happy's lipboard - 2004 Big XII Breakdown
By Tim Chapman
NationalChamps.net Writer/Analyst
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Predicted Order of Finish Big Wins Upset Loss
1. Florida State 10-1 7-1 @Miami (9/6), Florida (11/20) @Wake Forest (10/23)
2. Miami 9-2 6-2 @N.C. State (10/23), Clemson (11/6) @Virginia (11/13)
3. N.C. State 8-3 6-2 @Clemson (10/30) --
4. Clemson 7-4 5-3 Maryland (10/23) @Texas A&M (9/18)
5. Maryland 8-3 5-3 @Virginia (11/6) --
6. Wake Forest 7-4 4-4 Florida State (10/23) --
7. Virginia 7-4 4-4 Miami (11/13) @Virginia Tech (11/27)
8. Virginia Tech 6-6 4-4 Virginia (11/27) @Wake Forest (10/9)
9. Georgia Tech 5-6 3-5 -- --
10. North Carolina 3-8 1-7 Louisville (9/25) --
11. Duke 1-10 0-8 -- --


Readily Rising: Wake Forest
When Jim Grobe brought his wide-open, run-wild gameplan down Tobacco Road, folks thought it would never work in the athletic ACC. Four years later, the 'Deacs possess one of the conference's most promising offensive units. They are really starting to bring focused athletes into Winston-Salem. Grobe has won eighteen games in three years, including a bowl victory over Oregon in 2002. Things will surely get tougher with the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech (as well as Boston College in '05) to the ACC, but as long as Grobe is at the helm, Wake will contend.

Free Falling: Virginia Tech
For the last eight years, the Hokies sat pretty, atop the Big East with the Miami Hurricanes. The only teams they had to worry about were Miami, Syracuse, and sometimes West Virginia or Pitt. They owned (nearly) everyone on their weak schedule, propelling them to top tier bowl games on an annual basis. But the last few years, Tech has choked in games they were supposed to win, dropping them to late-December exhibitions (instead of New Year's Day ones). The Big East then and the ACC now are like apples and oranges- literally. Big East teams now play for the right to the (future) Apple Bowl, while ACC teams fight for access to the Orange Bowl. Look for Tech to slip to the middle of the pack for the next couple of years until they adjust to this tougher schedule.

Most to Prove: Miami
For so long, Florida State has owned this conference. But, for the last four years (totaling five games), the 'Canes have owned the 'Noles. Now Miami comes into FSU's conference territory, trying to steal their throne. Being in the heart of the recruiting hotbed that is the entire state of Florida, the 'Canes will continue to bring in stellar athletes, provided they can stay out of trouble. But they'll be going up more consistently against tougher competition. Miami will (naturally) come into this conference thinking they own it. The oft-chased Canes just found seven new predators aiming at the large targets on their back. Solid play from Brock Berlin will be the difference between an ACC championship and a birth in the…(gulp)…Gator Bowl.

Could Sneak Up: North Carolina
There's an (unusually) optimistic air passing through Chapel Hill. Sure, it happens at every spring practice, but UNC is unfathomably high on themselves for this campaign. Do they have solid reasoning? The 'Heels return 15 starters, 51 lettermen, and one of the conference's top recruiting classes. John Bunting knows that anything less than a (solid) winning season will expedite his exit, so he'll approach this year with the attitude of "nothing to lose". They have an experienced QB, a young (unknown, Shhh!!) running game, and an improved defense- all ingredients to get the underdog to start wagging his tail. This will be a much more aggressive Tar Heel team. I don't see them finishing in the top half of the ACC, but if anyone's to come out of the bushes, look no further than the boys in Carolina Blue.


Chappy's 2004 All-ACC Team
QB Chris Rix, Sr. - Florida State
RB T.A. McLendon, Jr. - N.C. State
RB Josh Allen, Jr. - Maryland
WR Craphonso Thorpe, Sr. - Florida State
WR Tramain Hall, Jr. - N.C. State
WR Jason Anderson, Sr. - Wake Forest
TE Heath Miller, Jr. - Virginia
OT Alex Barron, Sr. - Florida State
OG C.J. Brooks, Sr. - Maryland
C Jason Brown, Sr. - North Carolina
OG Chris Myers, Sr. - Miami
OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jr. - Virginia
.. ..
K Connor Hughes, Jr. - Virginia
KR Mike Mason, So. - North Carolina
DE Mario Williams, So. - N.C. State
DT Jonathan Lewis, Jr. - Virginia Tech
DT Travis Johnson, Sr. - Florida State
DE Thomas Carroll, Jr. - Miami
OLB Roger McIntosh, Jr. - Miami
ILB Ahmad Brooks, So. - Virginia
ILB D'Qwell Jackson, Jr. - Maryland
OLB Pat Thomas, Sr. - N.C. State
CB Eric King, Sr. - Wake Forest
SS Andre Maddox, Sr. - N.C. State
FS James Butler, Sr. - Georgia Tech
CB Antrel Rolle, Sr. - Miami
.. ..
P Ryan Plackemeier, Jr. - Wake Forest
PR Antrel Rolle, Sr. - Miami


