ACC: Coastal Division


Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


Thank goodness for the ACC Coastal Division. It’s carrying the conference right now. Look at the teams that are still hanging around in the Associated Press Top 25 this week -- No. 13 Virginia Tech, No. 14 Georgia Tech, No. 20 Miami and No. 24 North Carolina.

It’s unfortunate those teams play each other so early. Before September is over, Miami will have played Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech will have played Miami and North Carolina. And Virginia Tech will have played Miami.

It’s a month for deciding late-season tiebreakers, and for the possibility of a new leader in the division -- and the conference -- to emerge. Of course, depending on how Miami fares, the Oct. 17 game between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will also play a large role in determining the division race.

It’s great for the conference to have four nationally ranked teams, but considering they all play each other early, how long will it last?

Meanwhile, Boston College is -- surprise -- atop the Atlantic Division standings. The Eagles got 19 votes in the Top 25 this week -- more than Clemson (10) and Florida State (1). Will they keep that spot? Not if Clemson plays the way it did in the second half against Georgia Tech. But Florida State’s flop against Jacksonville State (P.S., they won) gave way to reasonable doubt about who will be the best team in the Atlantic Division. Until those teams show marked improvement against legitimate BCS conference opponents, it’s fair to call the parity in that division mediocrity.

The toss-up in the Coastal Division, though, is shaping up to be more of what the conference coaches had intended -- improved teams that make for a deep competition. Yes, it’s still early -- only September -- but for the stronger Coastal Division, that’s the problem.

Video: Previewing the ACC

August, 19, 2009
8/19/09
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Ivan Maisel and Heather Dinich preview the 2009 ACC season.

Bowl bound in the ACC?

August, 11, 2009
8/11/09
10:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It's never too early to start making bowl predictions (or, in the ACC case it's never too late, as 11 teams were still bowl eligible in 2008 right up until the final week of the season). Today the bloggers are breaking down each team's chance to be bowl-bound, and the categories are "count on it," "possibly," and "forget about it." Will the ACC manage to get 10 teams bowl eligible again? Possibly. Take a look:

BOSTON COLLEGE
Bowl bound? Possibly.
Best case: Dave Shinskie looks like Chris Weinke, the entire team rallies around the absence and inspiration of linebacker Mark Herzlich, and once again the Eagles prove the doubters wrong.
Worst case: Dave Shinskie's fastball is better than his spiral, the defense fails to plug the holes at linebacker and up front, and the Eagles struggle to get more than four wins in a transition year.
Prediction: At-large bowl

CLEMSON
Bowl bound?
Count on it.
Best case: The offensive line paves the way for a 1,000-yard rusher and protects the new quarterback for a 1,000-yard receiver, and the Tigers shine when there are no expectations en route to the Atlantic Division title.
Worst case: Quarterbacks Kyle Parker and Willy Korn never quite get into a rhythm because they're sharing time, the offensive line isn't quite as good as people think it will be, and Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Billy Napier are outcoached en route to a mediocre season.
Prediction: Meineke Car Care Bowl

DUKE
Bowl bound? Forget about it.
Best case: Smart coaching plus the talent of quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and veteran tailback Re'quan Boyette earn the Blue Devils two conference upsets and they surprise Kansas on the road for a perfect nonconference slate.
Worst case: Duke's defense looks like it did against Georgia Tech last year, no receivers step up to replace Eron Riley, the offense line can't protect their little sisters, and the Blue Devils remain status quo from 2008.
Prediction: Christmas in Durham.

FLORIDA STATE
Bowl bound? Count on it.
Best case: Florida State wins its appeal against the NCAA, the Noles find more talent at receiver than anyone knew they had, and the defense reloads as the program skyrockets back into the national picture with an ACC title.
Worst case: Florida State loses its appeal, and Bobby Bowden announces his retirement after a subpar season in which off-field distractions kept the Noles out of the hunt for the Atlantic Division.
Prediction: Chick-fil-A Bowl

