1. Florida State (8-4)
2. Clemson (7-5)
3. Wake Forest (8-4)
4. Boston College (7-5)
5. North Carolina State (5-7)
6. Maryland (5-7)
1. Georgia Tech (10-2)
2. Virginia Tech (10-2)
3. North Carolina (9-3)
4. Miami FL (7-5)
5. Virginia (6-6)
6. Duke (3-9)


CLEMSON - The Tigers are far removed from the Top 10 preseason expectations of a year ago...the same ones that got them pounded by Alabama in the season opener and the same ones that got head coach Tommy Bowden fired. The expectations are much lower considering last year's fate and the fact offensive highlight players like QB Cullen Harper, RB James Davis and WR Aaron Kelly have moved on. But Clemson wins with defense, a healthier offensive line and C.J. Spiller carrying the ball and returning kicks. The Atlantic Division is up for grabs and the Tigers are on the looser side.
BOSTON COLLEGE - The defending Atlantic Division champs were in a good position of protecting the crown just five months ago. Then possibly the best linebacker in the country, Mark Herzlich, was diagnosed with cancer at about the same time QB Dominique Davis decided to transfer out of Boston leaving the spot behind center in a huge quagmire of uncertainty. Maybe Billie Flutie could get a shot behind center after all.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: RB Jonathan Dwyer - Georgia Tech
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DB Morgan Burnett - Georgia Tech
TOP NEWCOMER: RB Ryan Williams - Virginia Tech
TOP BLOCKER: Rodney Hudson - Florida State

QB Riley Skinner - Sr. - Wake Forest
RB Jonathan Dwyer - Jr. - Georgia Tech
RB C.J. Spiller - Sr. - Clemson
WR Jacoby Ford - Sr. - Clemson
WR Demaryius Thomas - Jr. - Georgia Tech
TE Greg Boone - Sr. - Virginia Tech
OL Anthony Castonzo - Jr. - Boston College
OL Sergio Render - Sr. - Virginia Tech
OL Ryan McMahon - Jr. - Florida State
OL Rodney Hudson - Jr. - Florida State
OL Thomas Austin - Sr. - Clemson
K   Matt Bosher - Jr. - Miami FL
KR C.J. Spiller - Sr. - Clemson

DL Jason Worilds - Jr. - Virginia Tech
DL Derrick Morgan - Jr. - Georgia Tech
DL Vince Oghobaase - Sr. - Duke
DL Boo Robinson - Sr. - Wake Forest
LB Alex Wujciak - Jr. - Maryland
LB Nate Irving - Jr. - North Carolina State
LB Quan Sturdivant - Jr. - North Carolina
DB Ras-I Dowling - Jr. - Virginia
DB Morgan Burnett - Jr. - Georgia Tech
DB Kendric Burney - Jr. - North Carolina
DB Patrick Robinson - Sr. - Florida State
P   Travis Baltz - Jr. - Maryland
PR Travis Benjamin - So. - Miami FL

1. Riley Skinner - Wake Forest
2. Russell Wilson - North Carolina State
3. Thaddeus Lewis - Duke

1. Georgia Tech (Jonathan Dwyer, Lucas Cox, Roddy Jones)
2. Maryland (Da'Rel Scott, Davin Meggett, Morgan Green)
3. Miami FL (Graig Cooper, Javarris James, Patrick Hill)

1. Virginia Tech (Danny Coale, Jarrett Boykin, Dyrell Roberts, Greg Boone)
2. North Carolina State (Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams, T.J. Graham, George Bryan)
3. Miami FL (Aldarius Johnson, Travis Benjamin, LaRon Byrd, Thearon Collier)

1. Florida State (Andrew Datko, Rodney Hudson, Ryan McMahon, David Spurlock, Zebrie Sanders)
2. Boston College (Anthony Castonzo, Matt Tennant, Thomas Claiborne, Rich Lapham, Nathan Richman)
3. Wake Forest (Chris DeGeare, Barrett McMillin, Russell Nenon, Jeff Griffin, Joe Birdsong)

