Jun 6, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — “I give them a shot at winning all 12 games this year,” and, “It might be (Tom) O’Brien’s best team,” are how one of the nation’s most reputable college football prognosticators, Phil Steele, handicapped the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State, respectively, while joining Mark and Mike on 620 The Buzz Wednesday morning.
Steele, who has been one of the most accurate forecasters nationally for a decade and a half, has UNC listed as the No. 13 team in the nation – one spot ahead of Clemson – in his annual Top-40 Countdown. He said that the return or Bryn Renner at quarterback and Gio Bernard at tailback will only help a now-stable coaching staff.
“When a new head coach comes in, he has to learn players strengths, players have to learn schemes on offense and defense, generally there is a learning curve,” Steele explained. “However, last year they had an interim head coach. If you look at the situation North Carolina is in coaching-wise, they are in a better situation than they were last year.”
Steele said that there is a chance that UNC could be a favorite in every game they play this year, but a big part of that is because of the teams they don’t play.They will be unable to participate in any post-season, including the ACC championship, as part of NCAA sanctions and will also avoid the top two teams in the ACC during the regular season.
“I think if they were able to play in the ACC title game, I might have them ranked a little bit lower because I’m really high on Florida State,” Steele said. “I think that the fact that they don’t have to play Florida State or Clemson, that gives them a shot at less losses on the year.”
NC State, who did not crack Steele’s Top-40, is projected to be an underdog in as many as five games, according to a series of Steele’s simulations. They have a predominantly veteran team but will have to play games against the likes of Florida State and Clemson.
“They have the possibility (to crack 7-9 wins), but the schedule is a little bit difficult,” Steele explained. “At least they have stability and no questions at quarterback. Defensively, look for improvement. They do have six starters returning.”
NC State has gone through spring drills with a rotation at running back and their largest questions at linebacker. Positively, their top-tier secondary has been pushing a veteran, and very capable, quarterback in Mike Glennon.
When it comes to Duke, Steele would not commit to a bowl bid next season, but did say that there were a few simulations that had the Blue Devils making a post-season game.
“I almost pulled the trigger on that,” Stele said. “I like the job that coach (David) Cuttcliffe is doing, they have 17 returning starters… but when you look at the schedule, give them a 5-1 start and it might come down to the last game against Miami.”
Steele has said that this season, the ACC is in line for a national champion. He said that the best team overall may be in the SEC, the difficulty of their schedule this season could pave the way for Florida State to stand alone when all things are said and done.
Outside of the ACC, Steele said that ECU is in-line to be one of the top-10 most improved teams and gives them a legitimate shot at returning to a bowl after a down year last season.
“I believe they will (get to a bowl game),” Steele said. “I believe this is by far Ruffin McNeill’s best defense. The quarterback will have success in this offense and he has weapons around him.”
In other words, Steele's rankings have nothing to do with how good or bad a team will be, but rather how many wins and losses they end up with.- Posted by TruthBKnown Left The Building
That's what I gathered from this article. Carolina could go 12-0 because of who they DON'T play (the likes of FSU and Clemson). They have a weak schedule, therefore they deserve to be ranked 13th in the nation?
One day, they will have polls that don't just rank teams for having a good record, but actually measure how good they are. A good team with one loss should not be ranked lower than a bad team with no losses because of a weak schedule.
But hey, this is what we expect (Carolina to be overrated). We get to look forward to watching them, once again, fail to live up to expectations. That's always fun. If they were ranked where they belong (somewhere outside the top-25), it wouldn't be as fun when they falter.
And he has State outside of the top-40 because we play a tougher schedule and are more likely to absorb losses, yet this should be one of TOB's best teams at State. Call me crazy (I know some will!), but shouldn't polls put teams more where they belong and then let them drop if they deserve to during the season?