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2014 ACC Preseason Power Rankings

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Once the season is underway we’ll be providing our readers with game recaps and predictions of what lies ahead for each member of the conference. We’ll also be listing any pertinent information for each team including injury news, roster updates, and the like.

Fireworks at the start of the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina
Fireworks at the start of the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina
Streeter Lecka

As kickoff rapidly approaches, State of the U begins our weekly Atlantic Coast Conference power rankings. Who can prove to be a top tier team in a conference of evenly matched opponents that trade victories each year? Which teams are making strides towards the illustrious ACCCG? How many C's is too many C's? All these questions and more will be answered with our evaluation of the conference power rankings.

In our first installment, State of the U will prepare our fans for everything the Atlantic Coast Conference has in store for us this upcoming season. Alongside each school will be their conference schedule, opening week opponent, out-of-conference schedule, and their respective AP and Coaches Poll rankings as well as our own.

This year brings a new addition to our divisional rankings: The ACC's Top Three Programs. Often we think of the ACC in tiers, such as holding Clemson and Florida State above the rest of the Atlantic Division. (Or to provide an example for the Coastal Division: a handful of teams who can win and the remaining two who don't). Each of the three programs will be in a tier of their own, overlords of the ACC, if you will. These teams must separate themselves from the ACC's constant back-and-forth and generally frustrating behavior. They must be contenders at the national level and represent the conference well against our Power 5 adversaries.

Notre Dame is not included in our top three, however, a  victory over the Irish by a member of the ACC is like, double bonus or something. We're still figuring that out, but those guys... right? Right?!

On that note, we bring you to the Preseason Atlantic Coast Conference Power Rankings. Enjoy!


Atlantic Division


1st - Florida State Seminoles

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): 1st/1st
Opening game: 8/30 vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (AT&T Stadium)
ACC Opponents: Clemson, @ N.C. State, Wake Forest, @ Syracuse, @ Louisville, Virginia, @ Miami, Boston College
Out-of-Conference Opponents: Oklahoma State Cowboys, The Citadel Bulldogs, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Florida Gators


2nd - Clemson Tigers

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): 16th/16th
Opening game: 8/30 @ Georgia Bulldogs
ACC Opponents: @ Florida St., North Carolina, N.C. State, Louisville, @ Boston College, Syracuse, @ Wake Forest, @ Georgia Tech
Out-of-Conference Opponents: @ UGA, South Carolina State Bulldogs, Georgia State Panthers, South Carolina Gamecocks


3rd - Louisville Cardinals

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 9/1 vs. Miami
ACC Opponents: Miami, @ Virginia, Wake Forest, @ Syracuse, @ Clemson, N.C. State, FSU, @ Boston College
Out-of-Conference Opponents: Murray State Racers, @ FIU Panthers, @ Notre Dame, Kentucky Wildcats


4th - Syracuse Orange

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 8/29 vs. Villanova Wildcats
ACC Opponents: Louisville, Florida St., @ Wake Forest, @ Clemson, N.C. State, Duke, @ Pittsburgh, @ Boston College
Out-of-Conference Opponents: Villanova, @ Central Michigan Chippewas, Maryland Terrapins, Notre Dame (MetLife Stadium)


5th - Boston College Eagles

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 8/30 @ Massachusetts Minutemen (Gillette Stadium)
ACC Opponents: Pittsburgh, @ N.C. State, Clemson, @ Wake Forest, @ Virginia Tech, Louisville, @ Florida St., Syracuse
Out-of-Conference Opponents: @ UMass, USC Trojans, Maine Black Bears, Colorado State Rams


6th - N.C. State Wolfpack

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 8/30 vs. Georgia Southern Eagles
ACC Opponents: Florida St., @ Clemson, Boston College, @ Louisville, @ Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, @ North Carolina
Out-of-Conference Opponents: Georgia Southern, Old Dominion Monarchs, @ South Florida Bulls, Presbyterian Blue Hose


7th - Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 8/28 @ ULM Warhawks
ACC Opponents: @ Louisville, @ Florida St., Syracuse, Boston College, Clemson, @ N.C. State, Virginia Tech, @ Duke
Out-of-Conference Opponents: @ ULM, Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, @ Utah State Aggies, Army Black Knights




Coastal Division


1st - Miami Hurricanes

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 9/1 @ Louisville Cardinals
ACC Opponents: @ Louisville, Duke, @ Georgia Tech, @ Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Florida St., @ Virginia, Pittsburgh
Out-of-Conference Opponents: Florida A&M Rattlers, Arkansas State Red Wolves, @ Nebraska Cornhuskers, Cincinnati Bearcats