Offensive Player of the Year QB: Chris Rix- Florida St
Defensive Player of the Year CB: Antrel Rolle- Miami
Special Teams Player of the Year: K/P Ryan Plackemeier- Wake Forest
Freshman of the Year: DE Khalif Mitchell- North Carolina


ACC's Top Units

Backfield Florida State
Starters QB Chris Rix, TB Lorenzo Booker, FB B.J. Dean
Backups RB Leon Washington, FB Torrence Washington, QB Wyatt Sexton, FB James Coleman
Potential Help from Newcomers RB Jamaal Edwards, QB Xavier Lee, QB drew Weatherford, RB Lamar Lewis
Next Best Miami

Receivers N.C. State
Starters WR Tramain Hall, WR Sterling Hicks, WR Richard Washington, TE T.J. Williams
Backups WR Brian Clark, WR Chris Hawkins, WR Lamart Barrett, WR Fred Span, TE John Richter, TE Jamesly Jean
Potential Help from Newcomers TE Octavius Darby, WR John Dunlap, TE Anthony Hill
Next Best (tie) Miami and Virginia

Offensive Line Florida State
Starters OT Alex Barron, OG Matt Meinrod, C David Castillo, OG Bobby Meeks, OT Ray Willis
Backups OT Mario Henderson, OG David Overmyer, C John Fray, OG Eric Broe, OT Ron Lunford
Potential Help from Newcomers OG Dumaka Atkins, OT Courtney Abbott, OT Jacky Claude, OT Geoff Bernaird, OG Cornelius Lewis
Next Best Virginia

Defensive Line Miami
Starters DE Baraka Atkins, DT Orien Harris, DT Santonio Thomas, DE Thomas Carroll
Backups DE Alton Wright, DT Kareem Brown, DT Dave Howell, DT Teraz McCray, DE Javon Nanton, DE Bryan Pata
Potential Help from Newcomers DE Rhyan Anderson, DE Dwayne Hendricks, DT Kellen Heard
Next Best Virginia Tech

Linebackers Virginia
Starters OLB Dennis Haley, ILB Kai Parham, ILB Ahmad Brooks, OLB Darryl Blackstock
Backups OLB Vince Redd, OLB Jermaine Dias, ILB Rich Bedesem, ILB Bryan White, OLB Mark Miller
Potential Help from Newcomers OLB Olu Hall, OLB Devonta Brown
Next Best N.C. State

Defensive Backs Clemson
Starters CB Tye Hill, CB Justin Miller, FS Travis Pugh, SS Jamaal Fudge
Backups CB Robert Reese, CB Sergio Gilliam, SS Tavaghn Monts, FS Roy Walker, SS Maurice Nelson
Potential Help from Newcomers FS Michael Hamlin, CB Adrian Kindred
Next Best Florida State

Special Teams Maryland
Starters PK Nick Novak, P Adam Podlesh, KR/PR Steve Suter
Backups PK Daniel Ennis, PR/KR Jo Jo Walker
Potential Help from Newcomers PK Obi Egekeze
Next Best Florida State


1. Florida State
2. N.C. State
3. Clemson
4. Miami
5. Wake Forest
1. Miami
2. Florida State
3. Georgia Tech
4. Virginia Tech
5. Maryland
9/6 Florida State at Miami Florida State
10/7 Clemson at Virginia Clemson
10/9 Virginia Tech at Wake Forest Wake Forest
10/23 Miami at N.C. State Miami
11/11 Florida State at N.C. State Florida State


Chappy's Nutshell
"Aim left, Xavier, aim left! But not too far left. Just not right. Oh, dad-gummit, just put it through the big yella' posts, son!" You know that has to be going through the mind of good ole Bobby Bowden. It's now five straight games the 'Noles have dropped to their neighbors from the south. But this year, things will change. Chris Rix will play (believe it or not) with confidence; the running game will produce a 1,000-yard gainer for the first time since '96, and the defense will rise to the challenges posed by coaches and critics. Bobby will find a way to get it done and guide his Seminoles to the top of the college football world. Miami will come oh-so-close, but dropping the opener to the 'Noles ultimately drops them out of both conference and national title contention. N.C. State has an outside shot of stealing it from the 'Noles and 'Canes, as both teams visit Carter-Finley. Many "experts" have Virginia finishing high in the ranks- I'm not buying. That is just too much talent to contend with, and there's not enough room at the top for everyone. The new additions will finally bring this conference to the same level as the Big XII, SEC, and (the waning) Big Ten.