SI's Andy Staples is out with his way too early 2013 rankings. The good news is just two of Boston College football's 2013 opponents cracked the early top 25.
10. Clemson Tigers (11-2)
The return of quarterback Tajh Boyd makes the Tigers the favorite in the ACC. Tailback Andre Ellington and receiver Nuke Hopkins are gone, but if receiver Sammy Watkins can keep himself from getting suspended for early-season games, he can exit camp as the focal point of the offense and reclaim the magic that made him one of the nation's best receivers as a freshman. Coordinator Brent Venables had the defense playing better at season's end. If that improvement continues through the offseason, the Tigers will deserve this ranking.
My take: Clemson will be a popular BCS National Championship Game dark horse pick next season and it's hard to argue against that. Boyd's return is huge for an offense that put up 512.7 yards a game in 2012, ranking ninth in the country in total offense. Clemson also dropped video game numbers on opponents, averaging 41.0 points a game. Good for sixth nationally behind only Louisiana Tech, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Baylor. It's not the offense the Tigers have to worry about in 2013; it's the defense. Venables may have had Clemson's D playing better down the stretch, but we are all intimately familiar with the perils of using a 1/2 season sample size to show improvement (see also: the second half of Boston College's 2011 season).
The one place when Clemson's title hopes could get derailed is the schedule. The Tigers get Georgia and Florida State at home this year and have to go to Williams-Brice to play the 'Cocks. And, while Clemson-ing when on vacation this year, there's always the possibility that it once again rears its ugly head. BC has to go to Death Valley this year and, well, yeah.
16. Florida St. Seminoles (12-2)
I made a promise last season, and I intend to keep it. I'm not going to go overboard on Florida State until the Seminoles prove they can avoid the random ACC road losses that have derailed their hopes of late. That said, if Florida State goes to Clemson and wins, the Seminoles will probably jump into the top 10. Florida State has the potential to be very good. Rashad Greene is a fine receiver, and most of the offensive line is back. The competition at quarterback between Clint Trickett and redshirt freshman Jameis Winston should be intriguing. Meanwhile, on defense, former five-star recruits Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman will have a chance to show why they were so hyped coming out of high school.
My take: I'm as much of a "Seminoles need to prove they are back" guy as the next person, but Staples comments here don't sit well with me. Why does "avoiding a random ACC road loss" need to be a mark against Florida State's chances in 2013? Not sure how relevant that is, particularly with the teams that Staples ranks ahead of the 'Noles. TCU didn't have just one random lost last season. The Frogs lost six games. Michigan lost five. Florida State beat Staples' #10 team in Clemson. Louisville had not one but two random Big East losses (one a 3OT loss to UConn).
It's entirely possible that I, too, end up overrating the Seminoles going into the fall, but for the first time in a very long time, the defending ACC champs have earned a higher preseason ranking than #16. Plus, with a 2013 slate that includes Wofford, Nevada and Idaho, as well as Miami and Pittsburgh from the Coastal, it's entirely possible that FSU finds its way back to Miami in January.
Florida State comes to the Heights in 2013 but I'm not sure it matters one way or the other at this point.
Absent from Staples' countdown: 7-6 USC (refreshing), 7-6 Virginia Tech and 8-4 North Carolina. It's only a matter of time before Virginia Tech is back in everyone's preseason rankings, but I think the Coastal Division that should be ranked is UNC; not Virginia Tech. Similarly, USC will find a way to jump back into the preseason polls. Just watch.
But with only two 2013 opponents getting early Top 25 love, it's clear that the Eagles' schedule next season will be a little lighter than it was this year.