CHARLOTTE NC - DECEMBER 04: The Virginia Tech Hokies celebrate after defeating the Florida State Seminoles to win the ACC Championship 44-33 at Bank of America Stadium on December 4 2010 in Charlotte North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Yesterday, I took a look at my preseason ACC Atlantic Division predictions. Today, let's take a look at how I did in the Coastal. Not too bad, all things considered. Overall, I went 53-19 straight up. And if there's one thing I've learned, it's to never pick a Coastal Division champ not named Virginia Tech ...
Predicted: 3-9 (wins Richmond, VMI, Eastern Michigan)
Actual: 4-8 (wins Richmond, VMI, Eastern Michigan, Miami)
Preseason Outlook: "Progress for the Cavaliers will be not losing their game against a team from college football's lower division, as they did a season ago. UVA dropped their season opener to William & Mary, 26-14, setting in motion a season where Virginia would only have three-up and nine-down, and see their long-time head coach Al Groh fired. Enter first-year coach Mike London -- a former BC staffer -- as he tries to rebuild the Cavaliers football program. Virginia opens the season against London's former squad, the Richmond Spiders. As I mentioned, progress will be measured in terms of taking care of business against UVA's two FCS opponents. I think London will get the Cavs those two wins. Throw in a W against the MAC's Eastern Michigan and you'll see the Cavaliers finish 2010 as they finished 2009 -- 3-9 (including 0-8 in the ACC)."
Predicted Bowl Game: No Bowl
Actual Bowl Game: No Bowl
Postseason Thoughts: No more embarrassing FCS losses for the Cavs this year (they left that to their in-state rivals). Throw in a win over Miami and Virginia is right where I thought they'd be in year one under Mike London. Former Tom O'Brien staffers are taking over the world, err, ACC.
Predicted: 3-9 (wins Elon, Army, Virginia)
Actual: 3-9 (wins Elon, at Navy, Virginia)
Preseason Outlook: "Wins will be at a premium for David Cutcliffe and Duke this season, a year after having a brush with bowl eligibility. The Blue Devils haven't been to a bowl in nearly 15 seasons, and this year's schedule doesn't afford Duke much room to get there. This is an improved Duke team from a few seasons ago, when Duke was regularly turning in 0-8 performances in the ACC. But in the top-heavy Coastal Division, it's hard to find ACC wins when you have to play Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and North Carolina, not to mention BC. Throw in hosting the preseason No. 1 team in the country -- Alabama Crimson Tide -- on national TV, and you have the makings of a tough year in Durham."
Predicted Bowl Game: No Bowl
Actual Bowl Game: No Bowl
Postseason Thoughts: It's really a shame that Duke couldn't sniff a bowl game this year. This is an improved Duke squad, but their near brush with college football's postseason last year seems now to be more a product of an easier schedule than anything else. Duke had to navigate a top-heavy Coastal Division schedule as well as Bama, and there just wasn't enough wins on the schedule to get Cutcliffe's crew bowling. Other than mixing up a Service Academy win, I think I had Duke's season pretty well pegged this year. I guess that really isn't heavy lifting though.
Predicted: 9-3 (wins James Madison, East Carolina, at N.C. State, Central Michigan, Wake Forest, Duke, Georgia Tech, at North Carolina, Virginia)
Actual: 10-2 (wins East Carolina, at Boston College, at N.C. State, Central Michigan, Wake Forest, Duke, Georgia Tech, at North Carolina, at Miami, Virginia)
Preseason Outlook: "The Coastal Division race always seems to come back to Virginia Tech. But this year, the Hokies have to reload on defense to the tune of seven new starters. I think the Hokies stumble through September to the tune of 2-2. Over the past few years, the Hokies haven't exactly been fast starters, with early season losses to Alabama, East Carolina and LSU. Virginia Tech then hits its stride mid-season, rattling off six straight wins before falling to Miami in a de facto ACC Coastal Division Championship Game. Still, with a short bowl trip to Atlanta, Beamer's bunch is in position to win 10 wins for a program-best seventh consecutive season."
Predicted Bowl Game: Chick-Fil-A Bowl
Actual Bowl Game: Orange Bowl
Postseason Thoughts: Foolish me. The Coastal Division races does indeed always comes back to the Hokies ...
