Final ACC Conference Report Card

Eight teams in the ACC are bowl eligible: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. Miami (FL) self-imposed sanctions, agreed to forego a bowl game this year, otherwise they would have been bowl eligible. Boston College started the year awful, but made strides. Maryland was a disappointment and Duke was, well, Duke.

It’s time to look at the fourth quarter of the season report card for ACC teams; the regular season is over, heading into the bowl season. The report card will factor in each team’s success (or lack thereof) offensively and defensively, while keeping their win-loss record in mind. In the event a team is playing in a bowl game, it will be noted.

Note: No predictions were done for the conference title.

Boston College – Projected Record: (6-6); Actual Record: (4-8)

Total Offense: 298.75 yards/game; 112th.

Run Offense: 130.92 yards/game; 83rd. Pass Offense: 167.80 yards/game; 100th.

Total Defense: 394.33 yards/game; 73rd.

Run Defense: 151.08 yards/game; 60th. Pass Defense: 243.25 yards/game; 80th.

Notes: Boston College finished with their worst record since 1998, when the Eagles finished 4-7; Boston College misses their first bowl game in 12 years! It was a tough season for Coach Frank Spaziani, who was thought to be on the hot seat. On November 25, 2011, Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo made it clear that Spaziani would return as head coach next season. Offensively, QB Chase Rettig (1960 passing yards, 53.6% completion, 12 passing TDs, but 9 INTs), RBs Rolandan Finch (705 rushing yards, 4.5/carry, and 3 rushing TDs) and Andre Williams (517 rushing yards, 4.2/carry, and 4 rushing TDs), and WR Colin Larmond (528 receiving yards, 15.5/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) have paced the Eagles. Spaziani is finishing his third year as head coach (he has been with the program continuously since 1999). Since 2005, the highest recruiting ranking, in the ACC, for the Eagles has been 7th. Its clear Boston College has been able to make due with, and they will have to do so next year, if Spaziani wants to coach in 2013. Boston College has non-conference tilts at Northwestern and home to Army, Notre Dame, and Maine. They have winnable conference games against Maryland at home, and North Carolina State and Wake Forest on the road. Boston College will struggle to be bowl eligible next year, and will likely be home for the holidays, again, in 2012.

Wins: Massachusetts (45-17); @ Maryland* (28-17); NC State* (14-10); @ Miami (FL)* (24-17).

Losses: Northwestern (17-24); @ UCF (3-30); Duke* (19-20); Wake Forest* (19-27); @ #8 Clemson* (14-36); @ #12 Virginia Tech* (14-30); Florida State* (7-38); @ Notre Dame (14-16).

Current Grade: F.

 

Clemson – Projected Record: (7-5); Actual Record: (10-3)

Total Offense: 440.62 yards/game; 29th.

Run Offense: 155.85 yards/game; 61st. Pass Offense: 284.80 yards/game; 21st.

Total Defense: 379.38 yards/game; 59th.

Run Defense: 176.46 yards/game; 80th. Pass Defense: 202.92 yards/game; 39th.

Notes: When we last talked, Clemson was 6-0, defeating opponents by an average of 15.5 points/game; life was good. Since that time, Clemson was 3-3 in the regular season, with an average score of 35.5-31.5, favoring opponents. Despite the late season slide, Clemson came up big in the ACC Championship, trouncing Virginia Tech 38-10, getting to double-digit wins for the first time since 1990! Clemson will meet West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl. Clemson’s big three – QB Tajh Boyd (3578 passing yards, 60.5% completion, and 31 passing TDs), WR/KR Sammy Watkins (1153 receiving yards, 15.0/catch, and 11 receiving TDs), and RB Andre Ellington (1062 rushing yards, 5.0/carry, and 10 rushing TDs) – led the way offensively. Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney led the Tigers to their fifth season with at least nine wins since 2000. Definitely an impressive job done by Swinney, considering he was on the hot seat to begin the season. Considering the team started 8-0 and was a National Title contender, the late season slide left a bad taste in the mouth’s of Tigers fan. Coach Swinney signed four-5 star recruits last season: LB Stephone Anthony, RB Mike Bellamy, LB Tony Steward, and WR Sammy Watkins. The Tigers have eight-4 star verbal commits for the 2012 class, including, WR Germone Hopper, QB Chad Kelly (Jim Kelly’s son), and OL Isaiah Battle. Clemson’s non-conference schedule is workable – Auburn (@ Atlanta, GA), Ball State, Furman, and Clemson. Clemson has tough home games against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech; tough road game against Florida State. Clemson has a good shot at returning to the ACC Championship game, but with a visit to Tallahassee, will likely come up just short.

