gone a perfect 3-0 the past two years, highlighted by Florida State's win over Auburn in the 2013 national title game. Not to mention the 11 ACC bowl teams last season set an all-time record for any conference.

In 2014, the ACC is poised to keep that momentum going, with clear preseason No. 1 FSU leading the charge, while four other teams (Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina and Virginia Tech) all look top-25 caliber.

Here are my 2014 projected ACC standings:


Atlantic Division

1. Florida State Seminoles


Projected record: 12-0
Early lines on toughest games:
at Louisville (minus-13), at Miami (minus-14)

The Seminoles return 13 starters from a BCS title team that outscored opponents by an average of 52-12. One of the starters back, of course, is Jameis Winston, who had a positive TD-to-INT ratio in every game except the 41-14 win over Miami. The weakest unit according to my positional rankings is the RB corps, which I still have No. 12. In other words, the Noles are the most talented team on paper and have a favorable schedule -- their three toughest games (Clemson, Notre Dame and Florida) are all at home. FSU has been favored in 37 straight games, and I have the Noles by double digits in every one this year.


Phil Steele

ESPN Insider