College football returns this Saturday, and I am beyond excited for it. Here are my predictions for the ACC Atlantic Division for this upcoming season. Stay tuned, as in a few days, I’ll release my ACC Coastal Division predictions as well.
- Predicted Regular Season Record: 12-0 (8-0)
- Matchup to Look Out For: September 14 @Syracuse
- Key Losses: Clelin Ferrell (DE), Dexter Lawrence (DT), Christian Wilkins (DT), Trayvon Mullen (CB), Tre Lamar (LB), Hunter Renfrow (WR)
- X-Factor: Trevor Lawrence (QB)
- Overview: The Tigers lost a lot of experience on defense, but they are arguably the strongest offensive team in the nation. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne will challenge for the Heisman trophy, while Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins make up a dynamic receiving duo. Clemson will walk to the championship again.
- Predicted Regular Season Record: 10-2 (6-2)
- Matchup to Look Out For: September 14 vs. Clemson
- Key Losses: Eric Dungey (QB), Jamal Curtis (WR), Chris Slayton (DT), Cody Conway (OT), Koda Martin (OT), Ryan Guthrie (LB)
- X-Factor: Tommy DeVito (QB)
- Overview: The Orange won’t have star quarterback Eric Dungey this year, but that shouldn’t be a problem as Tommy DeVito has played well in his place before. With an explosive offensive team, an experienced defense, and a weak out of conference schedule, Syracuse should have a great year and maybe a New Year’s Six bowl bid.
3. Boston College
- Predicted Regular Season Record: 8-4 (5-3)
- Matchup to Look Out For: November 23 @Notre Dame
- Key Losses: Chris Lindstrom (OG), Zach Allen (DE), Will Harris (S), Lukas Denis (S), Hamp Cheevers (CB), Connor Strachan (LB)
- X-Factor: A.J. Dillon (RB)
- Overview: Although the Eagles lost a lot of key defensive players, still have their two best offensive weapons, quarterback Anthony Brown and Heisman hopeful running back AJ Dillon. BC could do better or worse than 8-4, depending on coach Steve Addazio’s willingness to adapt his stale game plans.
4. Florida State
- Predicted Regular Season Record: 7-5 (4-4)
- Matchup to Look Out For: November 2 vs. Miami
- Key Losses: Brian Burns (DE), Deondre Francois (QB), Alec Eberle (C), Nyqwan Murray (WR), Derrick Kelly (OT), AJ Westbrook (S)
- X-Factor: Cam Akers (RB)
- Overview: Coach Willie Taggart enters his second year in Tallahassee and looks to improve on his 5-7 record last year. That shouldn’t be too hard considering the Seminoles will be returning a talented secondary including corners Asante Samuel Jr., Stanford Samuels III, and safety Cyrus Fagan.
5. Wake Forest
- Predicted Regular Season Record: 6-6 (3-6)
- Matchup to Look Out For: August 30 vs. Utah State
- Key Losses: Greg Dortch (WR), Matt Colburn (RB), Alex Bachman (WR), Cameron Glenn (S), Willie Yarbary (DT), Chuck Wade (S)
- X-Factor: Sage Surratt (WR)
- Overview: The Demon Deacons have a good quarterback platoon of Jamie Newman and Sam Hartman, but they do not have much else. Two of their three leading receivers departed along with many of their best defensive pieces, who were part of a defense that let up over 40 points per game last year.
6. NC State
- Predicted Regular Season Record: 5-7 (2-6)
- Matchup to Look Out For: October 19 @Boston College
- Key Losses: Jakobi Meyers (WR), Ryan Finley (QB), Kelvin Harmon (WR), Garrett Bradbury (C), Tyler Jones (OT), Reggie Gallaspy Jr. (RB)
- X-Factor: Emeka Emezie (WR)
- Overview: The strength of last year’s Wolfpack team was their offense, but after returning only three offensive starters and losing their biggest playmakers, they will be a lot less dangerous. Without wide receivers like Jakobi Meyers and Kelvin Harmon or an experienced quarterback, expect this to be a rebuilding year.
- Predicted Regular Season Record: 2-10 (0-8)
- Matchup to Look Out For: October 12 @Wake Forest
- Key Losses: Jaylen Smith (WR), Dee Smith (S), Trey Smith (RB), Jeremy Smith (WR), London Iakopo (S), Mickey Crum (TE)
- X-Factor: Tabarious Peterson (OLB/DE)
- Overview: Louisville doesn’t have a lot of talent outside of tackle Mekhi Becton and edge rushers Tabarious Peterson and Amonte Caban. Quarterbacks Javon Pass and Malik Cunningham aren’t the worst, but the team overall just doesn’t have the players to compete and win many games.
What do you all think? Are there any teams that I’m overrating or underrating? Again, make sure you stay on the lookout for my ACC Coastal picks which are coming soon.