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Thursday, August 30, 2012
Countdown to kickoff: No. 2

By Heather Dinich

TWO!!!! Only two more days until NC State kicks off against Tennessee in Atlanta. If you don’t know what this countdown is by now, wake up!

The countdown to kickoff continues with ...

No. 2: A national title contender. This is a reason for ACC fans to be doing David-Wilson-style back-flips. Here’s the thing, though: Is Florida State for real? Really real? Or will No. 7 in the Associated Press Top 25 be a fleeting, forgettable moment? There’s a reason this isn’t No. 1 on the list, and it’s because Florida State still has a lot to prove -- like, you know, winning the ACC for the first time since 2005. OK, OK, enough with the reality check, though. This list is about reasons to be excited for ACC football, and if you look at Florida State’s roster, and you’ve seen these players with your own eyes, you’ll find it hard to see a glaring weakness. The offensive line will be young, but it will also be better. The defensive line will be one of the best in the country, if not the best. Quarterback EJ Manuel could be a Heisman contender, and the depth on the roster could field two starting lineups. This team has the potential to be great, and to represent the ACC well at the BCS level. And after a 2-13 record in BCS bowls, the ACC could certainly use a winner on the national stage. Right now, the Noles are the league’s best hope.

No. 3 The Discover Orange Bowl
No. 4: Labor Day
No. 5: The winningest active coach in college football
No. 6: The ACC championship game
No. 7: Florida State's defensive line
No. 8: Thursday night games
No. 9: Atlanta
No. 10: NC State's secondary
No. 11: SEC rivalry games
No. 12: Virginia Tech's 10-game winning streak
No. 13: Florida State vs. Clemson
No. 14: North Carolina vs. NC State
No. 15: Unofficial state championships
No. 16: Talented true freshmen
No. 17: Unpredictability
No. 18: ACC vs. Notre Dame
No. 19: Clemson's offensive playmakers
No. 20: The ACC's record chasers
No. 21: Larry Fedora
No. 22: One of the nation's top rushing offenses
No. 23: The last season before expansion
No. 24: Brent Venables
No. 25: A fresh start at Maryland