Clemson is a heavy favorite to win the ACC in 2013.
With 21 wins from 2011-12, Clemson is coming off the best two-year stretch in school history. The Tigers will have a chance to earn their third consecutive season of double-digit victories in 2013, as quarterback Tajh Boyd turned down a chance to enter the NFL Draft for another year in Death Valley. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins did leave for the next level, but Sammy Watkins should regain his freshman form in 2013.
How did the 2012 All-ACC team rank as high school prospects?
The merits of recruiting rankings are debated in every sports bar and around every water cooler in the nation. Athlon continues its look at how each all-conference team ranked as high school recruits with the first-team All-ACC team.
Tajh Boyd is Athlon's pick as the ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
Chalk up 2012 as a year to forget for fans of the ACC. Florida State and Clemson were easily the class of the conference, but in-state SEC rivals handled both teams last Saturday. The Coastal had three teams finish at 5-3 in conference play, with Georgia Tech representing the division in Charlotte. With Miami and North Carolina banned from postseason play, the Yellow Jackets at 6-6 are just one win away from a BCS bowl. Maryland showed signs of progress in Randy Edsall’s second year, but quarterback injuries doomed its season.
With Florida State and Georgia Tech set to meet in the ACC Championship next Saturday, Week 13 is all about bowl positioning and getting a few marquee non-conference wins. Florida State, Clemson, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech take on SEC opponents, which is a chance for the ACC to get some much-needed national respect. Duke-Miami, Boston College-NC State, Virginia-Virginia Tech and Maryland-North Carolina are the final conference games for 2012.
Expansion never stops in college football and another domino fell on Monday: Maryland will be leaving the ACC to become the 13th member of the Big Ten.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh are set to join the ACC in 2013, which would have given the conference 14 teams. However, with the Terrapins set to depart, the ACC is back to 13 teams and unbalanced divisions for its long-term outlook.
The Coastal Division was still up for grabs after Saturday's action, but the Atlantic Division title was clinched by Florida State in Week 12. The Seminoles dominated Maryland to claim their second division title under Jimbo Fisher, while Clemson kept its at-large BCS hopes alive with a victory over NC State. Although the action on the field didn't sort out the Coastal, the champion was declared on Monday, as Miami self-imposed a postseason ban, which means Georgia Tech will meet Florida State in Charlotte.
Lost in the struggles of Maryland's offense and quarterback injuries this year has been the play of receiver Stefon Diggs. The true freshman has been a dynamic playmaker and could be a first-team All-ACC selection by the end of 2013.
Diggs continued his solid freshman campaign with a ridiculous one-handed catch against Florida State. The true freshman knew a big hit was coming from the Florida State defender, yet hung on for the reception.
With the season winding down, the Week 12 slate in the ACC could bring some much-needed clarity to the conference title game. If Florida State beats Maryland, the Seminoles would clinch the Atlantic Division title. The Coastal Division is still murky, but Duke and Miami would appear to have the inside track. However, Georgia Tech's late-season surge has it in the mix, while there's still uncertainty on whether or not the Hurricanes will be able to play in any postseason game this year.
Florida State and Clemson are clearly the ACC's best teams but after that is anyone's guess. North Carolina and Miami lost in Week 11, yet don't suffer a drop in the power rankings this week. With Duke on bye and Virginia Tech also losing, it's hard to find a No. 3 team in this week's poll. Virginia has been on the rise over the last two weeks but still needs two victories to get bowl eligible.