Before the chat was cut short this afternoon, one of the more popular questions was “Do you think (insert your team here) can run the table and go undefeated the rest of the season?”
Well, let’s take a closer look at the schedules and narrow down which programs have the best shot, starting with the most likely team:
1. Florida State
The lineup: Maryland, NC State, at Boston College, Miami, Virginia, at Florida
The analysis: The Seminoles’ next three opponents are a combined 6-12. If FSU doesn’t come out of that stretch 3-0, Jimbo Fisher has bigger problems this year than we thought. The toughest game in this lineup, as of right now, looks like the home game against Miami. Florida, which is 2-3 in the SEC right now, is definitely beatable. Again.
The prediction: The Noles rebound from a disappointing first-half of the season and the win over Duke was the start of a seven-game winning streak. The loss to Wake Forest? It was the last for FSU in 2011.
The lineup: North Carolina, at Georgia Tech, open, Wake Forest, at NC State, at South Carolina
The analysis: The next two weeks will be the most difficult for Clemson and determine whether or not the Tigers will remain a top 10 team in the BCS Standings. At the same time, though, Clemson’s most challenging half of the season is behind it. Now it’s more a matter of how they handle success and prepare each week as a national title contender. The team most likely to ruin Clemson’s undefeated streak will be Georgia Tech. Having seen both teams live, though, Clemson looks better.
The prediction: Clemson will win the Atlantic Division, but it will not survive the second half of the season unscathed. Clemson fans are tired of hearing about the “same old Clemson,” but it took years for the program to earn its reputation as one of the most inconsistent in the country, notorious for losing to teams it shouldn’t, and it will likely take just as long to shake that shadow. Clemson will beat Georgia Tech. But it’s just like Clemson to lose at NC State.
3. Virginia Tech
The lineup: Boston College, at Duke, open, at Georgia Tech, North Carolina, at Virginia
The analysis: I still remember 2009, when the Hokies lost back-to-back games against Georgia Tech and UNC. It’s a cautionary reminder that nobody is guaranteed anything in the ACC but an unpredictable race. At the same time, the last time I said Virginia Tech wouldn’t go undefeated (last year), that’s exactly what the Hokies did after their 0-2 start.
The prediction: This is a tough call. There’s a fine line separating Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech right now, and we need that head-to-head competition to settle it. My gut? Virginia Tech trips up against either Georgia Tech or UNC, but not both.
The lineup: Georgia Tech, Virginia, Duke, at Florida State, at South Florida, Boston College.
The analysis: Flip a coin for this week’s game against Georgia Tech. Both teams really need this Coastal Division win. Back-to-back road trips to in-state opponents FSU and South Florida won’t be easy, and last year’s 23-20 overtime loss to South Florida was the last straw for former Miami coach Randy Shannon. Odds are the Canes don’t let that one get away this year. There’s no reason Miami shouldn’t come out on the winning end of this final stretch, but undefeated?
The prediction: No. 1 on this list kind of gave it away. I already predicted an undefeated run for FSU, which means no win for Miami in Tallahassee this year. If the Canes can find some consistency, though, that might be their only loss from here on out.