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Fearless Predictions 2006

It is the time of the year when everybody gets into the prediction game. Every conference from the ACC to the RUTS Belt has released votes of where the media types figure the teams will finish. Those covering the ACC, of course, have already released their guesses as the how the two divisions will finish.

If there is one thing that history has proven to be absolutely correct, it is that how the media predicts the conference standings is how they will not end up. I can be just as wrong as they. Without further ado, I present the A-Line’s Fearless 2006 Football Predictions. As always, these predictions are guaranteed to be true unless they are not.

Atlantic Division

1] Florida State

Well, duh. The Noles haven’t really been a major player on the national scene since 2000. Last year St. Bobby saw every possible calamity befell his charges, from numerous injuries along the o-line to his projected starting QB going bonkers during the summer. At the end of the day, however, FSU found itself occupying the same position as it has for most of its conference history, that of ACC champions. Not bad for a reloading year.

Drew Weatherford was unexpectedly thrust into the starting job at quarterback and at times had a rough learning curve, compounded by having no real assurance from week to week that there would even be a line in front of him. Weatherford is back and is now a very experienced sophomore. Combine that with Bowden’s usual supply of top-shelf talent and it will be a good season, quite possibly a very good one.

Season Tone-setting Game: S4 Miami- Away

Well, duh, again. Bobby finally beat the Canes last year. He really, really, needs to do it again.

Projection: 7-1/12-1

2] Boston College

Fredo entered the ACC looking a lot like the program that Tom O’Brien built in the Big East. They won a bunch of games and experienced a few losses, including the obligatory one to Virginia Tech and an inexplicable late-season one to North Carolina that caused Alltel Stadium to be much fuller for the ACC Championship game than it would have been had Fredo beaten the Heels and played in it. It was just like old times for the Eagles when bowl selection time rolled around, as Fredo discovered that the BE’s rule of thumb, if you want to lose a bowl bid for the league, send Fredo, applied to the ACC as well. Did you enjoy Boise , Fredo?

BC enters their second ACC season with a solid team that can never seem to quite get over the hump and win big. This year should be no exception.

Season Tone-setting Game: S9 Clemson- Home

TOB really needs to get this one at home.

Projection: 5-3/9-3

3] Clemson

For years, Tommy Bowden’s recruiting was judged by the recruiting ‘experts’ to be near the bottom of the ACC, right up until the time it was discovered that he had been recruiting pretty well, after all. Go figure.

The Tigers are the trendy pick to win the Atlantic Division. The chances of that happening can be summed up in two words: Inexperienced Quarterback. If the guy replacing David Whitehurst is supposedly better, why wasn’t he starting last year? Clemson has a pretty good team that will struggle early as Will Proctor gets his feet wet. Early-season road games at Fredo and Florida State would seem to indicate that Little Johnny’s ACC schedule-makers get a real kick out of the Tommy Bowden Death Watch.

Season Tone-setting Game: S9 Boston College- Away

If TBowden loses this one it won’t just be the message board loons snarling.

Projection: 5-3/9-3

4] NC State

Throughout Florida State ’s magnificent run during the Nineties, there were loud whispers that St. Bobby was merely a figurehead; Chuck Amato, it was claimed, was the real brains of the operation. If Chuckie has done nothing else during his six years in Raleigh , he has certainly dispelled that notion.

Chuckie’s big year came when he parlayed Mike O’Cain’s players into a 10-win season. He hasn’t done quite so well with all of his own Florida recruits. The State fan base responded big time in stepping up to finance terrific facilities and provide an excellent gameday atmosphere, at least inside Carter-Finley. Chuckie has responded by selling his used bright red game shoes on Ebay.

A lot of Chuckie’s problems have stemmed from his inability to figure out staff. There was the added touch during the 05 season when Chuckie confounded all by hiring an Offensive Coordinator who installed a West Coast Offense totally unsuited to State’s run-oriented personnel. This coaching blundering on a grand scale raises what should be a very good question: Does this guy really know what he is doing?

The Pack enters the Year After What Should Have Been The Really Big One with its terrific defense ripped asunder by the NFL draft. They also enter it with enough talent on hand to get back to a bowl, assuming Chuckie does not elect to determine the direction of the offense each week by coin flip.

Season Tone-setting Game: S16 Southern Miss- Away

It was pretty stupid to schedule this game at one of the strongest of the mid-majors. It was not made any easier when the schedule showed the next two games against Fredo and Florida State . Chuckie had best win this one.

Projection: 3-5/7-5

5] Maryland

Things got a little tougher without Vanderlinden’s players, eh, Ralph? Back-to-back losing seasons was perhaps not what Debbie Yow had in mind when she handed out that big raise and contract extension following Ralph Friedgen’s early success.

The Fridge has had a bit of trouble in construction a complete program on his own in College Park . Things don’t get any easier this year with a monster schedule that includes both FSU and Miami , a trip to Clemson as well as one to the Smithsonian, where Friedgen has great difficulty winning games or even coming close. Throw in an early Thursday-night outing in the hills of West Virginia and Yikes!

Season Tone-setting Game: S14 West Virginia- Away

Wouldn’t it be great if all of that ludicrous MNC talk in Motown came to a very early end? Wouldn’t it be great to watch another riot on ESPN? Maryland has cancelled this series, in large part due to the antics of the mouth-breathing knuckle-dragging sister-lovers that comprise such a large segment of the Cousins’ fan base. You know you have really bad fans when Maryland , of all people, gets upset about them. End this series with a bang, Ralph.

Projection: 2-6/5-7

6] Wake Forest

There is a reason Jim Grobe is chasing jobs at big State U’s all over the country. A pretty good Wake team being picked to finish 6th in the rugged Atlantic Division heads the list. The Deacs should actually field a solid team, at least by Li’l E standards. Of course, Wake plays in the ACC, where life is harder. Grobe’s guys should be capable of knocking off somebody looking past them and scaring the dickens out of everybody else. Unfortunately, serving as league spoiler and hovering around .500 is about all Wake can realistically hope for, meaning Grobe has done about all he can at Wake.

Season Tone-setting Game S23 Mississippi- Away

Wake should breeze into Oxford with a 3-0 record. Win this one and they will become ESPN darlings for a couple of weeks.

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