Wins: Troy (43-19); Wofford (35-27); #21 Auburn (38-24); #11 Florida State* (35-30); @ #11 Virginia Tech* (23-3); Boston College* (36-14); @ Maryland* (56-45); North Carolina* (59-38); Wake Forest* (31-28); vs. Virginia Tech* (38-10).

Losses: @ Georgia Tech* (17-31); @ NC State* (13-37); @ #12 South Carolina (13-34).

Current Grade: A.

 

Duke – Projected Record: (3-9); Actual Record: (3-9)

Total Offense: 386.86 yards/game; 81st.

Run Offense: 100.00 yards/game; 114th. Pass Offense: 272.20 yards/game; 28th.

Total Defense: 425.42 yards/game; 92nd.

Run Defense: 180.67 yards/game; 85th. Pass Defense: 244.75 yards/game; 85th.

Notes: The Blue Devils haven’t made a bowl game since the 1994 Hall of Fame Bowl, which is now defunct. For the 17th straight year, Duke has missed a bowl game. The record didn’t improve this year under Coach David Cutcliffe, but Duke was at least competitive. Four of Duke’s losses were by seven points or less (Richmond, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech). QB Sean Renfree (2891 passing yards, 65.0% completion, 13 passing TDs, but 11 INTs) led the Blue Devil passing attack, with the aid of WR Conner Vernon (956 receiving yards, 13.7/catch, and 5 receiving TDs) and RB Juwan Thompson (457 rushing yards, 4.2/carry, and 7 rushing TDs). Duke is in a tough division, with Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, who have all of the ACC Coastal Division title appearances between them. Miami (FL) and Virginia are two rapidly improving programs. That leaves North Carolina and Duke, and Duke is 1-16 against North Carolina since 1994 (lone win in 2003). Cutcliffe’s recruiting classes were ranked 11th (2007), 12th (2008), 9th (2009), 12th (2010), and 11th (2011). Recruiting will need to improve if the Blue Devils want to snap their bowl-less streak in 2012.

Wins: @ Boston College* (20-19); Tulane (48-27); @ Florida International (31-27).

Losses: Richmond (21-23); #16 Stanford (14-44); Florida State* (16-41); Wake Forest* (23-24); #12 Virginia Tech* (10-14); @ Miami (FL)* (14-49); @ Virginia* (21-31); Georgia Tech* (31-38); @ North Carolina* (21-37).

Current Grade: D-.

 

Florida State – Projected Record: (10-2); Actual Record: (8-4)

Total Offense: 375.75 yards/game; 73rd.

Run Offense: 118.08 yards/game; 99th. Pass Offense: 257.70 yards/game; 34th.

Total Defense: 274.58 yards/game; 6th.

Run Defense: 81.83 yards/game; 2nd. Pass Defense: 192.75 yards/game; 18th.

Notes: Florida State started out the season 2-3, with wins over teams who finished a combined 4-19. Florida State’s first three losses were to teams who were a combined 25-12 in the regular season. Florida State will meet Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl. QB EJ Manuel’s (2417 passing yards, 65.4% completion, 16 passing TDs, but 8 INTs) ball security leaves a lot to be desired. Florida State has been led by RB Devonta Freeman (531 rushing yards, 5.0/carry, and 8 rushing TDs) and WRs Rodney Smith (527 receiving yards, 16.5/catch, and 4 receiving TDs) and Rashad Greene (497 receiving yards, 15.1/catch, and 6 receiving TDs). Since starting 2-3, Florida State has been 6-1, outscoring opponents by an average of 30-11. Florida State hasn’t had back-to-back 10+ win seasons since 1999-2000. In 2012, Florida State faces Murray State, West Virginia, travels to South Florida, and hosts rival Florida. Florida State has tough road games against Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech and faces a tough home test against Clemson. Florida State has a great chance to match their ten regular season wins. Don’t be surprised to see Florida State as an early favorite in their division.

Wins: Louisiana-Monroe (34-0); Charleston Southern (62-10); @ Duke* (41-16); Maryland* (41-16); NC State* (34-0); @ Boston College* (38-7); Miami (FL)* (23-19); @ Florida (21-7).

