2017 ACC Preview

The ACC finished up 2016 as what was regarded as the best conference in all of FBS. Of course crowning it with a National Championship courtesy of Clemson, a Heisman thanks to Louisville, and a Contract Bowl win thanks to Florida State. This year some talent has been lost, but a lot returns. FSU, NC State, Duke, and Miami should all be improved with Louisville, VT and Pitt likely staying the same. Clemson and UNC lost 2 first round draft picks at QB and a few other draft picks. Both should still be only a step below last year. Clemson should still be a top 10-15 team and UNC a fringe top 25 team.

 

For each Conference we will have the Simplified Football predictions (record) with the Projected Win-Shares and rating of each team next to it. We will also have Bowl Projections for each conference.

 

ACC Predictions:

Atlantic

Team – Record (Conf)  /  Win-Shares (Conf)  /  Rating

  1. Florida State – 11-1 (8-0)  /  9.96 (6.85)  /  5.11
  2. Clemson – 10-2 (6-2)  /  8.82 (5.64)  /  4.59
  3. Louisville – 9-3 (5-3)  /  7.72 (4.42) /  4.25
  4. NC State – 8-4 (5-3)  /  6.88 (4.21)  /  4.22
  5. Syracuse – 5-7 (2-6)  /  5.15 (2.5)  /  3.60
  6. Boston College – 5-7 (2-6)  /  5.09 (2.85)  /  3.76
  7. Wake Forest – 3-9 (0-8) / 4.11 (1.86)  /  3.30

 

Coastal

Team – Record (Conf)  /  Win-Shares (Conf)  /  Rating

  1. Miami – 9-3 (5-3)  /  8.48 (5.08)  /  4.47
  2. Virginia Tech – 8-4 (5-3)  /  7.58 (4.43)  /  4.26
  3. Pittsburgh – 7-5 (5-3)  /  6.84 (4.26)  /  4.08
  4. UNC – 8-4 (4-4)  /  7.56 (4.39)  /  4.25
  5. Duke – 7-5 (4-4)  /  6.18 (3.3)  /  3.95
  6. Georgia Tech – 5-7 (3-5)  /  4.78 (2.98)  /  3.81
  7. Virginia – 4-8 (2-6)  /  5.91 (3.23)  /  3.66

 

Florida State wins the Atlantic Division outright, going undefeated in conference play. Coastal has a 3 way tie, Miami wins the tie-breaker setting up an FSU v Miami rematch in the championship game (you know what the ACC higher-ups have wanted for a decade).

 

Championship game – FSU wins the rematch over Miami and makes the Playoff with their only loss being to Alabama. FSU, Clemson, Miami, Louisville, VT, and NC State all finish top 25 teams.

 

 

That makes 9 bowl teams for the ACC

Rose Bowl – FSU (Playoff)

Orange Bowl – Clemson

Camping World Bowl – Miami

Belk Bowl – UNC

PinStripe Bowl – Louisville

Sun Bowl – NC State

Military Bowl – Duke

Camping World Independence – Pittsburgh

Music City – Virginia Tech

ACC Preview and Predictions

For each of the conference Predictions I will put in both the Predicted Finish according to Win-Shares, as well as my own personal predictions (which are largely very similar).

 

ACC Win-Shares

Atlantic

FSU – 9.51 (6.3)

Clemson – 8.77 (5.63)

Louisville – 6.92 (4.18)

NC State – 6.48 (3.63)

Boston College – 6.24 (2.98)

Wake Forest – 6.02 (2.78)

Syracuse – 4.49 (2.31)

 

Coastal

Miami – 8.4 (5.18)

North Carolina – 7.45 (4.46)

Virginia Tech – 6.42 (4.11)

Pitt – 6.78 (3.98)

Virginia – 6.24 (3.59)

Duke – 6.01 (3.57)

Georgia Tech – 5.77 (3.3)

 

FSU over Miami in the ACC championship.

