Well really FSU and by proxy the rest of the ACC since it is all related at one level or another. First things first, the first part of the magazine is the national section. The first thing of real interest to me here was a complete ranking of all the jobs in the FBS. The #1 slot is hard to argue against, and the winner is Texas. They have a ton of money, a near lock on all the talent in their state, a fairly easy schedule every year and they run their conference. The important thing to me was that FSU came in 7th, the only ACC team in the top 10 and six spots ahead of Miami. Some people may think we should be higher, but the top 5 are UT, USC, UF, Alabama and tOSU. IMO with a lot of success we could maybe beat out OU but that is it.
Second order of FSU business in the magazine is their top 25 where I think FSU is fairly overrated at 13. I just don't think we should be ranked ahead of Miami, Wisconsin, Pitt or maybe even UNC without even playing a game. After that we have their All-America teams.FSU gets two 1st teamers, Rodney Hudson and everyone's favorite PR Greg Reid. You would think if Ponder didn't make the first team he would be on one of their lists, and you would be wrong. Kellen Moore makes 2nd team and Terrelle Pryor makes 3rd. Personally I wouldn't take either one of those two over Ponder, Locker or Luck. In fact I wouldn't take Mallet before Ponder, Locker or Luck either. No other Noles are on the list, but who else could you make a case for? Maybe Bradham but if you look at the numbers and play of the other LBs that is a tough case to make.
Next is Athlon's ranking of position groups in the ACC. FSU comes in at 1st for QB and OL, 4th for RB, 3rd for WR/TE, 5th for DL, 6 for LB and 9th for DBs. VT, GT and BC come in ahead of us for RB, in that order, so a case could be made that FSU should be 3rd. I don't think Harris is better than any back on our roster, I just think BC's passing game was so poor last season that they relied on him more than FSU had to rely on any back. Miami and Duke come in ahead of FSU for the WR/TE group, so of course I think FSU should be 2nd. Yes Duke's leading receiver would be the leading WR in numbers at FSU, but he isn't such a talent that he would get the same number of balls thrown his way. Just looking at the numbers though both of Duke's top 2 WRs would have led FSU in yards last season so this ranking is justifiable even if I don't agree with it. The defensive rankings are all low, as expected considering last year, but I don't agree that FSU only has better DBs than UMD, NC State and Duke. I am surprised Athlon put UVA's DBs at 5th when they picked off less balls than the Noles and pass break ups are similar. Yes our guys were burned a lot, but with proper coaching I expect our guys to quickly be better than the Cavs. If I a missing something please let me know in the comments.
The big non-ACC news in the rankings is that UNC comes in 1st at DL, LB and DB, while being in the bottom half of everything offensively. That team will either be really good, or a waste of talent. No ACC teams comes in the top half of the rankings in every category. The closest are Miami, who comes in 6th in both RB and OL, and VT, who comes in 8th at WR/TE and 7th at LB. Athlon also gives a top 10 positional ranking for all groups. FSU shows up twice here, coming in 2nd to Wisconsin at OL and 8th at QB. 8th. How do 7 teams have a better QB situation than FSU? Even if Athlon thinks Mallett, Moore and Pryor are the 3 best QBs in the land, are they so much better than Ponder that they overcome the depth that EJ brings? If Pryor goes down the Buckeye fans will think their season is gone, if Ponder goes down we will still be expecting to win.
Now on to the season preview. Athlon has picked FSU to win the Atlantic, going 9-4 in the regular season with the only ACC loss coming in the ACC title game. One big problem with this prediction to me, for FSU to run the table in the ACC during the regular season, yet still lose 3 regular season games means the Noles have to lose to BYU. Athlon is really calling that one? What about the thumping from last year, BYU's recruiting, or what flashes shown by their young players made that prediction make sense? Our opponent that beats us in the ACC title game? Va Tech. Athlon has the Canes dropping a game to us and one other conference opponent, while the Hokies drop one ACC game. That one loss is the only L Athlon sees VT having before bowl season, which means Athlon has no faith in Boise State's title hopes.
As a conference Athlon's predictions would be good for the ACC. VT at 12-1, FSU at 9-4, Miami at 9-3 , Ga Tech at 8-4 UNC at 8-4, and BC at 8-4. They also had Clemson at 9-3 but that was before Parker left town. Depending on when the wins happen and how Bowl season plays out it could turn out to be good for the conference. A 9-4 season with a conference title game appearance would also be a big step in the right direction for FSU.