By Antwaun Sumpter
The 2016-2017 College Football season is shortly upon us and there are 120 FBS colleges and universities who want to be the College Football Playoff and possibly have a shot to go to Tampa, FL and play for the National Championship. I am going to go through each conference and list one key thing/player that each team needs to be successful in the 2016 season.
Let us start with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) where in the last few years, it has been either Clemson or Florida State. But in 2016 the ACC may not have a cake walk through the Conference.
The Boston College Eagles are going to struggle in 2016. But let us look at the bright side, Clemson and Louisville both come to Alumni Stadium so you can probably get an upset there, but you do have to go to Tallahassee (Florida State) and Winston-Salem (Wake Forest). If Head Coach Steve Addazio can get his boys off to the right start the Boston College Eagles will be going bowling.
The Clemson Tigers have all the makings of making it back to the College Football playoff and making it back to the National Championship. It starts off in Week One on September 3rd when they travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium and take on the Auburn Tigers. If the Tigers can get through Auburn they should have smooth sailing all the way to October 29th win that have to go to Florida State. At worst the Clemson Tigers have one loss.
As far as it is for the Duke Blue Devils, they are that team that is on the rise and within three years this Blue Devils team will be unstoppable. But it all goes to their Head Coach, David Cuttcliffe. Duke doesn’t play Clemson or Florida State so the Blue Devils should be back in the ACC Championship Game.
The Florida State Seminoles are favored in every game in 2016. The Seminoles only road test that I see is October 8th going to Miami. Other than that, the Florida State Seminoles have a chance to run the table. This could be one of the teams that go undefeated. If they can get through Miami on the road and Clemson at home, the Seminoles can run the table.
As far the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are concerned, they have a chance to become spoilers and dethrone some of the top teams in this conference. Georgia Tech plays Miami and Clemson both in Atlanta so they can possibly pull off upsets there. Georgia Tech has a chance to be back in the ACC Championship Game if they can steal a few wins out the season.
The Louisville Cardinals have somewhat the easiest schedule on paper, but the games need to be played. The Cardinals are going to struggle to get points on the board and they will not help in the ACC if they cannot score. Trips to Clemson and to Houston are not going to be easy wins but they are winnable. Hope, Louisville gets enough wins to get to a bowl game.
For Head Coach Mark Richt and the Miami Hurricanes this can shape up as the start of something special in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes on paper probably have two tough road games, at Virginia Tech (10/20) and at Notre Dame (10/29). Also a date with Florida State on 10/8 in Miami. That possibly can change the Miami Hurricanes season if they can pull off the upset against the Seminoles. The Hurricanes have all the right pieces to really make some noise in the ACC.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack is that team that, can they either have a good season or they can have a bad one. For Dave Doeren and the Wolfpack, they need to make sure everyone is healthy and ready to go. They can start the season off right with games against William & Mary, at East Carolina, Old Dominion. That is the potential of going 3-0 before they even get into Conference play against Wake Forest. The kids from Raleigh need to get off to a hot start to have any chance in the ACC.
We will see how good the North Carolina Tar Heels really are right out the gate when they take on Georgia in Chapel Hill. Georgia last year ran all over them last year. The season even gets tougher wants it turns into the month of October, at Florida State, Virginia Tech, at Miami, at Virginia. If you are a Tar Heels fan and you can escape October with at worse 2-2 you are fine.
The Pittsburgh Panthers get all of the key players they lost last year back and they can become spoilers in the ACC. They jump out the gate with tough games, Villanova, at Penn State, at Oklahoma City, at North Carolina. The Panthers are underdogs in all of these games except Villanova. This could be a long year for the Panthers. If they want to become spoilers, they need to come up with huge wins throughout the season.
Dino Babers and the Syracuse Orange can be that team that is in a rebuilding year, but can be spoiled if need be. They will probably be at the bottom of the ACC, but they have the right Head Coach to turn that team around. Give him some time and the Syracuse Orange will be a force to be reckon with in the future.
The Virginia Cavaliers are in the post Mike London era and its time for Bronco Mendenhall to start planting his roots into Charlottesville. The Cavaliers never really had a prolific passer and hopefully Coach Mendenhall can bring some of that from BYU. Their first three games are tough games. Richmond (Don’t underestimate the Spiders), at Oregon, at Connecticut. The first game against Richmond will decide how long of a season the Cavaliers will have.
For the first time in the years Frank Beamer will not be on the sidelines for the Virginia Tech Hokies. New Head Coach Justin Funete is going to come in and set his mark on this season. The Hokies may struggle at the start, but after the team gets it together, the Hokies can actually make a season out of it. The game of the year will be Sept 10th against Tennessee at the Bristol Motor Speedway. That will be a game that everyone wants to see.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons finished the season last year with a record of (3-9). This could happen again for Wake Forest. This team is young and rebuilding, but they need time together. Give the kids from Winston-Salem time.
The ACC is shaping up to be a dog fight at the top with Florida State and Clemson. Now in 2016 you will have a battle with everyone trying to dethrone the two at the top. It should be a good season.
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