 

FSU and Clemson both round to 6, which would mean that the Atlantic Division winner will come down to the FSU v Clemson winner (pretty obvious). Also shows FSU and Clemson as the best 2 teams in the ACC. Also pretty obvious. It also shows over years past that Duke continues to improve, and that Boston College should have a good bounce back year (after winning only 1 game that shouldn’t be very hard).

 

Simplified Football Predictions

Atlantic

FSU – 11-1 (7-1)

Clemson – 11-1 (7-1)

Louisville – 8-4 (5-3)

NC State – 6-6 (3-5)

Boston College – 5-7 (3-5)

Wake Forest – 5-7 (2-6)

Syracuse – 3-9 (1-7)

 

Coastal

UNC – 9-3 (6-2)

Miami – 8-4 (5-3)

Duke – 7-5 (5-3)

Pitt – 7-5 (4-4)

GT – 7-5 (4-4)

VT – 5-7 (3-5)

UVA – 5-7 (2-6)

 

FSU over UNC in the ACC Champ

 

SF has UNC finishing ahead of Miami and Duke finishing above what is expected. Atlantic remains the same.  I expect a largely better year for the ACC as FSU and Clemson will be top 10 teams. Louisville, UNC, and Miami should all challenge for or be top 25 teams. Pitt, Duke and GT will likely be teams that receive votes and at some point in the year will be ranked, but not finish there.

 

That is 9 bowl teams for the ACC

Fiesta Bowl – FSU (Playoff)

Orange Bowl – Clemson

Russell Athletic Bowl – UNC

Belk Bowl – Louisville

PinStripe Bowl – Miami

Sun Bowl – Pittsburgh

Tax Slayer Bowl – GT

Camping World – Duke

Quick Lane Bowl – NC State

Week 8 Match Ups

4-2 again last week. On the season 21-15. Think this is a tricky week.

  1. Cal 34 – UCLA 31
  2. Clemson 28- Miami 24
  3. Oklahoma 42 – Texas Tech 28
  4. Ole Miss 38 – Texas A&M 34
  5. USC 35 – Utah 31

Week 7 Match Ups

Last week went 4-2, brings total on season to 17-13.

Had 6 games picked for the week, but wasn’t able to publish picks yesterday, so I will leave off the Stanford over UCLA pick as it’s a day late, and add the FSU v Louisville Game.

  1. Northwestern 17 – Iowa 14
  2. Michigan 24 – Michigan St 17
  3. Alabama 31 – Texas A&M 28
  4. LSU 24 – UF 17
  5. Notre Dame 38 – USC 28
  6. FSU 28 – Louisville 17

Week 6 Top Match-Ups

2 Weeks ago I was 3-3 which brings me to 13-11 on the season.

This weeks games:

  1. Clemson 24 – Georgia Tech 17: In a defensive battle Clemson is able to run the ball against GT and come out on top in this rivalry game.
  2. Michigan 17 – Northwestern 10: In a game that pits 2 of the better defensive teams, both with little offense, expect a very low scoring game. Michigan continues to impress in this game and comes up victorious.
  3. West Virginia 30 – Oklahoma St 28: In what will be the biggest defensive battle in the Big 12 this year, WVU is able to a tenacious OK St pass rush to win.
  4. Florida 24 – Missouri 17: Florida continues their assent to the top of the SEC East and is able to get a little more offense than Missouri in this game.
  5. Florida State 31 – Miami 21: Florida State is able to control the line of scrimmage and keeps the ball on the ground against Miami. The key will be turnovers. FSU has less turnovers than Miami.
  6. California 28 – Utah 24: Cal upsets Utah on the road, as Utah struggles to stop the Cal passing attack.

Week 2 Top Match-Ups

Last week was a very good start to the season getting all 6 games correct. This week there is only 5 match-ups, and one of them is a stretch to include in this. But there are 3 match-ups including Ranked teams, and 1 match-up of Group of 5 teams that could end up impacting the Playoff race.

