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One last shot at a countdown...

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Since the old "games I'm most looking forward to" countdown kind of sucked (no, it's true!) and quickly petered out a few weeks ago, and since it's only five days 'til the start of the our season, here's one last desperate stab at a countdown; Five Teams Whose Bandwagons I am Firmly Aboard for 2008.

DATE OPP
08/30 @ Baylor
09/06 Ole Miss
09/20 @ Florida State
09/27 Navy
10/09 Clemson
10/18 @ Maryland
10/25 @ Miami
11/01 Duke
11/08 Virginia
11/15 @ NC State
11/22 Boston College
11/29 Vanderbilt
In at #5 are the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Most have accepted the idea that the ACC is Clemson's for the taking, but I'm going to beg to differ on this one and throw my considerably popular and influential(!) bloggy weight behind Wake Forest. "But Todd, why Wake?," you might be asking yourself. To start with, they return nine starters to a defense that wasn't too shabby last season, finishing 27th nationally in total defense (15th against the run and 14 in pass. off. defense), and the only team that put a serious hurting on them last season, Clemson, they get at home this year. On offense, Skinner is one of the most accurate QBs in the country, leading the nation last year with a 72.4% completion rate. He'll be operating behind an iffy o-line that returns only two starters, and they'll have to find a new go to receiver with the departure of Kenneth Moore (ACC's leading receiver last year), but Josh Adams is a legit 1,000 yard back and the receiving corps at least has some unproven talent to work with.

The schedule also favors a run to the snoozefest known as the ACC Championship Game. Of the three teams they lost to aside from Clemson, Boston College (by a 28-38 margin) should regress some this year (they also get the Eagles at home), Nebraska (a 17-20 defeat) was replaced on the OOC schedule by Baylor, and Virginia (a 16-17 defeat) should also regress back to their typically lackluster level under Al Groh. Meanwhile they pretty easily handled the rest of their schedule aside from a 24-21 squeaker against Florida State and a 31-24 OT win over Maryland. The Seminoles should improve some this year, so a trip to Jacksonville in week three may be an early stumbling block, but Maryland is supposedly installing a west coast style offense this season and haven't been much of a threat to get far beyond .500 over the past few seasons, so a trip to College Park shouldn't be a terribly difficult road tilt. Of the conference slate, adding Miami to the rotation while North Carolina drops off the schedule could be a blessing. Da U is certainly on the rebound but not too terribly far into their upswing just yet while, depending on who you ask, North Carolina has a better than decent chance of taking the Coastal Division. If Wake can handle their OOC slate, which they should (only Ole Miss worries me, but they get them at home), and at least split the toss up games (Clemson, Florida State, Miami, and Maryland), they could easily be sitting with a 10-2 record at the end of the season with a shot at the ACC title depending on how well Clemson handles their pre-season hype, and considering this is Clemson we are talking about here, you know they are going to drop at least two games in completely boneheaded fashion (let's not forget, they made Va. Tech look like Hawaii last year and could only score 3 on Georgia Tech). If Wake can catch them with their pants down and exact some revenge while handling their own business the rest of the season, that would all but eliminate the Tigers from contention for the ACC and let Wake compete for its second title in three years. I personally think they are up to that challenge.

Besides, how can you resist Riley Skinner's winning smile and...uh...other beefcakey assets.