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The ACC blog's best and worst decisions of 2014

Like every season, 2014 was full of picks and predictions. We at the ACC blog patted ourselves on the back a few times when went got it right. But there were some face-palm moments when we were very, very wrong, too -- like that time we placed Georgia Tech 10th in the preseason ACC Power Rankings. Yeah, we were way off.

Check out a few more times we were right, and wrong, this past year.

Best Prediction

I predicted Florida State would make the College Football Playoff but would not win another national championship. In retrospect, it does not look like I went out on a terribly strong limb there, although many of my ESPN colleagues predicted a repeat for the Seminoles. I did not anticipate the way the season would play out for the Seminoles -- with one close win after another -- but it was most certainly a fun ride.

Honorable mention: Predicting Clemson would still win 10 games after dropping to 1-2; Picking Miami to finish fifth in the Coastal. -- Andrea Adelson

Asking the guy who finished dead last in ACC predictions to pick out his best prediction is no easy task. But if we're talking about the calendar year, well, I'm going to go way back to June 24, when I wrote that much of the preseason hype surrounding North Carolina was premature. Now, I didn't foresee the Tar Heels having one of the worst defenses in ACC history, but I did sense that the preseason magazine and early Vegas hype was a bit too much for such a young, unproven team. Sure enough, UNC finished 6-7, losing its final two games by a combined score of 75-28. And, just to pat myself on the back even more, I'll also include that I was the only one among us who was prescient enough to somehow see that this team would beat rival Duke on Nov. 20. Don't ask. -- Matt Fortuna

Before the season started, I put together a list of 10 “bold” predictions for the upcoming ACC season. They were supposed to be a stretch -- nothing too easy, but still realistic. To say the least, those predictions didn’t hold up too well this season, but one of them was on the money.

“[Tyler] Murphy and [Jacoby] Brissett post better stats this season than Jeff Driskel, the man who kept them both on the bench [at Florida]” was the prediction, and we didn’t even need to finish the season before it was settled. While Driskel struggled before being benched, Murphy topped 1,000 yards on the ground and led BC back to a bowl game and Brissett accounted for 26 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards while helping NC State add five wins to its total from 2013. -- David Hale

There aren't many good predictions to choose from, especially after I choked during the final weeks of November and lost my season-long lead in the picks standings. But I guess I'll go with Virginia over Louisville in Week 3. Louisville fans were relentless in the lead up to the Virginia game after I picked the Cavs to pull off the upset and limit the Cardinals to fewer than 20 points. Louisville was 2-0, had throttled Miami in the opener and had scored 66 the week prior. However, the Cardinals were not protecting their quarterbacks and UVa was constantly harassing them through the first two weeks, so I felt the Virginia defense would rise to the occasion. Luckily, they did. -- Jared Shanker

Worst Prediction

Do I only get one? Because there were some really, really bad ones. I'm trying to figure out whether it was worse to predict that Syracuse could win "seven or eight games," that Pitt could win nine or that Georgia Tech would finish sixth and barely make a bowl game. I could sit here and make excuses why -- if Syracuse had kept a starting quarterback healthy, if Pitt kept up the momentum from its 4-0 start -- but really I have no excuse for the Georgia Tech pick. This is a team that ALWAYS is involved in the Coastal race. Shame on me! -- Andrea Adelson

After I picked Georgia Tech to finish sixth in preseason, Paul Johnson got the last laugh in 2014, as Georgia Tech routed Mississippi State in the Capital One Orange Bowl to finish 11-3. It's amazing to think that this team was an ill-timed fumble away from losing at home to Georgia Southern in Week 3, but in some ways that's what made the Yellow Jackets so tough to play against. They would take advantage of turnovers time and time again, forcing offenses to press and perplexing defenses with the triple-option. Unsung quarterback Justin Thomas' confidence grew with each passing week, a new running back seemed to emerge every game and Georgia Tech scored big late-season wins over Clemson and Georgia. No one should sleep on this squad anymore. -- Matt Fortuna

This could be a long list, from doubting Georgia Tech to loving Virginia Tech or perhaps the five straight weeks I argued with Andrea Adelson that Miami was being vastly undervalued. But perhaps the one prediction I got totally wrong from the preseason was about the Hurricanes’ passing game. I said Stacy Coley would blossom into a star, but he’d end up catching TDs from three different QBs. Turned out, Coley didn’t catch a touchdown all year, as the sophomore regressed badly from a standout freshman campaign. Meanwhile, that QB controversy I predicted seemed laughable by mid-September. Brad Kaaya is clearly a rising star, and he held his own all season after being thrown to the wolves as a true freshman on the road in Miami’s opener. In fact, Kaaya led the ACC in touchdown passes, yards per attempt and passer rating. I’ll know better than to doubt him in the future. -- David Hale

I thought Miami turned the corner even after the Florida State loss. The Canes were 6-4 at that point and had a true freshman quarterback they could rally around. Instead, the team fell apart and the calls for Al Golden's job returned. It was an embarrassing display to close out the season, and the four-game slide to end 2014 turned up the temperature on Golden's seat. The ACC media picked Miami to win the Coastal -- a pick I did not agree with -- but I still thought the Canes could get to eight wins, especially after what I saw in person Nov. 15. Instead, I'm selling on Miami until it wins a game that matters. -- Jared Shanker