2011 ACC Atlantic predictions

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5th place: Clemson

Two through five in this division are probably going to run pretty close together, and I had to pick a team to fall into this slot; that honor came upon the Tigers. Now I’m left with the task of justifying it.

Clemson has some nice pieces, particularly someone like RB Andre Ellington and wide outs like DeAndre Hopkins, and they’ve brought in a new offensive coordinator in Chad Morris to shake things up.

There are a few things, however, that pushed me in the direction of slotting them in at fifth, the first and foremost of which is the schedule. They get two cupcakes in Troy and Wofford, but beyond that, it’s a pretty tough ride for the Tigers. Their following four weeks after those two games are Auburn, FSU, Virginia Tech, and our BC Eagles. The other Tigers don’t figure to be as good as last year (which means 9-3 or so by their standards) while two of those other three beat them last season. They get Wake Forest but not Duke or Virginia, and they end the season at a South Carolina team that will do its best to get back to the SEC title game. After that, they have a coach in Dabo Swinney who is just OK in my view, and they’ve lost a little bit of defense with DaQuan Bowers’ departure. Add that with a new starter at quarterback (Tajh Boyd) and I think you get an overall .500 team with probably more losses than wins in conference.