ACC: Expert Predictions

By Eye on College Football staff
Hopes are high for new Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. (USATSI)
Hopes are high for new Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. (USATSI)

CBSSports.com's panel of experts break down what to expect in the ACC during the 2013 season:

Tony Barnhart

Offensive Player of the Year: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson. Has posted two straight seasons of 3,800 yards passing and was the overwhelming choice by the media to be the player of the year in the ACC. Doesn't hurt to have a rejuvenated Sammy Watkins back at WR and a veteran O-line.

Defensive Player of the Year: Christian Jones, LB, Florida State: Had 95 tackles as a junior and could have left with the 11 other Seminoles who were drafted. New DC Jeremy Pruitt (from Alabama) will make this guy into a superstar.

Top Newcomer: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. Winston took time off from his baseball commitment to light things up at the spring game. He has to grow up in time to play at Clemson on Oct. 19.

Coach of the Year: Al Golden, Miami. Golden could have left town when the NCAA investigation came down. But he stuck it out and this year will be rewarded with an ACC Coastal title.

Next coordinator to become a head coach: No brainer. Clemson OC Chad Morris is the highest paid assistant in college football at $1.3 million. Next year he'll be running his own shop.

Next head coach to become a coordinator: Mike London of Virginia was the ACC Coach of the Year in 2011. After going 4-8 last season he brought in three former head coaches to get the program out of the ditch.

Most intriguing conference game: Florida State at Clemson, Oct. 19. The winner should finish on top in the Atlantic Division and be favored to win the ACC championship.

Most intriguing non-conference game: Florida at Miami, Sept. 7. The Hurricanes will be better in 2013. After hosting the Gators they will know how far they still have to go to get back among the elite.

Bold conference prediction: In a conference of really good quarterbacks, North Carolina's Bryn Renner will have the best statistics of all.

Dennis Dodd

Offensive Player of the Year: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson. A senior, accomplished quarterback with a motivated, favored program that runs the spread. I see huge numbers, I see Heisman buzz. I see Johnny Manziel without Twitter.

Defensive Player of the Year: Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State. The planets have aligned for an All-ACC safety in 2012. Joyner moves back to his native position, cornerback. He'll be coached by former Alabama assistant Jeremy Pruitt who arrives as coordinator.

Top Newcomer: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. After a spectacular spring, the anticipation is over the top for this 6-foot-4, 220-pound specimen.

Coach of the Year: Al Golden, Miami. Al has carefully guided the Canes through a potentially distracting Shapiro investigation. Miami is ready to take off in Year 3 for Golden, being favored to win the Coastal. Golden is on record as being extremely upset if NCAA case isn't settled by kickoff on Sept. 2.

Next coordinator to become a head coach: Chad Morris, Clemson. This 44-year-old has had some serious interest already. Frankly, I'm surprised Morris is still at Clemson but I understand why. Two words: Tajh. Boyd. The only assistant hotter is Alabama's Kirby Smart.

Most intriguing conference game: Florida State at Clemson, Oct. 19. The Atlantic Division should be at stake. The Tigers should be jacked to the gills after a humiliation in Tally last year. Best thing for the conference would be for the winner to emerge as a national championship contender.

Most intriguing non-conference game: Georgia at Clemson. Perhaps the two best quarterbacks not named Manziel square off in the best game of the opening week.

Bold conference prediction: Thanks to a stellar year from either the Noles or Tigers, the ACC gets back on the championship map. If it wasn't for realignment -- hint, adding Notre Dame -- the ACC might not have remained a BCS league in the playoff era. A title run by either FSU or Clemson shows the league is back after a long, long nap

Bruce Feldman

Offensive Player of the Year: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson. Great player. Great scheme. Good talent around him.

Defensive Player of the Year: Christian Jones, FSU. Not a deep year of playmakers in the ACC on defense, but Jones would be an impact guy in any league.

Top Newcomer: Jameis Winston, FSU. Gifted dual-threat QB whose greatest asset is his leadership skills. Will be a Godsend for Jimbo Fisher.

Coach of the Year: Al Golden. Last year's young team will finally blossom amid all of the NCAA chatter.

Next coordinator to become a head coach: Chad Morris. Yeah, he's making $1.3 million, but he's got a great system that will be showcased with a stud senior QB.

Next head coach to become a coordinator: Was leaning towards Randy Edsall who's had a nightmarish two seasons at Maryland but Mike London's in year four coming off a dud of a 2012 and has a rough schedule and a very shaky offense.

Most intriguing conference game: Miami at Florida State, Nov. 2.

Most intriguing non-conference game: Georgia at Clemson, Aug. 31.

Bold conference prediction: For the first time in a long time, the ACC finally has a strong group of QBs led by Boyd, Stephen Morris and Bryn Renner (Plus keep an eye on Winston at FSU). Don't be surprised if the ACC knocks off some power teams from the SEC this year.

Jeremy Fowler

Offensive Player of the Year: Stephen Morris, QB, Miami. If this is the year of the Hurricane return, Morris will be the catalyst. Clemson's Tajh Boyd will put up big numbers, but if Morris makes the NFL-pedigree jump many think he will, he'll win the popular vote.

Defensive Player of the Year: Christian Jones, LB, FSU. This insane athlete can cover tight ends or, heck, even wide receivers downfield on one down, then creating havoc up front on the next. Needs more polish, but expect a 2013 resume full of big plays all over the field.

Top Newcomer: Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina. Major sleeper here, but Tar Heels coaches are high on this three-star slot receiver. Should make an impact early as polished quarterback Bryn Renner spreads the ball.

Coach of the Year: Larry Fedora, North Carolina. The Tar Heels quietly won eight games last year, and though I picked Miami to win the Coastal division, UNC will be in the thick of the race. Maryland's Randy Edsall will be a close second in COY voting after rebounding from 4-8.

Next coordinator to become a head coach: Clemson OC Chad Morris. The creative playcaller garnered head-coaching buzz last offseason after leading the ACC's best offense. He'll be a head coach as fast as his offense runs no-huddle.

Next head coach to become a coordinator: Wake Forest's Jim Grobe. Grobe is a well-respected coach, but with a 73-74 in 12 seasons in a power conference, something has to give, right? Duplicating last year's 5-7 campaign might spell the end.

Most intriguing conference game: FSU at Clemson, Oct. 19. These two are still the class of the ACC. Imagine if both are undefeated in late October, with a perfect follow-up to last year's 49-37 thriller.

Most intriguing non-conference game: Florida at Miami, Sept. 7. Georgia at Clemson on Aug. 31 will be huge, but if Miami can have its way with a young Gators defense in the early-season South Florida heat, Al Golden will have the momentum he's been looking for.

Bold conference prediction: The ACC has a -- wait for it -- serious national title contender in November for the first time since, what, FSU in 2000? It's been awhile. Either Miami or the winner of the Clemson-FSU game will be undefeated entering the final four weeks of the year. Will they close the deal? Not willing to go that far yet.

ACC
Finish

Barnhart

Dodd

Feldman

Fowler

Palm

Fornelli

Hinnen

Patterson
Atlantic
1.********
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Coastal
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

* - Conference champion

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