Ten things to watch for in the ACC

Originally Published: August 27, 2003
By Gregg Doyel | Special to ESPN.com

Vision is a good thing for a running back, and a great thing for a sports writer. Check out this vision, as we here at ESPN.com examine the 10 things we can't wait to see from the ACC this football season:

1. Rivers coursing through the record books
If he stays healthy, NC State quarterback Philip Rivers will break almost every passing record in the ACC, leaping past the likes of Chris Weinke, Ben Bennett and Scott Milanovich. And you Scott Milanovich fans, you know who you are.

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  • 2. Duke winning an ACC game
    The Blue Devils are slogging along on a 25-game conference losing streak, a record nobody should have to own, but that streak will end this season -- although probably not Saturday at Virginia. We said we have vision, not delirium.

    3. Respect for ACC football
    This is no longer a basketball conference with one football giant and eight dwarves. This is no longer a basketball conference, period. The ACC is all about football, even before the additions of Miami and Virginia Tech next season, and it's about time the rest of the country recognized that. Maybe having three or four teams at various times in the top 10 would do the trick.

    4. A Bowden purge
    This falls under the category of things we won't be surprised to see -- not necessarily things we truly want to see. Still, the simple truth is Clemson coach Tommy Bowden needs a big season to guarantee his job, and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden needs the same to justify staying around -- although that choice will be his, you can bet on it. This isn't an easy season for either team, especially Clemson, to feel great about its odds of having a big season.

    5. Chris Rix brawling with a teammate
    Is Bobby Bowden right, is junior quarterback Chris Rix truly ready to lead the Seminoles -- and are the Seminoles ready to follow? Or will the personal squabbling that set in last year finally come to a head this season?

    6. Greg Jones be a star
    We don't wish ill will on the Seminoles, and this proves it. For all the talk about Rivers and Virginia quarterback Matt Schaub being Heisman candidates, we fully expect FSU tailback Greg Jones to be in the mix if he can stay healthy.

    7. Wali Lundy goes for 100
    Without last season's top two receivers, Billy McMullen (graduated) and Michael McGrew (injured), Schaub will look even more often for sophomore Cavaliers tailback Wali Lundy as a receiving outlet. It's not a bad choice; last season Lundy caught 58 passes.

    8. Justin Miller in the open field
    As a freshman, Clemson cornerback Justin Miller picked off eight passes and averaged 35.1 yards on 13 kickoff returns. Get this man the ball in the open field, and watch him create some magic.

    9. Dexter Reid goes for 200
    Last season's ACC leader in tackles per game at 13.8 for a total of 166, North Carolina safety Dexter Reid will be in for some heavy lifting again this season thanks to inexperience in the UNC front seven. If he gets 200 tackles, that would be a very cool thing -- and for the Tar Heels, a very bad thing.

    10. Jim Grobe win coach of the year
    He's got stiff competition every year from the likes of Maryland's Ralph Friedgen, Virginia's Al Groh and NC State's Chuck Amato, but Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe is as good as anyone we've ever seen. Why does a man have to win 10 or more games to be considered for such an honor? Winning seven at Wake Forest is just as tough.

    Gregg Doyel covers the ACC for the Charlotte Observer.

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