Wednesday, we offered a preview for the ACC's Atlantic Division. To no one's surprise, I'm picking Boston College to win the Atlantic and earn their third ACC Championship Game berth in four seasons. But who will BC play in Charlotte on December 4? Will it be yet another matchup against the Virginia Tech Hokies? Or will a new face emerge from this year's Coastal Division race?
Here's a team-by-team preview of the ACC's Coastal Division title race.
Miami Hurricanes (2010 Prediction: 10-2, 7-1 ACC)
Wins: Florida A&M, at Pittsburgh, at Clemson, Florida State, at Duke, North Carolina, at Virginia, Maryland, Virginia Tech, South Florida
Losses: at Ohio State, at Georgia Tech
Outlook: I see the Miami Hurricanes surviving a late-season loss to Georgia Tech to advance to the program's first-ever ACC Championship Game. Timing has never really been the ACC's thing. The league finally gets a Miami Hurricanes team into the Championship Game just in time for the game to move from Florida -- where it's been for the last five years -- to North Carolina. A win over Virginia Tech in the Canes' ACC finale propels the Hurricanes to the title game.
Bowl: Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech Hokies (9-3, 6-2 ACC)
Wins: James Madison, East Carolina, at N.C. State, Central Michigan, Wake Forest, Duke, Georgia Tech, at North Carolina, Virginia
Losses: Boise State, at Boston College, at Miami
Outlook: The Coastal Division race always seems to come back to Virginia Tech. But this year, the Hokies have to reload on defense to the tune of seven new starters. I think the Hokies stumble through September to the tune of 2-2. Over the past few years, the Hokies haven't exactly been fast starters, with early season losses to Alabama, East Carolina and LSU. Virginia Tech then hits its stride mid-season, rattling off six straight wins before falling to Miami in a de facto ACC Coastal Division Championship Game. Still, with a short bowl trip to Atlanta, Beamer's bunch is in position to win 10 wins for a program-best seventh consecutive season.
Bowl: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-3, 6-2)
Wins: South Carolina State, at Kansas, N.C. State, at Wake Forest, Virginia, Middle Tennessee, at Clemson, Miami, Duke
Losses: at North Carolina, at Virginia Tech, at Georgia
Outlook: The defending ACC Champions take care of business at home this year, winning all six games, but get tripped up in three tough road contests against North Carolina, Virginia Tech and their in-state SEC rivals, Georgia. In any other season, 9-3 might be good enough to send a program to the ACC Championship Game, but not this year in the top-heavy ACC Coastal Division.
Bowl: Music City Bowl
North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4, 5-3)
Wins: Georgia Tech, at Rutgers, East Carolina, Clemson, at Virginia, William & Mary, N.C. State, at Duke
Losses: LSU, at Miami, at Florida State, Virginia Tech
Outlook: No other ACC program will be more under the microscope this season than Butch Davis' North Carolina Tar Heels program. It starts on no bigger stage, too, as the Heels kick off the season in Atlanta against the LSU Tigers (a program that the Heels have struggled against, going just 1-5 all-time). Who knows who will be suiting up for the Tar Heels after all these NCAA investigations conclude. I think you'll see the Heels struggle to an 8-4 season. I say struggle only because before the investigations began swirling around Chapel Hill, there was certainly higher expectations for a UNC squad that boasts five potential first round NFL Draft picks.
Bowl: Meineke Car Care Bowl
Duke Blue Devils (3-9, 1-7)
Wins: Elon, Army, Virginia
Losses: at Wake Forest, Alabama, at Maryland, Miami, at Virginia Tech, at Navy, Boston College, at Georgia Tech, North Carolina
Outlook: Wins will be at a premium for David Cutcliffe and Duke this season, a year after having a brush with bowl eligibility. The Blue Devils haven't been to a bowl in nearly 15 seasons, and this year's schedule doesn't afford Duke much room to get there. This is an improved Duke team from a few seasons ago, when Duke was regularly turning in 0-8 performances in the ACC. But in the top-heavy Coastal Division, it's hard to find ACC wins when you have to play Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and North Carolina, not to mention BC. Throw in hosting the preseason No. 1 team in the country -- Alabama Crimson Tide -- on national TV, and you have the makings of a tough year in Durham.
Virginia Cavaliers (3-9, 0-8)
Wins: Richmond, VMI, Eastern Michigan
Losses: at USC, Florida State, at Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami, at Duke, Maryland, at Boston College, at Virginia Tech
Outlook: Progress for the Cavaliers will be not losing their game against a team from college football's lower division, as they did a season ago. UVA dropped their season opener to William & Mary, 26-14, setting in motion a season where Virginia would only have three-up and nine-down, and see their long-time head coach Al Groh fired. Enter first-year coach Mike London -- a former BC staffer -- as he tries to rebuild the Cavaliers football program. Virginia opens the season against London's former squad, the Richmond Spiders. As I mentioned, progress will be measured in terms of taking care of business against UVA's two FCS opponents. I think London will get the Cavs those two wins. Throw in a W against the MAC's Eastern Michigan and you'll see the Cavaliers finish 2010 as they finished 2009 -- 3-9 (including 0-8 in the ACC).