- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Count Athlon Sports as a Florida State believer.
The staff at the magazine picked the Seminoles to win their fourth straight ACC title, beating Georgia Tech in a rematch of the 2014 ACC championship game. But among its other predictions, Athlon Sports projects nobody from the ACC to make the College Football Playoff. Florida State is the only team in its projections to win 10 or more games.
Though Athlon did not necessarily go out on a limb with its Atlantic predictions, the Coastal looks like a mess (would you expect anything less?). No Coastal team is projected to win more than eight games, not even the Jackets. Athlon has three teams finishing the regular season at 8-4 (Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Pitt), and three teams finishing 7-5 -- Miami, North Carolina and Duke.
If the win-loss projections come to fruition, then 2015 would have to be chalked up as a complete disappointment. While there aren't many who are picking an ACC rep to make the final four, having only one team reach double digits in the regular season would represent a setback. Clemson, which has hit 10 or more wins in four straight seasons, was picked to go 9-3. So was NC State, with one of the easiest nonconference schedules in the country.
As we have been saying for years, the ACC cannot afford to have only two to three teams ranked in the Top 25. Especially in the College Football Playoff era, when schedules and conference strength are scrutinized so much more. It has to be a collective effort to try and change the perception of the league. All that clutter in the Coastal certainly won't help.
Among other notable projections:
Athlon has Louisville finishing 7-5. It's been a long while since the Cards only won seven games. I'm going to take the over on that.
Virginia is ranked No. 61 nationally but projected to finish 4-8. I'm sure you can figure out why.
As our Jared Shanker pointed out last week, there's no clear-cut favorite for preseason ACC Offensive Player of the Year. For proof, three different players picked up POY votes from Athlon: James Conner, Dalvin Cook and Deshaun Watson.
Only one voter had Everett Golson as top newcomer.
Completely agree that Miami is the toughest team to evaluate.
7dJeremy Crabtree and Brandon Chatmon