1. Virginia Tech (Jason Worilds, Cordarrow Thompson, John Graves, Nekos Brown)
2. Clemson (Da'Quan Bowers, Jarvis Jenkins, Brandon Thompson, Kevin Alexander, Ricky Sapp)
3. Miami FL (Eric Moncur, Marcus Forston, Allen Bailey, Marcus Robinson, Joe Joseph)

1. Miami FL (Sean Spence, Darryl Sharpton, Colin McCarthy)
2. North Carolina (Bruce Carter, Quan Sturdivant, Zach Brown)
3. Florida State (Dekoda Watson, Kendall Smith, Nigel Bradham)

1. Clemson (Chris Chancellor, Crezdon Butler, DeAndre McDaniel, Sadat Chambers)
2. Georgia Tech (Mario Butler, Rashaad Reid, Morgan Burnett, Dominique Reese)
3. Virginia Tech (Stephan Virgil, Rashad Carmichael, Dorian Porch, Kam Chancellor)


1. Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (Oct. 17)
2. Miami FL at Virginia Tech (Sept. 26)
3. Florida State at North Carolina (Sept. 7 - Thursday)
4. Miami FL at Georgia Tech (Sept. 17 - Thursday)
5. Wake Forest at Clemson (Oct. 17)

1. Alabama vs. Virginia Tech @Atlanta, GA (Sept. 5)
2. Georgia at Georgia Tech (Nov. 28)
3. TCU at Clemson (Sept. 26)
4. Oklahoma at Miami FL (Oct. 3)
5. South Florida at Florida State (Sept. 26)


1. Ray Ray Armstrong ATH Samford, FL Miami FL
2. Jacobbi McDaniel DT Madison, FL Florida State
3. Donte Moss DE Jacksonville, NC North Carolina
4. Greg Reid DB Valdosta, GA Florida State
5. Willie Downs ATH Tallahassee, FL Florida State
6. Malliciah Goodman DE Florence, SC Clemson
7. David Wilson RB Danville, VA Virginia Tech
8. Jheranie Boyd WR Gastonia, NC North Carolina
9. Morgan Moses OL Richmond, VA Virginia
10. Tajh Boyd QB Hampton, VA Clemson


STRENGTHS: The offense should continue to be big and strong along the offensive line with four of five starters returning while RBs Montel Harris and Josh Haden are more than capable ball carriers. Defensively, big tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace have moved on to the NFL. But beware of their incumbents Ramsey and Scafe. The drop-off on this front line is actually pretty slim.

CONCERNS: Two off-season misfortunes have cast an early dark cloud over this program as the team's best player at any position and one of the front-runners for the Butkus Award, LB Mark Herzlich, was diagnosed with cancer. Making matters worse, the QB situation did not shake out too well at the close of spring. Dominique Davis held on to the starting role but was then dismissed from the team for academic reasons and will now transfer leaving a former fullback and a guy that played on the scout team last season as the two that will battle it out this August.

PROGNOSIS: Frank Spaziani will be the third Eagle head coach in four years. Despite the coaching and player turnover, BC continues to be one of the most consistent programs in the conference. Their 30-11 overall record is the best of any Atlantic Division team over the past three seasons. Expect most opposing defenses to be geared towards shutting down the run with the passing attack being one big question mark. With all the issues at QB, they will have a very difficult time of repeating as champions.


STRENGTHS: If defense wins championships, Clemson is in a fine position. From top to bottom this is the best defense in the ACC. Eight starters are back headlined by defensive ends Da'Quan Bowers, Kevin Alexander and Ricky Sapp. Cornerbacks Chris Chancellor and Crezdon Butler are both seniors and are worthy of earning All-ACC status by season's end. C.J. Spiller is one of the fastest ball carriers anywhere and he now inherits the spotlight. Injuries crippled the offensive line last year. Through the process, this group is much improved than the one that took the field a year ago.

CONCERNS: The offensive skill positions took a huge hit with the losses of QB Cullen Harper, RB James Davis and WR Aaron Kelly (the top receiver in ACC history). The battle behind center was left in a dead heap through the spring. Redshirt frosh Kyle Parker is the passing option with a rocket arm, although he has spent the off-season on the Clemson baseball squad. Willie Korn is the dual-threat option. Expect to see both through out the course of the season. Only one starter returns to a depleted receiving unit.

