The ACC media poll was released yesterday, and it was a mostly unsurprising affair.
Since the divisional split in 2005, the ACC media has had two darlings predicted to finish tops in the Atlantic Division every single year: Clemson and Florida State. Florida State has been pegged by the media to finish first in the Atlantic Division every year except two (2013 and 2008); Clemson has been predicted as first or second-best seven of nine seasons. That’s not really going out on a limb, guys.
So when the media picked Clemson as finishing first and Florida State as second, if you were waiting for some kind of surprise this year, you’d have been severely disappointed.
Where did they peg the Terps? Fifth, right behind Clemson, Florida State, NC State, and Wake Forest.
This, again, shouldn’t shock anyone. The Terps, along with Duke, are the only programs in the ACC that have never — not even once — received a first place vote in these polls since the divisional split. They get snubbed every single year; over the past nine years, the media has never ranked Maryland higher than fourth. In every other instance, it breaks down as six fifth-place finishes, and two sixth-place finishes. Needless to say, the Terps don’t illicit much confidence in the media’s eyes.
Here are their finishes over the past eight seasons:
2005 – 5th
2006 – 3rd
2007 – 5th
2008 – 3rd
2009 – 6th
2010 – 2nd
2011 – 6th
2012 – 5th
As you can see, the Terps have really only proven the media wrong three times over the years, so it’s almost understandable that they’d rank us so lowly. And after the last two season’s where the Terrapins failed to make their proper sacrifices to the football God in the sky and the matriculation of key defensive players, it might make sense that the media isn’t about to endorse your boys.
But my gripe is with NC State and Wake Forest being ranked ahead of the Terps. Sure, both teams finished ahead of Maryland last sesaon (Wake Forest at 3-5 in the conference and NC State at 4-4), but this season’s iterations of their teams aren’t expected to be as good as last year. Maryland, on the other hand, really can’t get any worse and is fully expected to turn it around this year.
For one, Maryland beat Wake Forest head-to-head last year despite starting a true freshman quarterback and getting only 53 yards rushing total. This year’s Wake Forest team has major questions with the offensive line (injuries and lack of depth) and a new offensive, run-based system that their quarterback may not even be suited to handle. Their defense is sound, but I’m not sure that will be enough to overcome that horrendous offense.
As for NC State, they have some pretty glaring holes that are hard to ignore. An entirely new coach (one in which I’m actually particularly high on) in Dave Doeren who has a drastically different offensive scheme usually suggests there will be some struggles early on. Those are typically compounded by the fact that none of the quarterbacks on their roster actually fit the system Doeren is trying to install.
Don’t get me wrong: NC State is plenty talented on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. I just think that there are going to be some inherent struggles if that quarterback play can’t get off the ground right away. I have them pegged at six games, which is right around where I have the Terps. It’ll be close, I just think Maryland should eclipse their win total, especially after nearly beating them last year if it weren’t for that darn field goal.
So do I think it’s fair to put Maryland at fifth in the ACC? No, but it’s understandable I guess. It isn’t going to get any easier to get recognition in the Big Ten preseason polls if they don’t come up big this season. The only way to prove doubters wrong in the final year of ACC play is to win and win big.
What do you think?