GEORGIA TECH
Bowl bound? Count on it.
Best case: Jonathan Dwyer wins the Heisman Trophy, the defensive line somehow finds a way to be even better than it was last year, and a home win over Georgia pales in comparison to an Orange Bowl win.
Worst case: The Jackets lose by a painful three points to Virginia Tech, lose in overtime to UNC, and Georgia studies the LSU film well enough to make it look like a regular-season rerun of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Prediction: Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl

MARYLAND
Bowl bound? Possibly.
Best case: The offensive line lives up to last year's expectations, Chris Turner is as steady as a metronome, and Don Brown's defense has ACC opponents' heads spinning for a nine-win season.
Worst case: The offensive line looks like Clemson's did last year, Turner throws four picks against Middle Tennessee at home, and Maryland's front seven allows Darren Evans another career day.
Prediction: Eagle Bank Bowl

MIAMI
Bowl bound? Count on it.
Best case: The Canes shock the country with a 4-0 start, Jacory Harris and Mark Whipple are hailed as the saviors of the offense, and Miami skyrockets into the top 10 ranking with an unforgettable upset of Oklahoma.
Worst case: Randy Shannon starts polishing his résumé after an 0-4 start.
Prediction: Champs Sports Bowl

NORTH CAROLINA
Bowl bound?
Count on it.
Best case: Quarterback T.J. Yates survives the entire season without so much as a scratch, the young receivers find a rhythm with him just in time for a road trip to Georgia Tech, and the Tar Heels knock off Miami and Virginia Tech to win the Coastal Division title.
Worst case: Yates goes down against Connecticut, and the Tar Heels are forced to muddle through six weeks without a proven backup.
Prediction: Emerald Bowl

NC STATE
Bowl bound? Count on it.
Best case: The Pack starts off strong instead of making a desperate push at the end, the defense welcomes back linebacker Nate Irving, and quarterback Russell Wilson scurries his way to the Atlantic Division title.
Worst case: The Pack starts off 2-2 and the defense can't get the pieces together in the secondary or at linebacker, and NC State is forced to win its final five games to become bowl eligible.
Prediction: Konica Minolta Gator Bowl

VIRGINIA
Bowl bound? Forget about it.
Best case: Gregg Brandon's offense looks like Urban Meyer's, Mikell Simpson looks like he did in 2007, and the linebackers make a seamless transition en rout
e to helping Al Groh looking like a coaching genius in a year of serious transition.
Worst case: 2009 looks exactly like 2008, with embarrassing nonconference losses, three points against Duke, and a four-game losing streak to end a second straight bowless season.
Prediction: Home for the holidays.

VIRGINIA TECH
Bowl bound? Count on it.
Best case: The Hokies' offense comes alive under for the first time in four seasons, and Virginia Tech sets the tone for a national championship with a win over Alabama.
Worst case: For the fourth straight year, the Hokies are ranked 99th or worse in total offense, the Alabama game resembles last year's Clemson debacle, and Georgia Tech gets the nod in the Coastal Division race.
Prediction: FedEx Orange Bowl

WAKE FOREST
Bowl bound? Possibly
Best case: Behind an improved offensive line, quarterback Riley Skinner and a trio of talented running backs carry the team while the defense finds new playmakers, and the Demon Deacons knock off Florida State (again) for a surprise run at the Atlantic Division.
Worst case: The Demon Deacons bookend the season with losses to Baylor and Duke, and struggle to replace the NFL-caliber talent that departed on defense in between.
Prediction: GMAC Bowl

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

  • Among the various artists I have on my iPod right now are Tupac, Flo Rida, and T.I. (don't pigeon-hole me, please, I've also got Metallica, the Cranberries, and The Rolling Stones). Point is, I can think of a lot of other hip-hop artists I'd rather have as my university president than T-Pain, who started a "cam-pain" for the FSU gig. Sure, he can "Buy U a Drank," but, as outgoing president T.K. Wetherell wants to know, "Can he lobby the Legislature?" 
  • The economy is hurting, and so are Maryland's ticket sales. Not exactly the ideal time to try to sell luxury suites, and that's exactly what Maryland needs to do. 
  • When Virginia opens camp this weekend, first-year offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon will be looking for a few receivers who can make his spread offense work.
  • Clemson is gingerly going to ease Jacoby Ford back into drills. No need to clobber one of the fastest guys in the country before the season starts.
  • Tony Barnhart tackled the ACC Atlantic on Wednesday, and today he scouts the Coastal Division.
  • Staying in the Coastal Division, here are five questions facing Miami -- the first and most important being whether the Canes can win the ACC. The answer is yes.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

ACC fans won't have to wait long to find out who's got the edge in the Coastal Division this year, but the race won't be wrapped up in September, despite three key games that will have an immediate impact on the division standings.