Losses: #1 Oklahoma (13-23); @ #21 Clemson* (30-35); @ Wake Forest* (30-35); Virginia* (13-14).

Current Grade: B.

 

Georgia Tech – Projected Record: (8-4); Actual Record: (8-4)

Total Offense: 459.58 yards/game; 17th.

Run Offense: 316.83 yards/game; 3rd. Pass Offense: 142.80 yards/game; 112th.

Total Defense: 361.17 yards/game; 45th.

Run Defense: 162.92 yards/game; 70th. Pass Defense: 198.25 yards/game; 30th.

Notes: Last time we checked in, Georgia Tech was 6-2, with a two game losing streak. Since then, the Yellow Jackets have alternated wins and losses, being outscored by opponents 116-112 over that stretch. Despite the two ACC losses, Georgia Tech controlled their own destiny heading into the Virginia Tech game, and had the benefit of hosting the Hokies. Georgia Tech lost that game. Georgia Tech draws PAC-12 newcomer Utah in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. QB Tevin Washington (2405 total yards, 46.7% completion, and 24 total TDs), RB Orwin Smith (616 rushing yards, 10.3/carry, and 11 total TDs), RB David Sims (698 rushing yards, 5.2/carry, and 7 rushing TDs), and WR Stephen Hill (785 receiving yards, 30.2/catch, and 4 receiving TDs) lead the Jackets. Georgia Tech last missed a bowl game in 1996! Despite that streak, Georgia Tech hasn’t won a bowl game since 2004. Coach Paul Johnson’s first recruiting class was in the top third of the ACC, since then, every recruiting class has been in the bottom third. Despite that, he has gotten players to fit the triple option, and has been largely successful. Georgia Tech plays Brigham Young, Middle Tennessee, Southeastern Louisiana, and at Georgia in non-conference play. The Yellow Jackets have tough competition at home against Miami (FL) and Virginia and tough road games against Clemson, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech’s eight win season was a surprise this year; don’t be surprised to see Georgia Tech take a step back next season. Georgia Tech will likely not meet this year’s eight win season in 2012.

Wins: Western Carolina (63-21); @ Middle Tennessee (49-21); Kansas (66-24); North Carolina* (35-28); @ NC State* (45-35); Maryland* (21-16); #5 Clemson* (31-17); @ Duke* (38-31).

Losses: @ Virginia* (21-24); @ Miami (FL)* (7-24); #10 Virginia Tech* (26-37); #13 Georgia (17-31).

Current Grade: B.

 

Maryland – Projected Record: (6-6); Actual Record: (2-10)

Total Offense: 379.67 yards/game; 68th.

Run Offense: 169.33 yards/game; 44th. Pass Offense: 210.30 yards/game; 77th.

Total Defense: 457.17 yards/game; 108th.

Run Defense: 219.75 yards/game; 110th. Pass Defense: 237.42 yards/game; 73rd.

Notes: Maryland finishes with two wins for the second time in three years. Maryland’s last win came on October 1st. In their last seven games, Maryland was barely competitive, being outscored 288-163. 10 of the teams on Maryland’s schedule had enough wins to be bowl eligible. C.J. Brown (842 passing yards, 49.4% completion, 7 passing TDs, but 6 INTs) led the Terps most of the season. RB Davin Meggett (896 rushing yards, 5.2/carry, and 4 rushing TDs), and WR Kevin Dorsey (573 receiving yards, 12.7/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) led the Terps. Coach Randy Edsall’s first (partial) recruiting class was in the bottom third of the ACC. Maryland should improve next year, in its second season under Coach Edsall. Maryland faces Temple, Connecticut and West Virginia in non-conference play, with one game yet to be announced. The Terps have winnable home conference games against Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, and Wake Forest, with a winnable road game at Boston College. Maryland will exceed their 2011 win total in 2012.

Wins: Miami (FL)* (32-24); Towson (28-3).

Losses: #18 West Virginia (31-37); Temple (7-38); @ #13 Georgia Tech* (16-21); #8 Clemson* (45-56); @ Florida State* (16-41); Boston College* (17-28); Virginia* (13-31); Notre Dame (21-45); @ Wake Forest* (10-31); @ NC State* (41-56).

Current Grade: F.

 

Miami (FL) – Projected Record: (9-3); Actual Record: (6-6)

Total Offense: 377.75 yards/game; 72nd.