 

Notre Dame @ Virginia

  • Notre Dame looked mighty impressive last week dismantling the Texas Longhorns. Virginia looked the opposite against UCLA. I included this game as I think there is a mild chance of an upset here with Virginia likely having a bounce-back game and looking better against Notre Dame than they did against UCLA. However in the end Notre Dame is just much more talented than UVA, and should pull away at the end. I do think Virginia’s defense will have some success against Notre Dame with Folston out for the year.
  • Notre Dame 28 – Virginia 14

Oklahoma @ Tennessee

  • I am a lot more bullish on Tennessee than most, and not sold on Oklahoma. Tennessee is more talented and is playing at home. A win here should solidify them as a top 25 team and people will start to talk about them in SEC East Championship circles. I don’t think this will be quite as high Scoring as many do. I think Tennessee out lasts Oklahoma and blasts Rocky Top all around campus all night long.
  • Tennessee 31 – Oklahoma 24

Oregon @ Michigan State

  • This is the biggest game of the day and the one with the most playoff implications on the line. A loss for either team could see them on the outside looking in, but won’t knock either from contention. Oregon is more talented overall, but Michigan State has quite a bit of talent. Both offenses looked very stellar and this should be a different looking game than last years. The score in this game could potentially get out of hand pretty quickly and perhaps approach 100. Although I think both offenses will be slow to start before gaining traction. Look for a very exciting 2nd half. In the end I think Oregon is just too much for Michigan St.
  • Oregon 42 – Michigan St 38

LSU @ Mississippi State

  • First SEC West match-up of the year. I do not think this one will disappoint. I am very high on LSU this year, and not so much for Mississippi State. However looking at the match-up I think Mississippi State matches up well with LSU and with it being at home (MORE COW BELLS??!!) I think Mississippi St could pull the upset. I think MSU’s front 7 on defense will be able to slow down Fournette and the LSU ground attack, which should severely limit what they do on Offense. In close games I like to go with the better QB. Miss St has the decided advantage in that category.
  • Mississippi St 24 – LSU 21

Boise St  @ BYU

  • Most when they see those 2 names would think you are going to get a lot of offense. However with Boise St having the #1 Defense (S&P) in the nation and BYU without QB Taysom Hill, and with Boise St’s offense looking pretty inept against Washington, I think this is going to be a low scoring affair.  This is a very even match-up with both teams having equal talent (slight advantage to Boise St). Both lines are matched up very evenly. I’m going with Boise St in a nail-biter, luck goes away from the Cougars this time as they fail to convert another Hail Mary (and luck stays with Boise St as they squeak out another win).
  • Boise St 21 – BYU 20

Week 1 Top Match-ups

Last year I finished the season 46-23 on my predictions, that is 67% correct. I will look to improve on that this year. This week there is only 1 match-up between ranked teams, however there are several others that are good match-ups and could figure into the Playoff picture (and several more that do not make the top 6).

 