You'll have to wait until October.

That's the month the Coastal Division will be decided -- and Miami doesn't even play one divisional game in October.

September is all about Georgia Tech and Miami. The Canes will head into November having played Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. If they lose one or both of those games, their hopes at winning a tiebreaker situation will be shot. The same can be said for Georgia Tech, which can't afford to lose to Miami and UNC. The Jackets are all-too familiar with losing the tiebreaker situation after last year's loss to Virginia Tech. It does come back to haunt you.

Neither Georgia Tech nor Miami can afford to start September 0-2. The only way I see this playing out into late November like it did last season is if Miami starts September 2-0 against its Coastal Division opponents, and considering what happened last year to the Canes against Paul Johnson's offense, there's not exactly a lot of faith that this year will be much different defensively. And Miami will be playing in Lane Stadium, which isn't exactly going to be rolling out the welcome mat. The best thing Miami has going for it in September is the bye week heading into the Georgia Tech game.

Now, Miami and Georgia Tech might seal their fates in September, but hold off any Hokie celebrations just yet.

The game that will define the season will be played on Oct. 17, when Virginia Tech travels to Georgia Tech. The Jackets lost by three points last year, and outgained the Hokies on the ground. Sure, UNC has a chance to dethrone the Hokies on Oct. 29, and it should be a great game, but Virginia Tech will be coming off a bye week and will have home-field advantage against the Heels.

Bottom line: September is the month for Miami to show what it's made of. October is the month Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and North Carolina will establish the pecking order. November is the month for Duke to play spoiler, and for Miami to salvage the season with a 3-0 record against the Coastal Division. December is the month it all pays off.

Check out how the Coastal Division schedule shakes out:

SEPTEMBER
Georgia Tech vs. Miami (Sept. 17)
Georgia Tech vs. UNC (Sept. 26)
Miami vs. Virginia Tech (Sept. 26)

OCTOBER
Duke vs. Virginia Tech (Oct. 3)
UNC vs. UVA (Oct. 3)
Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech (Oct. 17)
Georgia Tech vs. UVA (Oct. 24)
UNC vs. Virginia Tech (Oct. 29)
Duke vs. UVA (Oct. 31)

NOVEMBER
Duke vs. UNC (Nov. 7)
Miami vs. UVA (Nov. 7)
Duke vs. Georgia Tech (Nov. 14)
Miami vs. UNC (Nov. 14)
Duke vs. Miami (Nov. 21)
Virginia Tech vs. Virginia (Nov. 28)

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The results are in, and Virginia Tech was predicted to win the ACC championship -- again. Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer was picked as the 2009 Preseason ACC Player of the Year. There were 87 total votes.

Here's how the voting broke down:

ATLANTIC DIVISION

  1. Florida State (56)
  2. Clemson (14)
  3. NC State (10)
  4. Wake Forest (7)
  5. Maryland
  6. Boston College

COASTAL DIVISION

  1. Virginia Tech (78)
  2. Georgia Tech (9)
  3. North Carolina
  4. Miami
  5. Virginia
  6. Duke

PREDICTED ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WINNER

  1. Virginia Tech (69)
  2. Florida State (7), Georgia Tech (7)
  3. Clemson (2), NC State (2)

2009 PRESEASON ACC PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech (39, and Happy Belated Birthday to Dwyer, who turned 20 on Sunday)
  2. C.J. Spiller, Clemson, (28)
  3. Russell Wilson, NC State (16)
  4. Christian Ponder, FSU; Vic Hall, Virginia; Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech; Riley Skinner, Wake Forest (1)

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

While you were chewing on the lunchtime links, I snuck out today and snagged as many preseason magazines as I could find at Borders. I got Athlon, Lindy's, Yahoo! Sports and rivals.com, Sporting News, and Phil Steele.

