Today we preview the 2008 college football season by taking a look back at last season's year end team rankings in a little game of over/under.
1. Over/under #106 best rushing offense
Brian: Over. Over. Over. This is year #1 of the true Steve Logan style offense. Year 0 was a modified Logan offense that took away many of the set QB running plays. With Crane being more mobile than Ryan, those plays are now on the table, and I expect Logan and Jags to utilize these quite a bit to keep ACC defenses off-balance with a healthy mix of run and pass.
Jeff: This is an easy one. Not too much room to move down but plenty of opportunity to move up. The team, including the quarterback will rush a lot more this season. Over.
2. Over/under #6 best ACC turnover margin
Jeff: This one is a little tougher to call but it's also over and let me tell you why. First, the defense is going to force as many if not more turnovers because the opposing offense is going to spend more time with the ball this year. Secondly, the offense is going to take far less chances now that Matt Ryan is not at the helm. And, hopefully the first pass of the season this year will not be a pick 6 as Ryan's first pass was against Wake last year.
Brian: I'm going to say way over. Like you said Jeff, I expect the offense to take less chances and have a more controlled, balance attack that should limit the turnovers on offense. We have some holes to fill on the offensive line in year 2 of the zone blocking scheme but I expect the pass protection to be a bit better. On defense, we return one of the stronger units in the country and our strength with the front seven should provide ample opportunity for the secondary to have their fair share of ball hawking.
3. Over/under #2 best rushing defense
Brian: I am going to push here. Surprised? I am predicting we will again be the 2nd best rushing defense in the country. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the #1 and #2 best rushing defenses in the country come out of the ACC. Why? Because NO ONE is going to rush the ball in the ACC. We will have one of the best defensive units in the country, and across the conference defenses will be very strong up front. The only reason I'm not going to go over is because we get Georgia Tech and Paul Johnson's new spread offense in week 2. They have major questions at quarterback and I think they'll run the ball early and often. I wouldn't be surprised if they rack up 150-200+ yards in the game with little to no passing game. The other games we should own the ground game, and our ACC opponents will try to burn us over the top given our weaker secondary.
Jeff: You are no wrong here. Under, under, under. It is just obvious that when you are #2 in the nation you are probably going down from there. Despite the fact that our defense will be as good or better this year, the offense will not eat as much time off the clock, and more importantly, opposing teams won't have the attitude that they need to outscore the Eagles. When opposing teams are playing from behind they run the ball less and throw more as you know. And the last reason is that our passing defense was a weakness that was exploited last year. The defense will be slightly more balanced this year and therefore teams will rush more.
I hate to keep pumping Clemson but don't forget about the Spiller/Davis combo which will once again be hyped as perhaps the best backfield in the nation.
Brian: Don't lie, Jeff. You don't hate plugging Clemson.
4. Over/under #19 best total defense
Jeff: This is a tough call. I'd be happy with a push but I will be optimistic and go over because I think we'll be a part of some lower scoring games this season and no high scoring shootouts like the Maryland game was last year.
Brian: I'm going to be confident and say over. I expect the Eagles to flirt with the top 25 rankings throughout the year, and we are stronger on the defensive side of the ball. We finished #3 in the ACC in this category behind Virginia Tech and Clemson – and both teams will have to overcome significant losses on defense due to graduation. I wouldn't be surprised if we finish #1 in the ACC at year's end.
5. Over/under #3 best ACC scoring offense
Brian: I'm going to have to go under here. If I peer into my crystal ball, I see Cullen Harper and the Clemson Tigers having a more potent offense than BC. Drew Weatherford and the Seminoles having a better offensive output on the season. Add to that list Virginia Tech and Wake Forest too potentially. We have too much inexperience at the QB position and RB that I can't possible go over. The only reasons I would even think of going over are our strength at receiving corps. Still, I see us finishing in the top half of the ACC in this category.
Jeff: The Jags/Logan era will bring us higher scoring teams that TOB and I will expect our offense to be in the top half of the ACC as long as they are there. This year, however, will be their most difficult and I am going under. I'd be happy if we can finish #6.