The Eagles could be playing for bowl eligibility by late in the fall. On the other hand, they could be playing out the season trying to its their coach's job.
Best case: The Eagles continue to show the improvement that sparked their late-season run, that included upsets of NC State and Miami. They win their opener against the Hurricanes and sweep their first three nonconference games. The rash of injuries from last season gives them more depth than they've had in recent years. Chase Rettig meshes with first-year offensive coordinator Doug Martin and a win over Maryland could have them playing Wake for a chance to become bowl eligible three weeks before Thanksgiving.
Worst case: The Hurricanes get their revenge for last year's season-ending upset by blowing B.C. out in the opener. None of the running backs step forward as the lead back, and the defense can't replace LB Luke Kuechly in the middle. Working under another first-year offensive coordinator, Rettig regresses. Suddenly, trips to Northwestern and Army are more daunting than expected, and the Eagles reach the final month of the season with one win -- over Maine -- and a blazing hot seat for coach Frank Spanziani.
Last year's best case: Had the Eagles jumping out to a 4-1 record and playing at Maryland for bowl eligibility just before Halloween.
Last year's worst case: Came pretty close to occurring, at least for the first two months of the season.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.