ACC: Buy Or Sell?
By Matt Phifer
With the ACC coming off of a 2013 college football season that featured 11 conference teams in bowls and the national champion there is a lot to be hopeful about for 2014, but who's stock should you buy and whose should you sell?
Florida State: Buy, Buy, Buy
The Noles were not just a one year title wonder. With Jameis Winston back at the helm and a number of talented players around him including receivers Kermit Whitfield and Rashad Greene and tight end Karlos Williams, Florida State will be poised for another national championship. Yes, they have a lot of people to replace on defense, but don't worry, FSU's recruiting will insure this team is still in the first College Football Playoff.
Don't buy any more Clemson stock right now, but don't sell any either. With players like Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant exiting the picture it is hard to see Clemson repeating their outstanding performance from a year ago, but the Tigers will still be good for 8 or 9 wins this season. Plus, things could get brighter for this squad once Famous Jameis leaves the picture at Florida State.
Louisville: Buy Now While It's Cheap
It's always smart to buy some cheap stock before it gets hot on the stock market. If we are treating this exercise in that way, buy Louisville stock. The Cardinals might not have Teddy Bridgewater, their top two rushers, defensive back Calvin Pryor or Charlie Strong as they enter their first year in the ACC, possibly turning some people off, but make no mistake, this is a team with a lot of potential. You're not buying Louisville for the 2014 ACC Title, you're buying them for the 2015 title. Head coach Bobby Petrino has a proven track record here, success, with a whomping 41-9 record during his first stint at the school. He might not have a record quite that good, but it should be solid.
Syracuse: Buy A Little For Some Good Dividends
Syracuse stock is going up slightly because they return 15 starters, including quarterback Terrel Hunt, running back Prince-Tyson Gulley, linebacker Dyshawn Davis and four of the five starting offensive linemen. Syracuse had some rough moments on both sides of the ball last year and some real nailbiters, but this is a team on the rise still slowly climbing out of the basement that was the Greg Robinson era from 2005-2008. They should make a bowl for the third straight year.
Boston College: Sell
The Eagles are going in the right direction, but it is hard to see them having a season as good as last year's. They may scrape their way into a bowl with the help of Florida transfer Tyler Murphy at the helm of the offense, but without players like wide reciever Alex Amidon, running back Andre Williams and linebackers Kevin Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto it is hard to see BC repeating their level of success from a year ago.
NC State: Buy A Little
Yep, lots of buying here, but NC State really can't be worse than last season unless they suffer a similar fate in terms of injuries. Expect the Wolfpack to at least come close to bowl eligibility.
Wake Forest: Sell, Sell, Sell
The Demon Deacons weren't good last year with four-year starter Tanner Price and it's hard to see them not being the doormat of the Atlantic Division again in 2014. Dave Clawson has brought hope to a program that's suffered five straight losing seasons, but this is a team that has to replace a quarterback while trying to find a receiver among a group that didn't step up a year ago when Michael Campanaro was injured and lost for the remainder of the season in the Syracuse game.
North Carolina: Buy It While It's Hot
The Tar Heels are loaded with talent from quarterback Marquise Williams to wide receivers like Quinshad Davis. The Coastal Division race will be wide open again, but it is entirely possible that the Tar Heels will come out on top of the division.
Duke brings back most of its key players including wide receiver Jamison Crowder and quarterback Anthony Boone. They also return most of their safeties, which could help reduce the number of times that opponents are putting up big numbers on Duke. The Blue Devils could certainly go back to the ACC Championship Game again, but they caught lightning in a bottle late a couple of times in 2013, maybe a few too many times to expect a repeat. Don't sell any because even if Duke falls off it will be marginal.
Virginia Tech: Hold
Some people have Virginia Tech winning the Coastal Divison and considering how open the race was last year, that is possible. With that said, I doubt the Hokies will do that. There are a lot of rather untested players on Virginia Tech's offense, which has been questionable at best the past few years. Defensively, you can always count on the Hokies to be strong and if they are to win the Coastal Division that will be why.
Pittsburgh has a lot of questions, namely Chad Voytik, a dual-threat quarterback who has only thrown 11 collegiate passes. The return of Tyler Boyd at wide reciever definitely helps him out, but again, with the Coastal Division race wide-open this is another team that should be in the mix.
This year will depend on Miami's play at the quarterback position. With heir apparent Ryan Williams most likely out for the season after suffering an ACL tear in spring practice the job could fall on true freshman Kevin Olsen. Duke Johnson at the running back position will be a major help for Williams and the Hurricanes return a number of talented players on defense. Still, it is hard to see a true freshman quarterback leading Miami to the top of the Coastal Division.
Georgia Tech: Sell, Sell, Sell
With Vad Lee suddenly leaving Georgia Tech for James Madison, Justin Thomas inherits the Yellowjackets' offense. Thomas is talented, especially as a runner, but only has limited experience throwing the football. Georgia Tech returns five starters on a defense that was a little Jekyll and Hyde throughout the year, shutting out schools like Syracuse, but giving 45 to Miami and 55 to Clemson. Some consistency is needed from this team. Will they make a bowl? Probably. Is it possible they don't? Yes.
Virginia: Just Sell As Fast As You Can
The Cavaliers are one of the oddest programs in college football in that they almost always have a recruiting class in the top 30 or 40 in the country and yet they seem to have trouble translating that into results on the field. After a 2-10 2013, this could be Mike London's last chance to prove himself, but with a tough out-of-conference schedule that includes UCLA and BYU (Who they beat last year, but lightning is unlikely to strike twice.) it's hard to see the Cavaliers picking up more than two or three wins.
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