PROGNOSIS: The running game and superior defense looks to be the formula in 2009. If the defense can meet the expectations Clemson can win the Atlantic Division. They won't carry the same lofty preseason expectations of a year ago, which bodes well as Clemson never seems to fare so well under this umbrella. Some prognosticators have pegged Clemson as the surprise team in the ACC.


This offensive line has made a huge turnaround since the arrival of line coach Rick Trickett. With every starter returning across this front, this unit has gone from being the league's worst to the league's best. OG Rodney Hudson continues to be one of the best blockers in the ACC. At QB Christian Ponder is doing more with this offense utilizing his feet. His threat to run helps the ground game immensely and he has a firm mental grasp on what coaches are trying to create.

CONCERNS: The secondary has its work cut out especially at safety where talent is extremely thin. While FSU manages to harass QBs with a pass rush, the interior of the defensive front line has taken a drop. Stopping opponents from running with the ball will continue to be a problem. There is some young talent at receiver, but with the team's top playmaker Preston Parker getting dismissed this off-season and speedster Bert Reed dealing with an off-season injury that could linger into the fall, a group of extremely young faces will be the only option in terms of improving a weak passing game.

PROGNOSIS: Bobby Bowden continues to fare well in the recruiting department but player dismissals and transfers continue to hamper their winning efforts. The offensive line will be the key to how far the Noles climb in the standings. Defensively, long time coordinator Mickey Andrews fields a group that is a far cry from the days of old where attacking was the name of the game. They will have trouble stopping the run and defending the pass, which makes their fortunes hard to predict. FSU continues to be the most penalized team in the ACC which makes winning the close games in this league of parity extremely difficult.


STRENGTHS: The offensive skill positions are stacked...probably more so than coach Friedgen has operated with since arriving in College Park. Senior QB Chris Turner finally gives this offense a steady player with quality experience behind center. The running backs go three and four deep. Da'Rell Scott is proving to be one of the best ball carriers in the league when he remains healthy while Morgan Green and Davin Meggett complete the package. The receivers are extremely young but full of speed and talent despite the fact Darrius Heyward-Bey bolted early for the NFL. Alex Wujciak is the best tackler on defense from his middle linebacker position and the secondary should be much improved.

CONCERNS: If games are won up front the Terps have a major problem. Only one full time starter (C Phil Costa) is back on either side of the line of scrimmage. Bruce Campbell offers some promise at offensive tackle but beyond those two every position is one big question mark. The defensive line too has many issues where four new starters have to be located. Injuries and academic problems have not helped the unit's cause this spring. The Terps will struggle getting pressure and plugging holes, which puts a ton of pressure on the other positions.

PROGNOSIS: QB Chris Turner is not a capable scrambler. His success depends on having time in issue that could cripple this team if not fixed with new faces providing the protection. While the skill positions look fine, the line of scrimmage is another story. The Terps won't fare well when facing off against teams with quality linemen.


STRENGTHS: Freshman Russell Wilson was tabbed the First Team All-ACC QB just last season. His progression allowed NC State to turn their early misfortunes into a bowl game invitation. His feet and decision making have been quite impressive thus far as he only tossed one interception to go with his 17 touchdowns. While Russell's pass catching targets have yet to become a household name, this year's version will be full of experience. The receiving numbers will get better as Wilson continues to grow.

CONCERNS: The secondary has to replace starters Jeremy Grey and J.C. Neal from a unit that was dead last in the ACC at defending the pass. The offensive line has some work to do and depth appears limited. This area will be critical, as the success of the big power backs has seen a major drop off in the running game.

PROGNOSIS: The Wolf Pack has not seen a winning ACC record since 2002. Head coach Tom O'Brien has his team on the right track after winning their last four conference games a year ago. While they are not going to push for a divisional crown, they will continue to play with anyone on any given Saturday as long as Russell Wilson lines up behind center.


