Time to get to one of the most fun entries of the year: The preseason game-by-game picks.
As a caveat: This isn't supposed to make a ton of sense. So don't be shocked if Team A is picked to beat Team B, which in turn is picked to beat Team C --- which is picked to beat Team A.
Or something like that.
There are some random projections in here, but going with pure chalk across the board is neither fun nor accurate.
It's a guess, and it will be revisited with each week's picks. Sometimes calling an upset makes a lot of sense in August; once November rolls around, it looks pretty ludicrous.
A swing game for each team is included, just as a way of measuring the exact way of thinking throughout this exercise. Teams are listed in projected order of finish:
Florida State (8-4, 6-2)
W: Samford, Brigham Young, Wake Forest, at Virginia, Boston College, North Carolina, Clemson, at Maryland
L: at Oklahoma, at Miami, at N.C. State, Florida
Swing: Boston College. The projected upset at N.C. State is more or less a tentative vote of no confidence for a defense stuck facing Russell Wilson on his own turf. Regardless of how much better that defense is, the Boston College game carries a little more of a coin-flip feel to it.
Boston College (8-4, 5-3)
W: Weber State, Kent State, at N.C. State, Maryland, at Wake Forest, at Duke, Virginia, at Syracuse
L: Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, at Florida State, Clemson
Swing: Notre Dame. The Eagles haven't lost in Chestnut Hill to the Irish since 1998, and if Notre Dame had hired just about anyone else to replace Charlie Weis, this would be projected as a Boston College win. The hunch is Kelly will get a couple impressive victories early, but it's just as possible the Eagles defend their home field in the first weekend of October.
Clemson (8-4, 5-3)
W: North Texas, Presbyterian, Miami, Maryland, at Boston College, N.C. State, at Wake Forest, South Carolina
L: at Auburn, at North Carolina, Georgia Tech, at Florida State
Swing: at North Carolina. It remains to be seen just what sort of shape the Tar Heels will be in for the opener, let alone who they have available to them in early October. Clemson could roll into that date on a two-game skid (the game with Miami is a week earlier) and in need of a win to avoid an 0-2 hole in the conference. Those two games will go a long way in determining what sort of season Clemson has.
N.C. State (6-6, 3-5)
W: Western Carolina, at Central Florida, at East Carolina, Florida State, at North Carolina, at Maryland
L: Cincinnati, at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Boston College, at Clemson, Wake Forest
Swing: Wake Forest. It's a bit of a crazy hunch the Demon Deacons muster together one good showing in the middle of league play. The most likely victim after the conference opener against Duke is N.C. State, which has dropped five of its last seven to Wake.
Maryland (5-7, 3-5)
W: Morgan State, Florida International, Duke, Wake Forest, at Virginia
L: vs. Navy, at West Virginia, at Clemson, at Boston College, at Miami, Florida State, N.C. State
Swing: N.C. State. Don't put it past the Terps and Wolfpack to be playing for bowl eligibility in a season finale for the third time in six seasons. N.C. State won in 2005, with Maryland earning a postseason trip in 2007. Oh, and it's the Yow Bowl, and that has a chance to be an interesting subplot by itself.
Wake Forest (5-7, 2-6)
W: Presbyterian, Duke, Navy, at N.C. State, at Vanderbilt
L: at Stanford, at Florida State, Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech, at Maryland, Boston College, Clemson
Swing: at Maryland. Wake will be coming off a bye week and be drawing a Terrapins outfit that just played at Clemson and Boston College in consecutive weeks. Could be an interesting combination
Virginia Tech (11-1, 7-1)
W: vs. Boise State, James Madison, East Carolina, at Boston College, at N.C. State, Central Michigan, Wake Forest, Duke, Georgia Tech, at North Carolina, Virginia
L: at Miami
Swing: vs. Boise State. No idea how this one will turn out. At the very least, it might be the most anticipated game of the season's opening week. How the Hokies are perceived the rest of the season could be determined by this game. Of ACC teams, only Maryland and perhaps North Carolina face that sort of pressure.
Georgia Tech (9-3, 6-2)
W: South Carolina State, at Kansas, N.C. State, at Wake Forest, Virginia, Middle Tennessee, at Clemson, Miami, Duke
L: at North Carolina, at Virginia Tech, at Georgia
Swing: at Clemson. There's a tasty Thursday night date with Virginia Tech 12 days later. But this rematch of last year's ACC title in Death Valley could quietly be one of the season's better games.
Miami (8-4, 5-3)
W: Florida A&M, at Pittsburgh, Florida State, at Duke, at Virginia, Maryland, Virginia Tech, South Florida
L: at Ohio State, at Clemson, North Carolina, at Georgia Tech
Swing: at Ohio State. If good Miami shows up, this could be a phenomenal showdown. If erratic Miami shows up, it will be viewed as evidence the Randy Shannon rebuilding project won't culminate until 2011 at the earliest. That might not be entirely fair, but it's not hard to envision that sort of reaction based on the outcome of the trip to Columbus.
North Carolina (6-6, 3-5)
W: Georgia Tech, at Rutgers, East Carolina, Clemson, at Miami, William and Mary
L: vs. Louisiana State, at Virginia, at Florida State, Virginia Tech, N.C. State, at Duke
Swing: Pick one. Who knows just how much the Tar Heels will lose from their still-to-be-determined eligibility issues. The possibility for stunning wins and shocking losses abound. Regardless of who is playing, here's sticking to the forecast of a loss at Virginia ... as usual. There's just no telling where this is going.
Duke (4-8, 2-6)
W: Elon, Army, Virginia, North Carolina
L: at Wake Forest, Alabama, at Miami, Miami, at Virginia Tech, at Navy, Boston College, at Georgia Tech
Swing: at Navy. The Blue Devils acquitted themselves well against the Midshipmen in 2008. Trouble is, the Thad Lewis-to-Eron Riley connection is gone. No matter. After back-to-back games against Miami and Virginia Tech, Duke will probably need to get well. Whether it happens or not is less certain.
Virginia (3-9, 1-7)
W: VMI, North Carolina, Eastern Michigan
L: Richmond, at Southern California, Florida State, at Georgia Tech, Miami, at Duke, Maryland, at Boston College, at Virginia Tech
Swing: Richmond. The Mike London era gets underway against his old school. Can the Cavaliers avoid losing to a CAA school again? Maybe. Put it this way: If the Spiders snatch a game in Charlottesville, no one should consider it a titanic upset.