One of the biggest issues of the Fuente era is losing games this team shouldn’t lose. And it’s not that Wake Forest is a bad team — they’re not. It’s that they are still a team that a talented group like Virginia Tech should be able to beat most of the time. In order for this program to take the next step, those are the types of games that need to be wins far more often than not.
My prime example of the ACC having a dysfunctional scheduling model is Louisville. They joined the league in 2014 and their first game with the Hokies is in 2020. You wouldn’t think these two programs are in the same league given how few times they’ve played. The ACC needs to change the scheduling model so that member schools are able to play each other more often. Six years between meetings seems like too long.
Louisville can be explosive offensively — but they don’t do it consistently. This is a team that scored 48 on Florida State and 7 against Notre Dame. Their week-to-week offensive outputs raise some questions. They have talent on the offensive side of the ball. That’s not their problem. The problem is that they are not always consistent moving the ball on offense. They rely on big plays to score. But when the big plays aren’t there, they struggle to move the ball down the field.
Louisville’s defense is just as inconsistent as their offense. They gave up 47 points to Miami (and 46 to Georgia Tech) and also gave up 12 to Notre Dame. It’s kinda hard to believe. The one consistent aspect of their defense is that they give up yards on the ground. The Hokies should be able to move the ball on the ground against this defense. Louisville is stronger against the pass. If the Cardinals sell out against the run, Hendon Hooker will need to prove that he can beat them with this arm.
Both teams have consistency issues. I’m a big believer in the bounce-back game in college football. The Hokies had a bad loss last week and we will see a more inspired effort this week. This team has too much talent on the offensive side of the ball to think we’ll see a repeat performance of last week. What will be key is stopping Louisville’s big plays when Virginia Tech is playing defense. You don’t want to get into a shootout on the road with Louisville. Put me down as thinking the Hokies bounce back and win a squeaker on the road.
Everyone is saying that the division will come down to the Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech game on November 12th. I tend to agree but I could see Virginia Tech winning that game with 12 days to prepare but lose three games in the rest of ACC play to still hand the division to Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech definitely has the easier ACC slate only having to face Boston College and NC State from the Atlantic division. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, has to face Clemson and Florida State (yikes!).
I see Duke keeping the momentum going under David Cutcliffe. I think we will continue to see Duke be a thorn in the side of other Coastal teams for years to come. I call them the Stanford of the east. Miami will have another Miami-like season, not bad but not great. Probably not enough to save Al Golden’s job. North Carolina will continue to put up points like usual but I’m not sure I trust that defense to show up. I’m not really sure what to expect from Pitt under new coach Pat Narduzzi. I could see them being really good but more than likely they’ll have an up and down season.
And finally Virginia. I actually feel bad for Virginia. Seems like most have already jumped ship on Mike London’s future there and then they get handed a murderer’s row non-conference schedule (@UCLA, Notre Dame & Boise State). Not good.
North Carolina State
Florida State still is one of the most talented teams in the country. They have plenty of talent to choose from and will reload in 2015. They will not, however, go undefeated in 2015. The Atlantic division will be a three team race between Florida State, Clemson and Louisville. Clemson has the best quarterback in the league to go along with an improving defense under Brent Venables.
Louisville’s defense will be good enough to keep them in every game. As long as they can find competent quarterback play, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Boston College will continue to be a tough out for anyone they play but that schedule is brutal. Even with raised expectations, I expect NC State to take a step back. I’m not buying the hype there. Syracuse and Wake Forest are a step below the rest of the division.
Finally, the ACC has more than two good teams! I think the ACC will get some respect this year. Between Florida State, Clemson, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Duke, the ACC has six potential top-25 teams. This is the year to expect the unexpected. Both divisions will have razor thin races going into November. You can look as far as the six games between the teams listed above to decide both divisions. I could even see some crazy tiebreakers go into effect in those division races. It’s been awhile since the league had ranked teams battling it out in each division. Should be an exciting season.