  1. Washington at Boise St
    • This figures to be one of Boise States most talented teams ever, on the other side Washington has lost a lot of talent over the last few years. Coach Peterson has his work cut out for him there. Despite being a Group of 5 school Boise State is actually the more talented team. Add that to Boise State being at home and I am going with Boise State in this game.
    • Boise State 32 – Washington 24
  2. Louisville vs Auburn
    • Many expect Auburn to have a very explosive offense this season, despite many of their best on offense being gone. They certainly have the talent to reload and not rebuild. Louisville is rebuilding in Coach Petrino’s image and it will be a project. However they do have some talent (some transferred in) on defense and at least in the first half should be able to slow down Auburn’s attack. Auburn’s defense which has been atrocious in the last few years, has one of the top Defensive Coordinators now, and has recruited very well on that side of the ball.  Louisville does not have many play-makers on offense. Auburn will likely give up a few plays on mistakes and I like this game to be close through the first half. Auburn pulls away in the 4th though.
    • Auburn 34 – Louisville 21
  3. Arizona St at Texas A&M
    • Arizona State is a trendy pick to win the Pac 12 and be a playoff team to some experts. I don’t see it. I have them finishing 4th in the Pac 12 South (behind USC, UCLA, and Arizona). Texas A&M I feel could challenge in the SEC if they continue to improve on defense.  Arizona State was torched at times on defense last year, I see that happening again this year and in this game. Expecting a pretty high scoring game in this one. As both offenses out match the defenses. But with the 12th man behind them I have Texas A&M shocking Arizona State.
    • Texas A&M 45 – Arizona State 35
  4. Texas at Notre Dame
    • This Notre Dame team will surprise a lot of people. They are as talented as the squad that took them to the National Championship game a few years ago. Texas is still in the rebuilding process, but they do have a defense that was pretty good last year and should improve even more this year. The difference in this game however will be Texas’ lack of a QB/offense. After this game Notre Dame fans will be clamoring for Everett Golson at QB as Zaire will likely struggle some against a good Texas defense. However being at home, with more weapons and a better QB and more talent gives Notre Dame the advantage still.
    • Notre Dame 28 – Texas 21
  5. Wisconsin vs Alabama
    • Alabama looks as though they are going to have another juggernaut defense and a power running game, however their QB situation is very unsettled and has lots of question marks. Wisconsin is breaking in a new coach, in previous years it has taken them at least half of the season to start to gel and work together with new coaches, although they adjust pretty quickly. The biggest problem in this game is the match-up for Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s strength (it’s power running game) is exactly what Alabama excels at stopping. I don’t expect Wisconsin to have much room to run in this game and relying on Joel Stave to move the ball against Alabama is not a recipe for success. However Alabama’s offense will keep Wisconsin in the game. Look for a lot of running and a low scoring affair.
    • Alabama 28 – Wisconsin 17
  6. Ohio State at Virginia Tech
    • The game Buckeye fans and players alike have been waiting for all summer. REVENGE. Virginia Tech looked like they had derailed Ohio State’s plans at a National Championship run last year, obviously that proved to not be true as they ran the table and won the National Championship. However i’m sure it still stings in Columbus that Tech upset them at home last year. This year they have to travel to Blacksburg to face what is potentially one of the best defenses in the nation. They have a very solid front 7 that uses a lot of blitz packages to keep offenses on their heels, and perhaps the best Cornerback combo in the nation. Many expect Ohio State to run it all over Virginia Tech. We do not think that will happen, especially with some key WR’s out for Ohio State.  On the other side of the ball is where Virginia Tech has been lacking recently, and this year should be no better. They have not been able to find any consistency on offense in several years. The one thing that will be to their advantage is Ohio State is without perhaps the best defensive player in the nation in Joey Bosa for this game. In the end I expect Ohio State to pull this game out as I just don’t think Virginia Tech will be able to put enough points on the board.
    • Ohio State 24 – Virginia Tech 17

2015 ACC Preview

Welcome to a new season of College Football! I can smell the Barbecue in the air, hear the fight songs, and picture the bone-crushing hits already. This is the 3rd season of Simplified Football covering College Football and giving you detailed predictions for each week’s best games, and giving you previews of each conference. We’ll start with the Atlantic Coast Conference this year.

 

Last Season:

Florida State won its third straight ACC Championship and went on to lose in the first round of the first ever Playoffs to Oregon. They are 27-1 over the last 2 seasons. Georgia Tech won the coastal and was the ACC’s representative in the Orange Bowl. The ACC put 11 teams into a bowl game (out of 14 teams), with only Virginia, Syracuse, and Wake Forest missing out. They finished 4-7 in those bowl games. Four teams finished in the top 25; FSU (5th), GT (8th), Clemson (15th), and Louisville (24th).

 

2015 Overview:

Much has stayed the same in the ACC as FSU and Clemson are still the overwhelming favorites. However Clemson is the favorite to win the Atlantic Division and the ACC this year. The Coastal looks to be a battle as every team has a legit chance of winning the Coastal title. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech seem to be the favorites in the media. The ACC again has a slate of high-profile Out Of Conference (OOC) games that can directly affect the perception of the league in the 2015 season.