Run Offense: 145.67 yards/game; 74th. Pass Offense: 232.10 yards/game; 61st.

Total Defense: 359.92 yards/game; 44th.

Run Defense: 161.92 yards/game; 68th. Pass Defense: 198.00 yards/game; 28th.

Notes: After a turbulent season, the ‘Canes finish .500. Miami (FL) knocked off Georgia Tech in dominating fashion, and nearly knocked off Kansas State, Virginia Tech, and Florida State. They also lost to doormats Maryland and Boston College. Miami (FL) self-imposed sanctions, forfeiting what would have been a bowl bid. The Hurricanes are led offensively by QB Jacory Harris (2486 passing yards, 65.0% completion, and 20 passing TDs), RB Lamar Miller (1272 rushing yards, 5.6/carry, and 9 rushing TDs), and WRs Travis Benjamin (609 receiving yards, 14.9/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) and Tommy Streeter (811 receiving yards, 17.6/catch, and 8 receiving TDs). Recruiting has never been a problem at Miami (FL). Coach Al Golden will need to get his players into Coral Gables. This team should make a run at the ACC Championship in two years, and should improve on this year’s win total. Miami (FL)’s ACC road schedule is forgiving, with games against Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, and Virginia. The Hurricanes host tough conference games against Florida State and Virginia Tech, but have easier games against North Carolina State and North Carolina. Games at Kansas State and Notre Dame (@ Chicago) present a challenge, but games against Bethune-Cookman and South Florida are winnable. Miami (FL) should exceed their six-win total from 2011, in 2012.

Wins: #17 Ohio State (24-6); Bethune-Cookman (45-14); @ North Carolina* (30-24); #22 Georgia Tech* (24-7); Duke* (49-14); @ South Florida (6-3).

Losses: @ Maryland* (24-32); Kansas State (24-28); @ #21 Virginia Tech* (35-38); Virginia* (21-28); @ Florida State* (19-23); Boston College* (17-24).

Current Grade: C.

 

NC State – Projected Record: (6-6); Actual Record: (7-5)

Total Offense: 346.17 yards/game; 93rd.

Run Offense: 108.17 yards/game; 107th. Pass Offense: 238.00 yards/game; 52nd.

Total Defense: 351.92 yards/game; 39th.

Run Defense: 132.42 yards/game; 41st. Pass Defense: 219.50 yards/game; 55th.

Note: NC State will be in a bowl game for the 8th time since 2000. The Wolfpack have not been an ACC contender by any means, averaging 6.7 wins a season from 2000-2010; The Wolfpack have only had one double-digit win season over that stretch. The Wolfpack will meet Louisville in the Belk Bowl. NC State is led by QB Mike Glennon (2790 passing yards, 62.4% completion, 28 passing TDs, but 11 INTs), RB James Washington (852 rushing yards, 4.0/carry, and 7 rushing TDs), and WR T.J. Graham (641 receiving yards, 16.4/catch, and 5 receiving TDs). NC State needed to get to seven wins because of their two wins against FCS opponents. The Wolfpack won their of their four games down the stretch, stubbing their tie in Chestnut Hill, but following it up with wins over Clemson and Maryland to meet the required seven wins. Making a bowl game this year, after a 2-3 start (wins over FCS Liberty and FCS South Alabama), likely saved Coach Tom O’Brien’s job. Next year, NC State will need at least seven wins again to be bowl eligible, with games against FCS opponents The Citadel and South Alabama. The Wolfpack also meet up with Tennessee (@ Atlanta, GA) and at Connecticut. North Carolina State hosts winnable games against Boston College, Virginia, and Wake Forest, while traveling to Maryland for a potential winnable game. Seven wins might be the most wins to expect out of the Wolfpack next season, six might be a bit more realistic.

Wins: Liberty (43-21); South Alabama (35-13); Central Michigan (38-24); @ Virginia* (28-14); North Carolina* (13-0); #7 Clemson* (37-13); Maryland* (56-41).

Losses: @ Wake Forest* (27-34); @ Cincinnati (14-44); #21 Georgia Tech* (35-45); @ Florida State* (0-34); @ Boston College* (10-14).

Current Grade: C+.

 

North Carolina – Projected Record: (7-5); Actual Record: (7-5)

Total Offense: 396.58 yards/game; 52nd.

Run Offense: 147.42 yards/game; 72nd. Pass Offense: 249.20 yards/game; 43rd.

