Everyone enters the 2013 ACC season with high hopes. But high hopes and realistic expectations are sometimes at odds.
Here's a subjective look at the various trajectories of the ACC's new 14-team lineup.
1. Clemson: The Tigers are hot, led by the returning ACC player of the year directing an offense that has been tough for conference defenses to stop. Clemson enters the season ranked eighth in the coaches' poll, is the preseason media pick to win the league, and is one national pundit's choice to play Alabama for the national title next January.
2. Florida State: As long as Jimbo Fisher keeps the recruits rolling into Tallahassee, there's no reason why the Seminoles shouldn't be a top-10 team. The big question: why is this program not as good as Alabama's?
3. Miami: Al Golden inherited a mess in Coral Gables, and he's made the best of it so far. The Hurricanes look like the best team in the Coastal Division headed into the season.
4. Syracuse: The newcomers trended upward under Doug Marrone, who's now figuring out how to get the ball to C.J. Spiller as new head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Until proven otherwise, the Orangemen look like a team on the rise.
5. Duke: Maybe the Blue Devils peaked last season, but maybe not. David Cutcliffe is building his program the right way, without smoke, mirrors and gimmicks.
1. Virginia Tech: Perhaps the Hokies will bounce back, win the Coastal, and climb back into the top-10. But since Frank Beamer's third-ranked team was hammered by Clemson in the 2011 ACC championship game, the program trajectory has taken a downturn.
2. Wake Forest: After winning the ACC in 2006, the Deacons followed up with 9-4 and 8-5 seasons. They've not had a winning campaign since, and have gone 19-30 over the past four seasons.
3. Pittsburgh: It all depends on how you spin it. Yes, the Panthers have been to five straight bowl games. But back-to-back 6-7 seasons doesn't give them much momentum headed into their first year in the ACC.
4. Maryland: The lame duck Terps almost have to be better, and luckier, than they were last season. And while Randy Edsall has righted the ship, it's impossible to know where it's headed. Ralph Friedgen deserved another year.
5. Boston College: The Eagles' once-proud program went nowhere on Frank Spaziani's watch, and though change is in the air, BC fans are waiting for a reason to be excited.
1. North Carolina: Nothing against Larry Fedora, but Tar Heel fans embarrassed by scandal are in wait-and-see mode.
2. Georgia Tech: Like North Carolina, this is a decent program without a great deal of positive momentum. Paul Johnson's teams are a pain-in-the-butt to prepare for and play, but there's an ongoing history of inexplicable inconsistency.
3. N.C. State: The Wolfpack promise their fans much, but over the past decade have only occasionally delivered. Another program in wait-and-see mode.
4. Virginia: Ditto the Cavaliers. When your makeover gets a second-year makeover, it doesn't inspire confidence.