Sept 3-7 – UNC v South Carolina (in Charlotte); Louisville v Auburn (in Atlanta); Virginia @ UCLA; Ohio St @ Virginia Tech

Sept 12 – Notre Dame @ Virginia

Sept 19 – GT @ ND; Nebraska @ Miami

Oct 3 – ND @ Clemson

Nov 28 – Clemson @ So Carolina; FSU @ Florida; Georgia @ GT

Atlantic:

Clemson (4.4):

Offense – Their offense will depend on how healthy Sophomore Phenom Deshaun Watson can stay. When healthy he is the best QB in the ACC, and arguably the most talented in the nation. He will play behind one of the ACC’s best offensive line, and has plenty of options surrounding him. If Watson remains healthy all year then Clemson will likely have the best offense in the ACC and one of the better offenses in the nation. With one caveat, how will their offense do without Coach Chad Morris calling the plays?

Defense – Defensively Clemson lost a lot of players from last year’s elite defense (not ACC, but nation). They will still have one of the more talented defenses in the ACC this year, particularly at DL. However their playoff hopes will rely on how well that defense does outside of the ACC (against ND and So Car).

Overall – Coach Dabo Swinney has steadily been building a very talented roster and stocking Clemson with SEC-level talent. Overall this is perhaps his most talented team since he took over the reins at Clemson. However with the loss of Offensive Coordinator Morris and a lot of good experienced players on the defense they will go as Deshaun Watson takes them. They will be talented to compete with ANY team in the nation. They really are a year away.

ACC Win Shares: 5.32 (prediction 7-1)

Overall Win Shares: 8.36 (prediction 9-3)

 

Florida State (4.6):

Offense – They lost pretty much their entire offensive roster.  Including 7 draft picks. What they have returning is a few sophomore stars that started as True Freshman last year and a lot of talented players surrounding them. The biggest thing to note is transfer QB Everette Golson, who took Notre Dame to the National Championship game as a Freshman 3 years ago, before getting into academic trouble and losing a QB battle last year (mainly due to turnover problems). If Golson and Fisher can solve the turnover problems that plagued the offense last year and plagued Golson at Notre Dame then they can have a very explosive offense. The offensive line is completely new, but quite talented. Their skill position players are among the most talented in the entire country, but all quite young. How they gel as an offensive unit with Golson will determine how high they can go.

Defense – Defensively FSU lost 4 Draft picks that all should challenge for playing time in the NFL this year. However none of those 4 played up to their billing last year and all were inconsistent. They get much younger this year, but with leader and super-star Jalen Ramsey back, as well as a lot of young talent if they can overcome the inconsistencies from a year ago they should be able to have an improved defense over last years (which after being a top 5 defense the previous 3 years, fell off significantly).

Overall – Coach Jimbo Fisher is putting together a nice run with 3 straight ACC championships, a host of top 5 recruiting classes, and a host of NFL draft picks, as well as a 39-3 record the last 3 years (27-1 the last 2). Quite an impressive run! This is a rebuilding year for FSU, but how far they fall will depend on how quickly the young talent gets up to College speed and adjusts. One of the more intriguing teams in the country this year as their talent says they can compete for a playoff spot, but their inexperience and youth says they could be far from that.

ACC Win Shares: 6.33 (prediction 7-1)

Overall Win Shares: 9.88 (prediction 10-2)

 

North Carolina State (4.07):

Offense – Much like FSU and Clemson, NC St will go as far as their QB can take them. Jacoby Brissett had an up and down season last year. At times looking like a future NFL QB, and at times look like the QB who lost a position battle at UF. The talent around him will be improved; however it is not much to write home about. If he puts it all together in year 2, NC State should be a very good offense and one of the better ones in the ACC.

Defense – Defensively NC St has been steadily improving their talent level, however they are still not on the level where they can consistently compete with FSU and Clemson. Their defense should be much better than it was last year (which was pretty bad), and should be good enough if their offense stays consistent that they can have a top 25 team.

Overall – Coach Dave Doeren has steadily improved at NC State over the last 2 years and should take another step forward this year as he upgrades the roster and builds NC State into a top 25 caliber team. He still has some work to do, especially if he wants to challenge Clemson and FSU, but he should take a big enough step this year to be the third best team in the ACC Atlantic (and potentially ACC overall). However he will go as far as his QB can take him.