Total Defense: 352.92 yards/game; 40th.

Run Defense: 106.17 yards/game; 14th. Pass Defense: 246.75 yards/game; 90th.

Notes: Interim head coach Everett Withers, despite all of the potential distractions in Chapel Hill, has the Tar Heels bowl eligible for the fourth straight year. North Carolina started 5-1 and fizzled down the stretch, going 2-4, but the Tar Heels will get some more valuable practice time heading into the bowl season, with their win over Wake Forest, and subsequent win over Duke. Missouri meets North Carolina in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl. The Tar Heels were led offensively by QB Bryn Renner (2769 passing yards, 68.8% completion, 23 passing TDs, but 12 INTs), RBs Giovani Bernard (1222 rushing yards, 5.4/carry, and 13 rushing TDs) and Ryan Houston (325 rushing yards, 3.8/carry, and 7 rushing TDs), and WR Dwight Jones (1119 receiving yards, 14.2/catch, and 11 receiving TDs). Since 2008, North Carolina, at worst, has been in the top half of the ACC in terms of recruiting, including nine-4 star recruits last year, like DT Devonte Brown, OL Kiaro Holts, WR T.J. Thorpe, and QB Marquise Williams. Its clear the talent is available for North Carolina. The question is whether the recruits will continue to come to Chapel Hill with their third coaching change in three years. On December 7, 2011, North Carolina announced that Southern Miss Head Coach Larry Fedora would be their next coach. North Carolina has non-conference games against Elon, at Louisville, East Carolina, and Idaho. The Tar Heels have winnable games against Georgia Tech, Maryland, and North Carolina State at home. Winnable road contests include Duke, Virginia, and Wake Forest. North Carolina should exceed seven wins in 2012.

Wins: James Madison (42-10); Rutgers (24-22); Virginia* (28-17); @ East Carolina (35-20); Louisville (14-7); Wake Forest* (49-24); Duke* (37-21).

Losses: @ #25 Georgia Tech* (28-35); Miami (FL)* (24-30); @ #7 Clemson* (38-59); @ NC State* (0-13); @ #8 Virginia Tech* (21-24).

Current Grade: C+.

 

Virginia – Projected Record: (7-5); Actual Record: (8-4)

Total Offense: 396.83 yards/game; 51st.

Run Offense: 165.33 yards/game; 53rd. Pass Offense: 231.50 yards/game; 62nd.

Total Defense: 343.17 yards/game; 30th.

Run Defense: 128.33 yards/game; 34th. Pass Defense: 214.83 yards/game; 50th.

Notes: The Cavaliers are in their first bowl game since 2007. Virginia started the season 2-2, looking like another season they would be home for the holidays. Since that time, Virginia went 6-2, despite being outscored by opponents, on average, 22-20. Virginia draws #25 Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Virginia is led by QB Michael Rocco (2359 passing yards, 60.3% completion, 13 total TDs, but 11 INTs), RBs Perry Jones (883 rushing yards, 5.0/carry, and 5 rushing TDs) and Kevin Parks (661 rushing yards, 4.7/carry, and 8 rushing TDs). Virginia’s recruiting class was in the top third of the ACC last season, with five-4 star recruits: ATH Darius Jennings, DB Demetrious Nicholson, DB Brandon Phelps, RB Clifton Richardson, and ATH Dominique Terrell. So far, for the 2012 class, Virginia has four-4 stars who are verbal commits: DE Eli Harold, LB Kwontie Moore, DE Michael Moore, and ATH Canaan Severin. Virginia’s non-conference schedule is tough next season, with games against Penn State, at TCU, and Louisiana Tech (Richmond is the fourth). Virginia does avoid Clemson and Florida State, though, but picks up Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech on the road. Virginia draws tough home games against Miami (FL) and North Carolina Despite Virginia getting even better next year, it might be tough to match this year’s win total.

Wins: William & Mary (40-3); @ Indiana (34-31); Idaho (21-20 OT); #12 Georgia Tech* (24-21); @ Miami (FL)* (28-21); @ Maryland* (31-13); Duke* (31-21); @ #25 Florida State* (14-13).

Losses: @ North Carolina* (17-28); Southern Miss (24-30); NC State* (14-28); #5 Virginia Tech* (0-38).

Current Grade: B-.

 

Virginia Tech – Projected Record: (12-0); Actual Record: (11-2)

Total Offense: 415.77 yards/game; 38th.