STRENGTHS: Former ACC Offensive Player of the Year Riley Skinner returns for his senior campaign. One of the most accurate passers in the country, Skinner makes Jim Grobe's offense difficult to defend. The offensive line returns four starters and 2007 starter Chris DeGeare returns after sitting last year due to academics. A strong rushing defense boasts three returning starters on the defensive line. Senior tackles Boo Robinson and John Russell form a steady anchor in the middle.

CONCERNS: The Deacs need someone to step up at the receiver position to allow Skinner's short range passing skills to meet the potential. Cornerback Brandon Ghee is the only returning starter on the defensive back seven as some hefty names now playing at the next level are gone, which includes Butkus Award winner Aaron Curry and CB Alphonso Smith.

PROGNOSIS: Head coach Jim Grobe always seems to get maximum results out of his lesser-known recruits. Skinner, a solid offensive line and RB Josh Adams all offer a great deal of optimism on the offensive side but the question marks on defense where the top five tacklers have departed loom large. Three new players will take over at linebacker and the secondary must also replace three quality starters. The Deacs will be competitive as always, just not good enough to win a conference crown. But we have heard this analogy before only to see Wake Forest rattle off three consecutive non-losing seasons. Expect nothing less.



STRENGTHS: QB Thaddeus Lewis (Second Team All-ACC in 2008) is one of the more productive returning passers in the ACC after producing an average of 206 yards per game. Getting big play running back Re'quan Boyette back into the lineup after losing him to injury a year ago is a big boast to a rushing offense that was second worst in the league. The defensive line has one of the best tackles nationally in Vince Oghobaase while DE Ayanga Okpokowuruk is a quality end.

CONCERNS: The leading tackler (LB Michael Tauiliili) from three of the last four years has moved on. To duplicate the positive strides made on defense the Blue Devils need to replace two starters on the DL, at LB and in the secondary. The holes are spread all across this side of the ball. With the departure of All-ACC receiver Eron Riley, a new favorite target will have to be located for Lewis. The big question is up front on the OL where three starters are gone.

PROGNOSIS: Duke has some offensive firepower in QB Thaddeus Lewis and RB Re'quan Boyette. But gone is half of their '08 team, which does not bode well for getting this team out of the ACC basement. If the offensive line can produce more than what's expected, Duke has a chance to outscore a few of the lesser opponents on the schedule. Expect the improvements of last year's defense to take a few steps back.


STRENGTHS: The entire rushing offense. Everyone responsible for making Paul Johnson's triple-option attach so successful is back. The ACC's No. 1 ranked rushing offense (292 yards per game) returns QB Josh Nesbitt, RBs Lucas Cox, Roddy Jones and ACC Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer. The entire back seven on defense returns all but one starter.

CONCERNS: Both offensive tackles need replaced. The position hit the hardest by departures is the defensive line and Tech lost some good ones here in Vance Walker, Darryl Richard and Michael Johnson.

PROGNOSIS: Georgia Tech has the most starters returning out of all the ACC teams. When looking for a surprise team on the national landscape look no further than Atlanta. Anything less than a ten win season would be a disappointment in just Paul Johnson's second year. Retooling the defensive line is the whole key to the success and/or failures of this team. For those that wandered if this offensive scheme would work at the BCS level, the answer has already been a resounding YES! Look for the expectations and results to keep growing.


STRENGTHS: No doubt the RB tandem of Graig Cooper and Javarris James represents the best unit on either side of the ball. No reason exists why this should not be one of the better rushing attacks in the conference. This group of linebackers, if healthy, has the potential to turn around the rushing defense woes of 2008. Getting LB Colin McCarthy back to 100% appears to be a top priority. Eric Moncur's return for another year at defensive end will also help bolster the efforts up front.

CONCERNS: QB Robert Marve transferred leaving Jacory Harris in sole control of the offense after sharing the role last season. When Harris struggles as he has done in the past, the answer behind him will have to come from a player that has yet to take a college snap. The offensive line has been a sore spot in the team's recent downturn. They are still dealing with issues that have to be addressed quickly.