Judging by these picks, Maryland and Duke might as well start looking ahead to 2010, because they've pretty much been written off for this season. (My take: Boston College and Virginia will struggle more.) And Miami, a program which desperately needs a boost into the national spotlight, was regarded overall as the fourth best team in the Coastal Division. Virginia Tech, obviously, is the clear-cut favorite, and there seems to be some confusion about whether or not Georgia Tech is better than North Carolina. That's understandable, because nobody really knows. But lord knows we love to guess ...

Here are the predictions:

Athlon
Atlantic:
1. FSU, 2. NC State, 3. Clemson, 4. Wake Forest, 5. Boston College, 6. Maryland
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. North Carolina, 3. Georgia Tech, 4. Miami, 5. Virginia, 6. Duke
Virginia Tech over FSU in the title game
My take: The final verdict is a good early pick, and one that should be pretty popular, but I think the Nos. 5 and 6 spots for each conference should be reversed. I definitely don't think the Terps are a last-place team, even though they graduated so many players. There's a lot of young talent still on the roster the staff is excited about, and this group might actually have better athletes than it has in the past. The Eagles have more concerns right now than the Terps, who at least have a proven veteran quarterback in Chris Turner.

Lindy's
Atlantic: 1. FSU, 2. Wake Forest, 3. Clemson, 4. NC State, 5. Boston College, 6. Maryland
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. Georgia Tech, 3. North Carolina, 4. Miami, 5. Virginia, 6. Duke
My take: That's a lot of confidence for a Wake Forest team that lost its best defensive players in school history. Jim Grobe is arguably the best coach in the ACC, so I wouldn't put it past the Deacs, especially with so much returning offensively, but Clemson and NC State have more going for them on paper right now.

Sporting News
Atlantic: 1. FSU, 2. NC State, 3. Wake Forest, 4. Clemson, 5. Maryland, 6. Boston College
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. Georgia Tech, 3. North Carolina, 4. Miami, 5. Virginia, 6, Duke
My take: Remember when I said nobody is talking about Clemson? So far the Tigers haven't been given too much credit, and this is the lowest they've been picked so far.

Here's my biggest disagreement with the Sporting News' preview, and it has nothing to do with team rankings. The magazine rated Dolphin Stadium as the best stadium. I beg to differ. It's not even close to the atmospheres at Lane Stadium, Doak Campbell or Death Valley. However, they did give best home-field advantage and best fans to Clemson. That's more like it (although I think the Hokies rival them there, too).

Yahoo! Sports and rivals.com
Atlantic: 1. Florida State, 2. Clemson, 3. NC State, 4. Wake Forest, 5. Boston College, 6. Maryland
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. Georgia Tech, 3. North Carolina, 4. Miami, 5. Virginia, 6. Duke
Championship: Virginia Tech over FSU
My take: These are great picks, and I've already mentioned I'd switch the last two in each conference. Somebody is finally recognizing the talent on Clemson's roster, and this magazine says Clemson is the team that will surprise and Miami is the team that will disappoint. (I think both teams have already accomplished that, no?)

Phil Steele
Atlantic:
1. Clemson, 2. Florida State, 3. Boston College, 3. NC State, 5. Wake Forest, 6. Maryland
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. Miami, 3. Georgia Tech, 4. North Carolina, 5. Virginia, 6. Duke
My take: Way to change it up, Phil. No doubt Clemson is capable, but NC State should be better than a tie for 3rd and BC has too many questions right now for that much credit. Phil also gives the most credit to Miami, and if it weren't for their brutal schedule, more people would probably agree with him. There's no question the Canes have the talent to challenge the Hokies, but don't forget they've also got two new coordinators.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

No public ticket sales will be necessary for the season-opening game between Virginia Tech and Alabama, as each school was allotted and completely sold through 31,200 tickets, Chick-fil-A Bowl officials announced Tuesday.

The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, a Chick-fil-A Bowl event, will match these projected preseason top-10-ranked powers Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. (ET) in the Georgia Dome. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

The Hokies are good enough to beat Alabama. The more difficult task will be getting through their Coastal Division opponents unscathed.

ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel and Heather Dinich discuss the ACC's red-hot rivalries for '09.

Ivan Maisel sits down with Heather Dinich and Chris Low to pit college football conferences head-to-head.

Ivan Maisel sits down with Heather Dinich and Brian Bennett to pit college football conferences head-to-head.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

There is usually a point during the season that makes or breaks a team's chances at contending for the conference title. Here's a look at what that key stretch in the schedule might be for each team in the ACC:

BOSTON COLLEGE: A three-game swing against Atlantic Division opponents that begins Sept. 19 at Clemson, includes a Sept. 26 home game against Wake Forest and ends Oct. 3 against Florida State will go a long way in determining if the Eagles have a prayer of ending up in the ACC title game for the third straight season.

CLEMSON: The back-to-back games against Atlantic Division opponents to start the month of November could either push the Tigers into the race or spoil it for the two preseason frontrunners, Florida State and NC State.

DUKE: The Blue Devils have a tough four-game stretch against all Coastal Division opponents late in the season, and three of the four games are on the road at Virginia, North Carolina and Miami. Duke hosts Georgia Tech on Nov. 14.

FLORIDA STATE: Yes, the opener against Miami will be important, but it won't carry as much weight in the conference race as the Noles' November schedule. It actually begins on Oct. 31 with a home game against NC State -- a game that could determine the division winner - and continues with back-to-back road trips to Clemson and Wake Forest before finishing the conference schedule against Maryland. Considering four of FSU's five Atlantic Division opponents aren't played until the second half of the season, that's when their fate will be determined -- not on Labor Day.

GEORGIA TECH: If the Yellow Jackets are going to push Virginia Tech for the Coastal Division title, they first have to put themselves in contention to win it, and that starts in September with back-to-back games against Miami and North Carolina. The game at Miami is on a Thursday night, and the Canes will want to redeem themselves from last year's poor performance on defense.

MARYLAND: The Terps have a tendency to wait until the final two games of the season to let Florida State and Boston College determine their fate for them. This year, though, Maryland has four straight games at home that could put them at 4-1 heading into a critical Atlantic Division game at Wake Forest. Factoring in a possible loss at Cal, the Terps have to take care of business at home early.

MIAMI: The Hurricanes have no choice but to play November football in September. Their first three games are conference games, including a Thursday night matchup against Georgia Tech and a trip to Blacksburg. Best case scenario? The Canes are 3-0 heading into a showdown with Oklahoma. Worst case scenario? They're 0-4 and heading into trap games against Florida A&M and Central Florida. Even if Miami is 1-3 out of the gate, though, and beats their in-state opponents, that sets up for a huge game against Clemson.

NORTH CAROLINA: Yes, the road trip to Georgia Tech will be critical, but back-to-back Thursday night games -- including the first Thursday night game ever in Chapel Hill -- is where it begins or ends for the Heels. An upset in Blacksburg would be huge, and a preceding home win over FSU would give them the momentum and confidence to do it. A 2-0 Thursday night record heading into home Coastal Division games against Duke and Miami would help outweigh whatever happened earlier in the season in Atlanta.

NC STATE: The Wolfpack has a bye week to prepare for a trip to Florida State, and a win in Tallahassee would go a long way. That momentum could set up two more home wins against Maryland and Clemson, both Atlantic Division opponents, and possibly have NC State on a significant win streak heading into Blacksburg.

VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers have four weeks to prepare for their first ACC opponent, and it's not until Oct. 24 against Georgia Tech that they'll start to figure out where their place is in the Coastal Division standings. Consecutive home game wins against Georgia Tech and Duke could lead to an upset win at Miami and shake things up drastically in that race.

VIRGINIA TECH: Yes, the Alabama game is big-time, but it doesn't do diddly when it comes to the ACC race. The Hokies Oct. 17 game at Georgia Tech is followed by a bye week to prepare for a Thursday night home game against UNC. Those two games will be a huge factor in determining the Hokies' fate.

