Our second preview for the 2018 season. The Atlantic Coast Conference has been dominated by Clemson for years, and that doesn’t look like it is going to change this year. However, the ACC is an interesting conference because other than Clemson (and maybe Miami), it is wide open. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at these teams and their schedules, and I made a case for almost every team that they could win 6 or 7+ games. The middle of the pack in this conference is going to be super competitive and will provide awesome entertainment this Fall. Here we go.
Photo Credit: https://www.diehards.com/clemson/clemsons-death-valley-ruled-best-place-watch-college-football
Since 2009 the ACC Atlantic has been won by either Clemson (5 times) or Florida State (4 times), including 3 straight by the Tigers. I am going to go out on a limb here and say Clemson will win this side of the conference again, I know, crazy.
Clemson is the class of this conference. They bring back 8 starters on defense, including 4 defensive lineman who were picked to the Preseason All ACC first team, which is just absurd. They bring back their top 3 Running Backs from a year ago and 7 of their top 9 Wideouts. There is one looming question for the Tigers, who will be QB? They return Kelly Bryant who lead them to the CFP Semifinals a year ago, and brought in Blue-chip prospect Trevor Lawrence who has been making noise. Dabo and the coaching staff have a good problem to have, an abundance of talent at QB. We will see how that race shakes out during camp. This team is poised to make another run at the National Title and anything short of an ACC Championship is failure.
Florida State is coming off their worst season in 9 years. They parted ways with Jimbo Fisher and brought in Willie Taggart. Of all the teams in this conference, Florida State was the toughest for me to breakdown. I had them at 10-2 and I have also had them at 7-5. FSU was devastated with injuries last year, and finished on a high note winning 5 of their last 6 games. Like Clemson, FSU has a QB battle on its hands between Francois and Blackman. I am very interested to see how this team looks, we will get an early indicator week 1 vs Virginia Tech.
Boston College is my sleeper team this year in the ACC. They’ve got a lot of ” Dudes” coming back, and are going to be very dangerous on offense this Fall. Last year BC’s top QB, RB and WR were all freshmen; so there is a lot of room for growth for this offense in 2018. Not only that, but BC brings back all 5 starting offensive lineman as well as one of the nation’s best TE’s Tommy Sweeney (shout out to the Tight End position). The team brings back a lot of talent on the defense and if healthy, this is a team, whose style of ground and pound football, you will not want to play. If healthy, I believe BC can be the second best team in the Atlantic division and win 8 games.
NC State will be a fun team to watch for the sole reason of top pro QB prospect Ryan Finley. You could make the argument that this team will take a step back after losing 7 players to the NFL draft. Finley loses some weapons and will have a lot of pressure on him to carry the team this year. We will know early the type of team this is when they play West Virginia at home in week 3. That game will have a lot of buzz surrounding it because of the QB matchup. I believe NC State will be decent and competitive and will win 7 or 8 games again, not enough to get them over the hump.
Louisville is coming into the season losing the best player in program history, but don’t sleep on the Cardinals. Sophomore QB Jawon Pass will have an abundance of talent outside with the top 3 receivers from last year returning. Louisville brings back 4 starters on the O-line with a combined 77 starts, there will be experience surrounding the young QB. He doesn’t need to do it all like Lamar, and Bobby Petrino won’t set him up for failure. Petrino is 21-11 in ACC play and has yet to have a losing record in conference. Sure, the star power is gone, but the Cardinals should be ok and win 7 games and make a bowl. Hopefully they come out of the Alabama opener unscathed injury wise.
Wake Forest has a lot of holes to replace on both sides of the ball and Dave Clawson will have some serious coaching to do if he wants to replicate last season. Yes, Wake brings back their entire O-line and leading rusher, but other than that there are questions everywhere else, especially on the defense. I expect a regression for the Deacs and a 6-6 season.
Syracuse good luck to ya. Hopefully you get a full season out of Eric Dungey, and perhaps can pull off an upset here or there at the Carrier Dome. I see the Orange only winning 3 or 4 games and after 9/22 versus UConn, any victory will be an upset.
Picks & Predictions:
Clemson to win the ACC.
Boston College OVER 6 wins.