This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
A lack of luster surely isn’t what the ACC had in mind when it added Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College from the Big East. Instead of a 12-team super-conference that rivals the SEC, the ACC has watched as its marquee programs — Miami and Florida State — have sunk into a period of sustained mediocrity. At the same time, none of the conference’s other members have emerged to become regular title contenders. There is no better symbol of the league’s struggles than the yawning sections of empty seats at its last two championship games in Jacksonville.
The struggles of the Hurricanes and Seminoles in recent seasons are largely attributable to poor quarterback play; indeed, the conference as a whole is bereft of talent at the position. One of the main reasons that Clemson is favored to capture its first league crown in 17 years is that it has Cullen Harper under center. The senior is coming off a season in which he threw for 2,991 yards, with 27 TDs and just six interceptions. The Tigers also have perhaps the nation’s best running back tandem in James Davis and C.J. Spiller. They have a history of inconsistency under coach Tommy Bowden, often looking like national-title contenders one week, before falling to a seemingly overmatched opponent the next.
Clemson is the clear favorite in the Atlantic Division, though it could face a challenge from plucky Wake Forest if quarterback Riley Skinner can stay healthy. Florida State remains an enigma, vastly underperforming its talent level, and the biggest drama in Tallahassee this season is likely to be the future of legendary coach Bobby Bowden. Virginia Tech has the talent to walk away with the Coastal Division, but don’t be surprised if North Carolina makes a significant leap in coach Butch Davis’s second season.