WAKE FOREST: This one is interesting. Why? Because the Demon Deacons aren't facing the highest of expectations, yet their schedule is very favorable with five of their first six games at home. The potential is there for Wake Forest to be 6-0 and bowl eligible before hoops practice starts. You know the last time that happened? The year they won the league, 2006. Wake became bowl eligible on 10/14/2006, but if they accomplish that feat this year, it would be by Oct. 10. And they've never started out 6-0. The 5-0 start in 2006 was their best.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It's not September yet, but there's nothing wrong with going out on a limb and making a few early predictions. Here are five things that are going to happen in the ACC this fall, according to this blogger's crystal ball:

1. Duke will beat somebody it's not supposed to. That means you, Virginia Tech, NC State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Miami. The Blue Devils have an upset brewing this season, and while the odds of them winning seven games and going to a bowl game are a bit premature, there's enough talent on the roster to humble a few opponents.

2. Backup quarterbacks will be called upon. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt, so let's hope that's not the case, but considering how fragile Tyrod Taylor's ankle has been, and how vulnerable Russell Wilson tends to make himself, odds are their fleet feet will run into some trouble.

3. The conference race will be as crazy, if not more unpredictable, as last season. The Coastal Division should be the better and deeper of the two divisions, but who's to say Wake Forest, Maryland and Clemson don't have that dark horse capability this fall? The Demon Deacons should be better on offense, Clemson has a ton of talent and the folks in College Park think they've got some very talented young athletes you'll get to know this fall.

4. Ten teams will qualify for bowl games. That's right, they're starting a trend. The ACC has the potential to match last year's NCAA record for bowl-eligible teams, but the key lies in the Carolinas, where NC State, UNC and Duke all have two FCS teams scheduled and need to win at least seven games to qualify. Shouldn't be a stretch for anyone except the Blue Devils, but can Virginia turn around its postseason problem?

5. Enough nonconference games will be won that the ACC's reputation will rank behind the SEC and Big 12. There are more than enough opportunities for the ACC to make a statement this fall, starting with the Virginia Tech/Alabama game on Sept. 5. Actually, start with NC State hosting South Carolina on Thursday night (Sept. 3). A 2-0 start against the SEC would get some folks talking.

Ultimate ACC road trip

May, 15, 2009
5/15/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Let's just say you had unlimited time and resources to spend every weekend this fall traveling around the ACC to see the best games of 2009. How would your travel schedule look? If you're missing a Thursday night game in Lane Stadium, then you're missing out.

Allow me to help.

The schedule has to be realistic -- Thursday/Saturday games are doable but can be tough. I saw 11 of the 12 teams play live last fall (sorry, NC State), but only made it to nine of the campuses during the season. The deeper you get into the schedule, the more you have to predict who's going to be doing what in their respective division races. And the more trips you plan, the more you realize the season is a lot longer than just 13 games. Heck, you could pack your suitcase for the entire month of September with this ACC schedule.

Let's keep it real, though. Only the best games. This plan allows you to see 11 teams (sorry, Virginia) on eight different campuses. If you're looking for a bye week, hit the Big East road trip, where my colleague Brian Bennett is willing to cut you a break. There's no rest for the weary in the ACC.

Here's your ticket to the ultimate ACC road trip (good luck finding hotels):

WEEK 1

Sat., Sept. 5

Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (Georgia Dome)

The fun has just begun. This is a game that will go a long way in determining which direction both of these teams will head, and whether the Hokies are ready for prime time. If you want to fly home on Sunday go ahead, but if it were me, I'd catch a nonstop flight from Atlanta to Tallahassee. Gotta go through Atlanta to get there by Monday anyway.

WEEK 2

Mon., Sept. 7

Miami at Florida State

Both of these teams will need to get off to a good start so they've got some momentum heading into tough early schedules. Both teams will also have some kinks to work out, yet will have to look close to November form -- Miami in particular.

WEEK 3

Thurs., Sept. 17

Georgia Tech at Miami

Welcome to ... Land Shark Stadium? It's not a bad beer (if you like the Corona-types), but it's also got nothing to do with the U. Same can be said for much of the gameday atmosphere here. Nonetheless, they're trying to change that this season, and it will be a critical Coastal Division matchup. Game 2 for the Canes. For your sanity, I recommend flying into Ft. Lauderdale instead of Miami. But don't get too comfortable there ...