Predicted: 8-4 (wins Georgia Tech, at Rutgers, East Carolina, Clemson, at Virginia, William & Mary, N.C. State, at Duke)
Actual: 7-5 (wins at Rutgers, East Carolina, Clemson, at Virginia, William & Mary, at Florida State, at Duke)
Preseason Outlook: "No other ACC program will be more under the microscope this season than Butch Davis' North Carolina Tar Heels program. It starts on no bigger stage, too, as the Heels kick off the season in Atlanta against the LSU Tigers (a program that the Heels have struggled against, going just 1-5 all-time). Who knows who will be suiting up for the Tar Heels after all these NCAA investigations conclude. I think you'll see the Heels struggle to an 8-4 season. I say struggle only because before the investigations began swirling around Chapel Hill, there was certainly higher expectations for a UNC squad that boasts five potential first round NFL Draft picks."
Predicted Bowl Game: Meineke Car Care Bowl
Actual Bowl Game: Music City Bowl
Postseason Thoughts: North Carolina was the Coastal Division wild card, and all things considered, my preseason assessment of the Heels wasn't that far off. UNC is probably one of, if not the most talented team in the conference. But they just couldn't put it all together given the personnel that was available to them throughout the year. A few key wins (Clemson, at Florida State) and some tough losses (Virginia Tech, N.C. State both at home) marked an up and down season for Butch Davis and the Heels.
Predicted: 9-3 (wins South Carolina State, at Kansas, N.C. State, at Wake Forest, Virginia, Middle Tennessee, at Clemson, Miami, Duke)
Actual: 6-6 (wins South Carolina State, at North Carolina, at Wake Forest, Virginia, Middle Tennessee, Duke)
Preseason Outlook: "The defending ACC Champions take care of business at home this year, winning all six games, but get tripped up in three tough road contests against North Carolina, Virginia Tech and their in-state SEC rivals, Georgia. In any other season, 9-3 might be good enough to send a program to the ACC Championship Game, but not this year in the top-heavy ACC Coastal Division."
Predicted Bowl Game: Music City Bowl
Actual Bowl Game: Independence Bowl
Postseason Thoughts: The defending Champs definitely struggled on the road this year, but I never thought that it would be as bad as it was for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech went just 2-4 away from Bobby Dodd Stadium this year. Their two wins on the road were a mixed bag -- one slightly impressive (30-24 against a shorthanded UNC team) and one pretty unimpressive (a 24-20 come-from-behind win over Wake Forest). The road losses though were particularly painful, including a week 2 loss to Kansas -- a team that finished 3-9 with one win in the Big 12 this season -- and three straight road losses to Clemson, Virginia Tech and in-state rivals Georgia. I thought Al Groh would help improve a struggling defense, but results were extremely mixed. It will be interesting to see if Paul Johnson can quickly turn it around in Atlanta and return the Jackets to the top of the Coastal in short order.
Predicted: 10-2 (wins Florida A&M, at Pittsburgh, at Clemson, Florida State, at Duke, North Carolina, at Virginia, Maryland, Virginia Tech, South Florida)
Actual: 7-5 (wins Florida A&M, at Pittsburgh, Clemson, at Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, at Georgia Tech)
Preseason Outlook: "I see the Miami Hurricanes surviving a late-season loss to Georgia Tech to advance to the program's first-ever ACC Championship Game. Timing has never really been the ACC's thing. The league finally gets a Miami Hurricanes team into the Championship Game just in time for the game to move from Florida -- where it's been for the last five years -- to North Carolina. A win over Virginia Tech in the Canes' ACC finale propels the Hurricanes to the title game."
Predicted Bowl Game: Orange Bowl
Actual Bowl Game: Sun Bowl
Postseason Thoughts: For the second straight year, I went with the Hurricanes as my Coastal Division title pick. And for the second straight season, I was dead wrong. I'm pretty sure I won't be picking the U to win the division next year, not with Miami firing Shannon and installing a new HC (Al Golden) in Coral Gables. Like my Coastal Champion pick, not much else was right about my preseason prognostications for the U.