Run Offense: 188.69 yards/game; 31st. Pass Offense: 227.10 yards/game; 66th.

Total Defense: 313.92 yards/game; 12th.

Run Defense: 107.77 yards/game; 17th. Pass Defense: 206.15 yards/game; 41st.

Notes: Virginia Tech has represented the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship now five times out of seven possible times (Georgia Tech in 2006 and 2009). Virginia Tech has won at least ten games in nine of the last ten seasons (8 wins in 2003) and hasn’t had a losing record since 1992. From 1987 to 1992, Coach Frank Beamer was 24-40-2. Since that time, he is 184-56. Virginia Tech received an at large bid into the BCS, facing #13 Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. Virginia Tech has been led, offensively, by QB Logan Thomas (2799 passing yards, 59.2% completion, and 29 total TDs, but 9 INTs), RBs David Wilson (1627 rushing yards, 6.1/carry, and 9 rushing TDs) and Josh Oglesby (336 rushing yards, 3.7/carry, and 6 rushing TDs), and WRs Danny Coale (787 receiving yards, 15.1/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) and Jarrett Boykin (731 receiving yards, 12.8/catch, and 5 receiving TDs). Virginia Tech hasn’t had the top recruiting class in the ACC in any of the past ten years, but that hasn’t stopped Coach Beamer from producing the top program in the ACC. The non-conference schedule is tougher next year, with games against former Big East opponents Pittsburgh and Cincinnati; Virginia Tech plays Bowling Green and another game to be announced. The Hokies have tough home games against Florida State and Georgia Tech and tough roadies at Clemson and Miami (FL). Regardless, don’t be surprised if the Hokies post another double-digit win season next year.

Wins: Appalachian State (66-13); @ East Carolina (17-10); Arkansas State (26-7); @ Marshall (30-10); Miami (FL)* (38-35); @ Wake Forest* (38-17); Boston College* (30-14); @ Duke* (14-10); @ #21 Georgia Tech* (37-26); North Carolina* (24-21); @ Virginia* (38-0).

Losses: #13 Clemson* (3-23); vs. #20 Clemson* (10-38).

Current Grade: B+.

 

Wake Forest – Projected Record: (2-10); Actual Record: (6-6)

Total Offense: 374.50 yards/game; 76th.

Run Offense: 118.92 yards/game; 96th. Pass Offense: 255.60 yards/game; 36th.

Total Defense: 399.08 yards/game; 75th.

Run Defense: 162.92 yards/game; 70th. Pass Defense: 236.17 yards/game; 71st.

Notes: Coach Jim Grobe has now lead the Demon Deacons to five bowl games in ten years, including an 11 win season in 2006. Wake Forest started out 4-1, with an average MOV of 12.4/game. Since that time, Wake Forest is 2-5, but a crucial win over Maryland made the Deacs’ bowl eligible. Over the last seven games, Wake has been outscored 216-148. Wake Forest accepted an invite to the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, with their opponent being Mississippi State. QB Tanner Price (2803 passing yards, 60.9% completion, and 20 passing TDs), RB Brandon Pendergrass (750 rushing yards, 4.6/carry, and 8 rushing TDs), and WRs Chris Givens (1276 receiving yards, 17.2/catch, and 9 receiving TDs) and Michael Campanaro (705 receiving TDs, 11.2/catch, and 2 receiving TDs) have led the resurgent Demon Deacons. Between 2002-2007, Wake finished last in recruiting in the ACC every year but one. Since 2008, Wake has ranked 10th (2008), 11th (2009), 11th (2010), and 10th (2011) in the ACC. Wake has improved in recruiting compared to their conference counterparts, but barely. The schedule gets a bit tougher next year, with games at Notre Dame and home to Vanderbilt; they also play Army and Liberty. The Demon Deacons have winnable road games against Maryland, North Carolina State, and Virginia; games against Boston College, Duke, and North Carolina are winnable. Wake had a surprisingly good season this year; don’t expect them to match their six wins in 2012.

Wins: NC State* (34-27); Gardner-Webb (48-5); @ Boston College* (27-19); #23 Florida State* (35-30); @ Duke* (24-23); Maryland* (31-10).

Losses: @ Syracuse (29-36 OT); #19 Virginia Tech* (17-38); @ North Carolina* (24-49); Notre Dame (17-24); @ #9 Clemson* (28-31); Vanderbilt (7-41).

Current Grade: B-.

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