Sat., Sept. 19

Boston College at Clemson

This is the first chance to get a look at the Eagles' new offense against an ACC opponent, and by now, Frank Spaziani might have finally decided on a quarterback. It's an early Atlantic Division game, and BC should be looking to avenge last year's home loss while Dabo Swinney should have some confidence.

WEEK 4

SEPTEMBER 26

Miami at Virginia Tech

Ah, decisions, decisions. North Carolina at Georgia Tech will also be an important Coastal Division game, but you've already been to Atlanta. Plus, the Hokies are the frontrunners to win the division. Will they be 3-0 going into their third straight home game? 2-1? Miami will need all the momentum it can get heading into ...

WEEK 5

OCTOBER 3

Oklahoma at Miami

That's right, back to Land Shark Stadium. This is a can't-miss game, and another gauge for how far Miami has come and how far it still has to go. The question is what kind of a wave Miami will be riding at this point -- North Shore of Oahu or an undercurrent.

WEEK 6

OCTOBER 10

Georgia Tech at Florida State

It's two of the better teams in each division, and considering how tight the game was last year (FSU fourth-quarter fumble in the end zone, ouch), odds are it will be another good one since many of the players return for both teams.

WEEK 7

OCTOBER 17

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

This game played a huge role in determining the 2008 Coastal Division champ, and history is likely to repeat itself.

WEEK 8

Thurs., Oct. 22

Florida State at North Carolina

It's the first Thursday night game in Chapel Hill -- ever. Can't miss it. And since you're in the heart of ACC country, you may as well stay for a while.

Sat., Oct. 24

Maryland at Duke

You're on Tobacco Road. It's not going to kill you to drive eight miles. Duke is a team worth watching this year, and every coach in the ACC is taking the Blue Devils seriously.

WEEK 9

Thurs., Oct. 29

UNC at Virginia Tech

As soon as "Enter Sandman" begins on a Thursday night, Lane Stadium becomes one of best college football venues in the country. Both teams should be in the front of the Coastal Division race at this point, and will be in the midst of back-to-back Thursday night games. The Hokies, though, will have had a bye week to prepare.

Sat., Oct. 31

NC State at Florida State

Grab a Red Bull and wake up. Catch a flight to Tallahassee because this game very well could determine the Atlantic Division winner. You can sleep in ... May?

WEEK 10

NOVEMBER 7

Florida State at Clemson

Welcome to Death Valley. Have fun tailgating, but make sure you're in your seat in time to see the traditional run down the hill, and check out Howard's Rock if you can. These should be two of the best teams in the Atlantic Division, but how will Florida State be feeling after a date with Russell Wilson?

WEEK 11

NOVEMBER 14

Florida State at Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons have beaten the Noles for three straight years. Can they do it again, with a little help from home field advantage? In addition to the recent history between these teams, it's also an important Atlantic Division game. At this point, Wake Forest either could be a surprise or a spoiler.

WEEK 12

NOVEMBER 21

Maryland at Florida State

The Terps are young, so they should be more of a second-half-of-the-season type of team. This could be a trap game for the Noles, especially if they're thinking ahead to Florida.

WEEK 13

NOVEMBER 28

North Carolina at NC State

Until Virginia starts evening the series with Virginia Tech, it's time to pay attention to some more compelling rivalries out there, and this one should be good.

WEEK 14

Dec. 5 ACC championship game

You made it through the whole season; you may as well find out who won. See you there.

ACC's lunchtime links

May, 12, 2009
5/12/09
12:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Since we're in the middle of ACC spring meetings, why not start there ... 

The topic of conference realignment isn't on the agenda for the ACC spring meetings, but that hasn't stopped one Florida State booster from pushing the idea.

Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver said he would like to see the ACC title game in Charlotte because it's "too hard for people to get to Florida for a weekend game." Unless, of course, those fans are already in Florida.

On Monday, Tony Barnhart looked at the Atlantic Division. Today he reviews the Coastal Division.

And one leftover for you ... Clemson's two new coordinators have a passion for recruiting, and more coordinators are getting involved in the process. Billy Napier would like to be out even more.

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