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The ACC Preview: Crystal Ball Run staff makes their championship picks


FSU got back to it's ACC Thorn in 2012, can it stay there in 2013?
(Photo Courtesy: USA Today Sports/Bob Donnan)

It all comes down to this folks…. The moment you've been patiently waiting all week for – time for us to pick how we see this season play out in the ACC. We've talked enough about schedules, big games, coaches, vandalization of famed rocks and more. 

Time to get down to brass tax, right? Well, fear not as we bring you our fearless staff predictions on who takes what could be a wild ACC season. Heck we even venture out on a limb and pick coach and MVP too!! What's not to love, right? 

Allen Kenney's Take: Plenty has changed in the ACC in the last year, including adding some stability through new conference members and media contracts. Stability would also describe the top of the conference in football, where Florida State and Clemson again look like the league's elite.

In the Atlantic Division, I'm struggling to jump in feet first with Clemson. Primarily, this is because Clemson is, well, Clemson. The program has a well-earned reputation for its history of falling far short of they hype surrounding it. Maybe we should look at last season as a step forward for the Tigers, who actually played like a team that wasn't just waiting for the other shoe drop. I'll cautiously back Dabo's crew over a talented Florida State team.

As for the Coastal, ugh. I guess I'll get on the Miami bandwagon. The Hurricanes are generating some preseason buzz in light of an abundance of experience and offensive firepower. The D still has a long way to go.. Oh well, somebody has to win it.

I say Clemson books a return trip to the Orange Bowl in January to try to exorcize some demons.

Conference Champ: Clemson over Miami
MVP: Tahj Boyd, QB, Clemson
Coach of the Year: Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh

Dave Singleton's Take: Most years, I have no idea what to make of the ACC in the preseason, but this year, it seems clear to me.

The schedule is funky, with two FCS opponents and two SEC East opponents, but Clemson can and will make a statement to open the season with a victory over Georgia, and the confidence boost from that alone will carry them through much of the season—at least up until the game against Carolina.

In the Coastal Division, I'll go with North Carolina. Veteran talent returns on both sides of the ball, and there is a lot of it. Miami will make a push, but I think the Heels can get to Charlotte easily.

I like North Carolina's talent, experience and coaching over Clemson in a title game that should be entertaining.

Conference Champ: North Carolina over Clemson
MVP: Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Coach of the Year: Larry Fedora, North Carolina

Kevin McGuire's Take: The last couple of years the ACC has come down to Clemson or Florida State. I expect this will be the case once again in 2013. In a year the Seminoles probably take a little step back after losing so much talent to the NFL, Clemson looks poised to retake the Atlantic Division pole position and we will get a good idea of just what to make of Clemson right out of the shoot as they take on SEC East contender Georgia at home in week one in prime time. Tajh Boyd vs. Aaron Murray will be a lot of fun to digest leading up to the season opener and it could be a great opportunity for Boyd to shine after ending the 2012 season with a nice comeback victory against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The offensive line looks stacked going in to the season and I also think we are in store for a fine season from the dynamic Sammy Watkins. Throw in a defensive unit that looks to be an improving unit across the board and the fact Clemson gets Florida State at home this year, and I'll give the edge to the Tigers.

As for their ACC Championship Game opponent, it will come down to Miami and North Carolina. In 2013 I'm siding with the Tar Heels, although I expect it to be a tight race with the Hurricanes for the Coastal Division championship. UNC has a veteran secondary and defensive line. If they can plug in new linebackers easily enough they should be in good shape for the fall with an offense that Larry Fedora is continuing to develop nicely. Quarterback Bryn Renner will have some experienced targets to connect with, including All-ACC tight end Eric Ebron.

Conference Champion: Clemson over North Carolina
MVP: Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Coach of the Year: Larry Fedora, North Carolina

Andy Coppens' Take: O.k., broken record at this point in time so I'll keep it short and sweet. Btw, if you want to see my full thoughts or those of Kevin as well, we highly suggest checking out this week's Google + Hangout. That said, I think the Atlantic Division (harder to remember than the B1G divisions and they've been around a lot longer) comes down to the winner of Clemson vs. FSU and for me it's just too damn hard to see Clemson, well… Not be Clemson and screw up what could be a perfectly good season. So give me the Seminoles there. 

On the other hand I'm a bit shocked by the lack of talk of Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division. Sure, Miami has some talent and UNC has a great QB and a very underrated head coach too, but Va Tech has a coaching legend (who's only thing missing is a Crystal Ball by the by) and a QB who's ready for a rebound season in Logan Thomas. Underestimating a team that was just one game out of the division race like the Hokies were is just plain silly. However, it's hard to bet against a UNC team given their schedule compared to the rest of the division. 

Conference Champion: FSU over North Carolina
MVP: Duke Johnson, Miami
Coach of the Year: Larry Fedora, North Carolina

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy has been covering college football for nearly half a decade and is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadgers.com. He's also a featured columnist covering college football for Bleacher Report.

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