ACC Pivot Points: Clemson's title shot

Dabo Swinney and the Tigers will need improvement from their secondary to contend for a BCS title. AP Photo/Gerry Broome

The ACC is the last stop in our Pivot Points series, in which we dissect cause-and-effect scenarios to identify the swing factors for each of the "power five" conferences.

Up for discussion: sore spots for the two teams I think will play for the ACC title; the coaching futures of Frank Beamer and Jimbo Fisher; and an off-the-radar team to watch. (Spoiler: ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt will approve.)

Here's a look at five potential scenarios that could shape the ACC this season:

1. If Clemson’s secondary can hold together (particularly against Georgia in Week 1), the Tigers will be national title contenders.

The Tigers signed eight defensive backs in the 2013 class, but injuries to a couple of players in that group who were projected to get time have pushed back the progress of the unit. The linebackers could be outstanding and the line is above average, but the secondary is the biggest question mark on the entire team.

The coaching staff believes the pass rush will offset some potential issues with the back end, but that is a lot to put on the D-line. Ultimately, there will be one-on-one situations, and at some point, the secondary will be put to the test -- and potentially early in the season.