After eight weeks of the 2012 college football season, there is very little clarity in the battle to win the ACC Coastal. North Carolina is ineligible to play in the postseason but can finish No. 1 in the standings. Duke currently ranks at the top, but Virginia Tech and Miami aren't far behind.
Which Team Will Win the ACC Coastal Division?
Ryan Tice (@RyanTice), TheWolfpacker.com
Call me crazy, but I’m picking Miami in the Coastal Division, which is kind of funny because during our last ACC Roundtable, I think I was in the minority when declaring the Hurricanes an ACC contender. I expect I’ll be in the minority once again.
6-2 Duke, who is 3-1 so far against conference foes, has the hardest part of their schedule coming up, and I don’t think they can keep the pace that they have set so far. The Blue Devils will have their work cut out for them just to get another win, although you can never say never in the ACC in 2012.
North Carolina is obviously not eligible for the postseason or the Coastal Division title, so once you rule them out, it really comes down to Miami or Virginia Tech. I think it’s smart to say that wins next weekend’s matchup between the two will find themselves in Charlotte. Miami’s defense can’t stop anybody, but I think their offense finds a way to score more than the Hokies in Coral Gables. This isn’t the typical Virginia Tech defense we’re used to seeing.
Miami is clearly not a top-tier team in the country — their recent three game losing streak proves that — but a team doesn’t need to be to win the Coastal Division. If the Hokies find a way to pull out a win on the road this weekend, expect to see Frank Beamer’s squad in Charlotte for the sixth time since the birth of the Championship game in 2005. I suspect Tech will be the popular pick, but if there’s one thing that this ACC season has taught all of us, it is to expect the unexpected, and that’s why I’m picking Al Golden’s Hurricanes to win the Coastal.
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
Duke sure is tempting. The Blue Devils are the flavor of the moment after digging deep to beat North Carolina, but the toughest game are ahead with Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami. Perhaps if Duke played a little closer in its losses (50-13 to Stanford, 41-20 to Virginia Tech), I’d be more enthusiastic. Miami has lost three in a row, but the Hurricanes may find a way to sneak into the title game. Quarterback Stephen Morris got hurt in a four-point loss to North Carolina and returned for a surprise start against Florida State, a game that was much closer than expected. Miami’s defense is still struggling, but the Hurricanes don’t play any teams (Virginia Tech, Virginia and Duke) who run the ball particularly well. And by the the time Duke faces Miami in the finale, the Blue Devils may already be out of the race.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Duke Polytechnic Institute of Florida? Can I take a three-way tie between Duke, Virginia Tech and Miami? Georgia Tech is still in the mix but would have to win out and then get some help. Duke doesn’t own any key tiebreakers yet as it lost to the Hokies and has a nasty four-game end to the season (at Florida State, Clemson, at Georgia Tech, Miami). Therefore, I think it comes down to Miami or Virginia Tech. The Hokies, who already own tiebreakers over Duke and Georgia Tech, will finish the year with two wins (at Boston College and Virginia at home) and should finish no worse than 4-4. Miami, who has lost three straight games, finishes with two road trips to Virginia and Duke. So it all comes down to Thursday, Nov. 1 when Virginia Tech visits Miami. If the Hokies win at Miami, both will likely finish 5-3 and Frank Beamer will have his sixth Coastal Division title in eight seasons.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
After nine weeks, there’s really no clarity in the race to win the Coastal Division. Surprisingly, Duke sits atop the division with a 3-1 record, but the Blue Devils still have games against Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami remaining. North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech each have two losses in ACC play and there are plenty of landmines on the schedule for all three teams. The Tar Heels are ineligible to win the ACC crown but could finish with a 5-3 record and own victories over Miami and Virginia Tech to claim the Coastal Division crown. With North Carolina unable to play for the title, the race to represent the Coastal in the title game is likely between Miami and Virginia Tech, who meet on Nov. 1 in Sun Life Stadium. Although the Blue Devils could certainly get into the mix, the winner of the Miami-Virginia Tech game should decide who plays the Atlantic champ. The Hokies have been inconsistent this year, but I think their defense steps up, while the offense does just enough to finish 5-3 in conference play and win the division.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
Five wins will be enough to win the division — maybe even four. At this point, I’d give the slight edge to Miami. Duke and Miami both have three wins, but Duke’s closing schedule (at FSU, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami) is more difficult. Miami has this week off before hosting Virginia Tech next Thursday in a huge game for both teams. After playing Tech, the Canes have two more league games — at Virginia and at Duke. Virginia Tech can play its way back in to the mix with a win at Miami, but the Hokies still have to play Florida State. One thing to note: Virginia Tech has a win over Duke, so the Hokies have the edge in a two-team tiebreaker. This is a mess.
As great a story as Duke has been this season, I see the Blue Devils losing at least two of their remaining four ACC games, if not more. One thing's for sure, we will certainly find out how good David Cutcliffe's team is as the Blue Devils will face Florida State and Clemson the next two Saturdays. So if I have Duke with at least three conference losses, who does that leave atop the Coastal? I think it comes down to Miami and Virginia Tech, with the winner most likely decided when these two get together next Thursday night in south Florida. The Hurricanes have two conference losses already, but end their regular season in Durham. The Hokies also have two ACC losses, but hold the tiebreaker over Duke by virtue of their 41-20 victory two weeks ago, and can do the same to the Hurricanes by beating them on the road next week. As bad as the Hokies have looked, I think they will use the bye this week to straighten some things out and will find a way to finish their conference slate 3-1, which is good enough to get them back to Charlotte for their third straight ACC Championship Game berth.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
I am going to take North Carolina to beat NC State for the first time since 2006 this weekend, a victory that will propel the Tar Heels to the division’s best record — even though there will be no trip Charlotte in December. UNC may seem like an unusual choice after losing to Duke and Wake Forest this season, but I believe the excellent offense and favorable November schedule of Larry Fedora’s club will leave UNC atop the divisional standings. The Blue Devils lead the Coastal currently, but still have to play conference top dogs Florida State and Clemson. And despite UNC’s earlier defeats, the Tar Heels do have victories over Virginia Tech and Miami in the race for the Coastal’s best record. As far as who makes it to the league title game, I see it coming down to the winner of the Miami-Virginia Tech battle on Thursday November 1 with the Hokies prevailing.
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