2nd - North Carolina Tar Heels

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): 23rd/23rd
Opening game: 8/30 vs. Liberty Flames
ACC Opponents: @ Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, @ Virginia, @ Miami, Pittsburgh, @ Duke, N.C. State
Out-of-Conference Opponents: Liberty, San Diego State Aztecs, @ East Carolina Pirates, @ Notre Dame


3rd - Duke Blue Devils

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 8/30 vs. Elon Phoenix
ACC Opponents: @ Miami, @ Georgia Tech, Virginia, @ Pittsburgh, @ Syracuse, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Wake Forest
Out-of-Conference Opponents: Elon, @ Troy Trojans, Kansas Jayhawks, Tulane Green Wave


4th - Virginia Tech Hokies

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 8/30 vs. William & Mary Tribe
ACC Opponents: Georgia Tech, @ North Carolina, @ Pittsburgh, Miami, Boston College, @ Duke, @ Wake Forest, Virginia
Out-of-Conference Opponents: William & Mary, @ Ohio State Buckeyes, East Carolina Pirates, Western Michigan Broncos


5th - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 8/30 vs. Wofford Terriers
ACC Opponents: @ Virginia Tech, Miami, Duke, @ North Carolina, @ Pittsburgh, Virginia, @ N.C. State, Clemson
Out-of-Conference Opponents: Wofford, @ Tulane Green Wave, Georgia Southern, @ Georgia Bulldogs


6th - Pittsburgh Panthers

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 8/30 vs. Delaware Blue Hens
ACC Opponents: @ Boston College, @ Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke, @ North Carolina, Syracuse, @ Miami
Out-of-Conference Opponents: Delaware, @ FIU Panthers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Akron Zips


7th - Virginia Cavaliers

Preseason Polls (AP/Coaches): NR/NR
Opening game: 8/30 vs. UCLA Bruins
ACC Opponents: Louisville, Pittsburgh, @ Duke, North Carolina, @ Georgia Tech, @ Florida St., Miami, @ Virginia Tech
Out-of-Conference Opponents: UCLA, Richmond Spiders, @ BYU Cougars, Kent State Golden Flashes



ACC's Top Three

Florida State Seminoles: Florida State is by far the most powerful team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, as much as that pains me to say. They're reigning champions, the preseason favorites, and current juggernauts of the Atlantic Division. 

Clemson Tigers: Clemson enters 2014 with notable losses to their roster. However, success in recent recruiting classes has led to a steady replenishment of 4 and 5-star talent. How well that talent replaces Clemson's losses on offense is vital to their season. Another concern for Clemson is a familiar one to 'Canes fans: a new, unproven quarterback. (We're not the only ones, thankfully).

For the first time in recent memory, it's Clemson's defense that boasts the most talent. A strong defensive line anchored by Vic Beasley has fans optimistic that this year's team will hold its own in the Atlantic Division.

There's no easing into the schedule for Clemson. The Tigers' first six games feature Georgia, FSU, UNC, NCST, and UL. With that being said, it won't be long until the true nature of this team shows itself, whether that's a top 15 squad or one that straddles the .500 mark.

Louisville Cardinals: Newcomer Louisville brings added firepower to a division that's become accustomed to Clemson and Florida State's battle for supremacy. There's much to prove their first season in the ACC. A successful year one campaign may consist of a 5-3 conference record, but the possibility for an added win or two is there. Will Gardner takes the reigns at quarterback, while Bobby Petrino coaches up a talented offensive unit. Defense is the question surrounding UL, though lingering talent on the roster is enough to permit their third place standing among the ACC's top programs.

This concludes State of the U's Preseason Atlantic Coast Conference Power Rankings. You're welcome to share your own rankings and outlooks in the comments section. Please, share your thoughts. Additional views help form a better perspective. In fact, these rankings were prepared weeks in advance, although they didn't sit well with me. I forced myself to bring them to the entire State of the U staff and asked for guidance. While many agreed, a few offered different perspectives that I wasn't capable of seeing through my Brad Kaaya tinted lenses. Those insights were taken into consideration, but Miami is still the Coastal favorite, BRUHHHHH. (Sorry. Consumed by my inner #Canesfam and longing for arepas, I may have overreacted. Please do not let this prevent you from sharing your input.)


#GOACC