PROGNOSIS: Shockingly, Miami has not had a winning record in the ACC since 2005. While many were calling this team the youngest in college football a year ago they still have quite a few gaps that need to be much improved before they can start to get back to their winning ways of old. The QB spot still is not set in a way to accomplish such a return just yet. But their recruiting successes afford them the ability to stay in the Coastal Division hunt.


STRENGTHS: The front four on defense have a chance to be special led by former super recruit Marvin Austin at defensive tackle. Despite the loss of LB Mark Paschal and safety Trimane Goddard, the rest of the back seven is blessed with plenty of experience and talent and is a big reason why UNC carries lofty expectations.

CONCERNS: The receiving corps took some huge hits in the playmaker department with the losses of Brandon Tate, Brooks Foster and Hakeem Nicks who skipped off early for the NFL. Losing Richard Quinn at tight end does not help either. Last season's predominant starter at QB (Cameron Sexton) decided to transfer leaving the job to injury riddled T.J. Yates.

PROGNOSIS: Four teams are capable of winning the Coastal Division and Carolina is one of them. The Heels lose just 14 lettermen, the fewest in the ACC and coach Butch Davis' recruiting success is starting to pan out. UNC is getting some Top 25 love in the preseason polls and expectations have not been this high in a long time. They will need more out of the offensive side before they can make serious noise, which includes locating a quality playmaker. The overall stats look meager from a year ago, but the talent level is also as high as it has been in a while.


The secondary should be tremendous and represents the fastest group of players Al Groh has had in his nine-year tenure. The return of Chris Cook from a one-year academic suspension is a big lift and cornerback Ras-I Dowling is progressing into a dangerous player. The offensive line has four starters back in the mix but took a big loss when OT Eugene Monroe moved on to the NFL as a Top 10 draft choice. Their run blocking skills have to improve before being taken seriously.

CONCERNS: No one on the roster stands out on the receiving depth chart. Gone are full-time starters Kevin Ogletree, Maurice Covington and TE John Phillips. The Cavaliers also lost some hefty linebackers. Ergo, the ability to stuff the run continues to be a sizeable question mark.

PROGNOSIS: In all three seasons under ex-offensive coordinator Mike Groh, the offense ranked below 100th nationally in total production. The running game was ranked dead last in the conference last fall although the return of RB Mikell Simpson provides some hope. Promising youngster Jameel Sewell returns at QB for his final season after a one-year academic hiatus and Marc Verica started to improve immensely as a passer last season. UVA will be instituting a new quick-hitting passing attack and finally has some experienced signal callers to operate the scheme. The Cavs should be much better than the 5-7 record put up last fall but it will be awful tough overcoming the front-runners in the Coastal Division.


STRENGTHS: The entire offense should be more than qualified heading into 2009 as opposed to the youth they were forced to employ just a year ago. Tyrod Taylor is a shifty QB and All-ACC RB Darren Evans looks poised to break most of the school's rushing records before his time is done. The receivers are blessed with a ton of youthful but speedy bodies and the offensive line may be the deepest they have had in years. Expect more yards and much more scoring compared to the ball control offense utilized last fall.

CONCERNS: Tech needs to replace both inside linebackers for the second straight year. The experience on the defensive side is not quite as stocked as has been in years past. A top rated cornerback must be found to replace Macho Harris.

PROGNOSIS: The Hokies continue to hold the rope for the ACC in terms of maintaining a Top 10 caliber type of team. They are coming off their second straight ACC title and BCS bowl invitation after fighting through a complete rebuilding effort in 2008. Frank Beamer is a miraculous coach and he has plenty of talent to work with this time around. They don't have to play FSU or Clemson out of the Atlantic Division and they will host Coastal rival Miami in Blacksburg. Knocking VT off the top of the hill will be much harder to accomplish than it was a year ago.



Every Friday from 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM ET, you can listen to Site Owner Todd Helmick break down college football - live and in studio - on WNST 1570 AM Baltimore Sports Talk. Or you can listen live via internet stream at

Todd maintains several college football shows per week nationwide and makes numerous radio guest appearances from small to large towns everywhere. We'll talk about your home topic is too sacred.

If you are interested in having Site Owner Todd Helmick as a guest on your radio show, please email: