Tudor

Tudor: Looking ahead to 2011 ACC football season

Staff WriterDecember 6, 2010 

With only 269 days before the first Saturday in September, here are some things to ponder about the 2011 ACC football race.

THE FAVORITES

Atlantic Division: Florida State. EJ Manuel will be better at quarterback, and Oklahoma has to visit Tallahassee this time (Sept. 17) after the Seminoles have back-to-back dress rehearsals against Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern. Duke and Wake Forest are among FSU's league road opponents.

Coastal Division: Virginia Tech. Who else? But with Appalachian State in the opener and a trip to East Carolina after that, can the Hokies count on a 2-0 liftoff?

TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYERS

1. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech running back.

2. Danny O'Brien, Maryland quarterback.

3. Torrey Smith, Maryland receiver.

TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYERS

Assuming, of course, Clemson junior lineman Da'Quan Bowers enters the NFL Draft.

1. Quinton Coples, North Carolina defensive end.

2. Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech cornerback.

3. Brandon Jenkins, Florida State defensive end.

BEST CONFERENCE GAMES

Playing dates and times to be determined in midsummer by the ACC (with ESPN's approval, needless to say).

1. Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech. The Hokies' other three league road trips are to Duke, Virginia and Wake Forest.

2. UNC at N.C. State. Something wild will happen, even if there's not a lot on the line.

3. Wake Forest at Clemson. Dabo Swinney will not sleep a minute all week.

SON OF HEISMAN?

After a visit from Alabama and Mark Ingram in 2010, Duke is scheduled to host Stanford on Sept. 10.

If Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck (a redshirt sophomore this season) hangs around, he'll be high on all 2011 Heisman checklists.

FRIDGE & FRANKLIN MINT

If Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen doesn't step down after the 2011 season, the school will owe its designated coach-in-waiting James Franklin a $1 million compensation payment.

EAST FEAST

With scheduled visits from Louisville (Sept. 3) and Rutgers (Sept. 11) to start the season, North Carolina has a chance to put the Big Bad East under its heel from the opening snap.

CIRCLE THE DATE

The 2011 championship game will be in Charlotte on Dec. 3 - kickoff time and weather conditions pending.

caulton.tudor @newsobserver.com or 919-829-8946

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