Virginia Tech over Clemson? FSU No. ... 3?!

June, 10, 2013
6/10/13
3:30
PM ET
Phil Steele made some bold moves.

He ranked the Hokies ahead of Clemson in his 2013 Top 40 Countdown, with Virginia Tech at No. 12 and Clemson at No. 15.

Oh, and he has Florida State as the No. 3 team in the nation.

No. 3 team in the nation?! FSU might not even be the best team in the ACC.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
Rob Foldy/USA TODAY SportsHokies QB Logan Thomas should benefit from what is expected to be a solid offensive line in 2013.
Kudos to Steele for going against the grain and giving strong reasons to help justify his rankings, but with all due respect, Florida State and Virginia Tech haven't done diddly to earn those numbers. Instead, both of those teams currently have one projected starter facing felony charges, they both fell below expectations last year, and they also had two of the biggest staff overhauls in the conference this offseason.

Steele clearly has a lot of faith in Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, but he has to have even more faith in the Hokies' offensive line and new coordinator, Scot Loeffler.

I'm not sure even Virginia Tech fans have that much confidence right now -- especially after such an abysmal showing in the spring game.

Based on what we saw this spring, Virginia Tech doesn't even look like the best team in the Coastal Division -- Miami does. There are reasons to believe, though, in Blacksburg. Bud Foster's defense could be the best in the ACC this fall, the schedule is conducive to a season of redemption, and those within the program are determined not to repeat last year's mistakes. Virginia Tech should start out no worse than 3-1, with its lone loss to defending national champ Alabama.

But can the Hokies win at Georgia Tech on a Thursday night? Can they beat UNC? Pitt? Win at Miami? There are no gimmes. Virginia Tech -- with the exception of one practice and the spring game -- had a terrific spring and made many strides the public did not see. The Hokies will be better, but they still have young receivers and plenty of questions offensively.

Florida State should again be a contender in the Atlantic Division, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see the Noles in the ACC title game again -- they should be playing for a title every year with the way Jimbo Fisher is recruiting.

But Clemson is in Year 2 under defensive coordinator Brent Venables, while FSU is breaking in a new coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt. Florida State has a new quarterback in Jameis Winston (though he hasn't been officially named the starter yet), whose legend is far longer than his playing time, while Clemson has a Heisman candidate in Tajh Boyd. Clemson also has one of the country's rising star assistants in offensive coordinator Chad Morris, while Florida State doesn't even have an offensive coordinator.

Florida State, though, beat Clemson last year and is good enough to do it again. Virginia Tech definitely has more to prove than the Noles, but until the ACC finds a team that can win big consistently, it doesn't have a top 5 team.

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