ACC preseason report: Can NC State separate from ‘Pack?’

July 30, 2002 4:15 AM
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FLORIDA STATE:

Head coach: Bobby Bowden, 37th year

Player to watch: QB Chris Rix

2001-02 ATS record: 6-6

Victory margin: +9

Comments: Ranked preseason No. 1 by Athlon. 1-5 ATS in the last 6 openers, with the win coming last year as a 30-point favorite against Duke. 31-6 SU over the past three years, but only 19-18 ATS. Schedule features nine bowl teams. Picked by conference writers for the 11th straight year to win the ACC. Lost four games last year for the first time since 1983. Bowden begins season with 323 Division I wins.

 

MARYLAND:

Head coach: Ralph Friedgen, 2nd year

Player to watch: LB E.J. Henderson

2001-02 ATS record: 10-2

Victory margin: +11

Comments: 10-1 ATS during the regular season last year, including the first seven games. Noted gaming expert Jim Feist tabs Henderson as the nation’s top defensive player. Tough early season games with opener at Notre Dame and Game 3 at home against Florida State. Picked third in the preseason ACC poll. 2-2 ATS in last four "lined" season openers.

 

GEORGIA TECH:

Head coach: Chan Gailey, 1st year

Player to watch: DE Greg Gathers

2001-02 ATS record: 4-8 ATS

Victory margin: +10

Comments: 1-3 ATS in last four season openers. All-American Gathers begins season with 30 career sacks. Should carry 2-0 record into a league opener at Clemson. Returns 16 of 22 starters, including nine on defense. Did lose three key offensive weapons in QB Godsey, WR Campbell and RB Burns. Gailey, who failed with the Dallas Cowboys, has to overcome the O’Leary factor.

 

NC STATE:

Head coach: Chuck Amato, 3rd year

Player to watch: QB Phillip Rivers

2001-02 ATS record: 5-7

Victory margin: +6

Comments: Selected second in preseason ACC writers poll.16-9 ATS as an underdog over the last five years. Soft first-half schedule could find State 6-0 SU heading into Chapel Hill to face North Carolina. Last year became the first ACC team to beat Florida State in Tallahassee. Plays a 13-game schedule thanks to an Aug. 24 home date vs New Mexico.

 

NORTH CAROLINA:

Head coach: John Bunting, 2nd year

Player to watch: QB Darian Durant

2001-02 ATS record: 6-7

Victory margin: +5

Comments: 2-3 ATS in last five season openers. Must replace defensive coordinator and entire starting front seven, including All-American DE Julius Peppers. Durant was 12th nationally in passing efficiency as a freshman. Brutal opening four games, highlighted by home contests against Texas and Georgia Tech. 10-8 ATS as an underdog over the past three seasons.

 

VIRGINIA:

Head coach: Al Groh, 2nd year

Player to watch: QB Matt Schaub

2001-02 ATS record: 7-4

Victory margin: -7

Comments: 5-2 ATS in season openers since 1995. Allowed 30 points or more six times last year, including three of the last four games. Signed four Parade All-Americans from best recruiting class in more than a decade. Under Groh, suffered first losing season in 15 years. 6-1 ATS as a 1-to-3 point dog over past 10 seasons. Opens the national college football season Aug. 22 against Colorado St.

 

CLEMSON:

Head coach: Tommy Bowden, 4th year

Player to watch: QB Willie Simmons

2001-02 ATS record: 5-5-1

Victory margin: +3

Comments: 4-17 SU on artificial turf over the past four years. Six of the last 10 season openers failed to draw a Las Vegas line. The Tigers were 0-4 ATS in the one that did. Aug. 31 opener at Georgia is toughest in over a decade. Bowden has taken Clemson to a bowl game in each of his three seasons. Tigers have set 125 school records since Bowden took over.

 

WAKE FOREST:

Head coach: Jim Grobe, 2nd year

Player to watch: QB James McPherson

2001-02 ATS record: 6-3-1

Victory margin: -1

Comments: 3-1 ATS in the last four "lined" openers. Last year’s 6-5 SU mark was just the second winning record in a decade. Deacs were 3-0 ATS last year as an underdog of 10 points or more. Have big edge over last year with 16 starters back and the continuity of a coaching staff left intact. Nine games decided by seven points or less. Early home test Sept. 7 vs East Carolina should tell a lot.

 

DUKE:

Head coach: Carl Franks, 4th year

Player to watch: TE Mike Hart

2001-02 ATS record: 2-9

Victory margin: -26

Comments: 0-5 ATS in last five games. Hart was team MVP and an All-ACC selection last year. 0-4 ATS in past four "lined" season openers. Blue Devils 7-40 SU as an underdog since 1997. 4-14 ATS the past two years as an underdog of 10 points or more. Franks is 3-30 SU since arriving in Durham. Big game could be Sept. 28 at Navy when losing streak could reach 27 in a row.