- Heather Dinich, College Football Reporter
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As the only two teams from the ACC that are likely to be ranked in the Top 25 this preseason, Clemson and Florida State are undoubtedly contenders in 2013. What about the rest of the conference? Contenders or pretenders? Does Wake Forest actually have a shot at surprising the Atlantic Division this year? It has in the past. How about Duke? Will the Blue Devils be bowl eligible and relevant in November again this year? This series will give you our take, and let you give yours.
We’ll go in order of the final 2012 standings, starting today with the NC State Wolfpack:
Why they’re a contender: First-year coach Dave Doeren is a contender. His overall record at Northern Illinois was 23-4 over two years and 17-1 against MAC opponents. Last year, he led the Huskies to a school-record 12-win season that came on the heels of an 11-win season in 2011. Doeren won two straight MAC championships. Yes, the competition is better in the ACC, but NC State has hired a proven winner and he has re-energized the program.
Why they’re a pretender: No Mike Glennon. You know that old saying, "you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone?" Yeah, NC State fans are going to be singing that song this fall. The offense is now in the hands of either Manny Stocker, a sophomore who has yet to take a collegiate snap, or Pete Thomas, a former transfer from Colorado State. At least Thomas has some game experience. He was a two-year starter at Colorado State and threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Final verdict: Pretender. There are too many new faces in key places -- in the secondary, on the offensive line, at quarterback, at coordinator -- for NC State to challenge FSU or Clemson this year for the division title. With a new quarterback AND a complete staff overhaul, it will be too much for the Pack to overcome.
As the only two teams from the ACC that are likely to be ranked in the Top 25 this preseason, Clemson and Florida State are undoubtedly contenders in 2013.