ACC Win Shares: 3.89 (prediction 5-3)

Overall Win Shares: 7.45 (prediction 9-3)

 

Louisville (3.90):

Offense – Louisville enters a rebuilding phase, as coach Bobby Petrino rebuilds Louisville’s roster to fit his wants. Louisville lost 3 very good skill position players and a few offensive linemen. However those players carried Louisville’s offense last year.  Will Gardner at QB was less than impressive.  Petrino is known for offensive juggernauts; however it might take him another year or 2 before he can build that at Louisville. I do think Petrino will build a good team at Louisville, but they are at least 2 years away from really being able to compete with the big boys of the ACC.

Defense – Defensively Louisville has had a consistently elite squad over the last 2-3 years. Charlie Strong may have moved on last year, but there was not much of a drop off in how their defense played. However they lost even more players from Strong’s defensive powerhouse this off-season. They should still be good defensively, but not good enough to carry the offense like they have been in the past (even if they didn’t have to carry the offense with Bridgewater). They will still have one of the better back 7’s in the ACC, but it will not be nationally elite.

Overall – Coach Bobby Petrino is known for turning teams around and building them into top 10-15 programs. He has done it before at Louisville. I do think he will get there with Louisville again, but they will be rebuilding this year as they lost a lot of players over the last 2-3 years. Quite frankly Louisville is not a program that can continue to reload after loses like that. They will be far from a bad team, but they will take a big step back this year.

ACC Win Shares: 3.83 (prediction 4-4)

Overall Win Shares: 6.82 (prediction 7-5)

 

Boston College (3.66):

Offense – Last year Boston College was bolstered by a very experienced Offensive Line that was able to control almost every game. They controlled the clock and kept opposing defenses off the field, allowing them to stay in games. This year those 5th year seniors are gone and replaced with a very young line. They will still be well coached, but they will take a HUGE step back this year on offense. They also lost a QB who was able to make plays when needed last year in Tyler Murphy. Replacing him will not be so easy either. Their skill position players are better than one might think at BC and are really the strength of the offense this year.

Defense – They have decent enough talent on the defensive line that should keep them from getting rolled over, even against the better offensive lines in the ACC. However the rest of the defense just isn’t where it will need to be to keep them in games while their Offense gains needed experience. But should be one of the worse units in the ACC.

Overall – Coach Steve Addazio has worked wonders at Boston College the last 2 years and being much better than many think. However he was relying on a lot of older transfers and 5th year senior types. It will be interesting to see how things go with mostly his own recruits this year and without a significant advantage in the experience department. I don’t expect them to completely fall off this year, but a big step back from last year should be expected (even if not seen in the record).

ACC Win Shares: 3.22 (prediction 3-5)

Overall Win Shares: 6.18 (prediction 6-6)

Syracuse (3.64):

Offense – Syracuse offense last year was very stagnant; they could never find a QB to take hold of the starting job. This year it appears that Terrell Hunt has finally taken a step forward and grabbed the starting spot. That should help their offenses’ consistency. However they are still pretty far behind in terms of talent. Don’t look for much out of this group.

Defense – Syracuse fielded a pretty good defense last year. This year shouldn’t be much different as they have talent on the Defensive Line (always a good starting point for a good defense). The defense will be better than the offense again this year, and should keep them competitive in most games.

Overall – Coach Shafer started his tenure in Syracuse with a Bowl invite. They took a major step back last year finishing 3-9. Expect more of the same this year with a slightly better team.

ACC Win Shares: 3.01 (prediction 2-6)

Overall Win Shares: 5.47 (prediction 4-8)

 

Wake Forest (3.20):

Offense – Wake Forest had one of the worst offenses in the nation last year. It was quite awful. I expect some improvement this year however not enough to make any significant steps forward.

Defense – Wake Forest like Syracuse fielded a pretty good defense last year (Wake had a better defense, but their offense was much worse). However Wake lost some significant talent (including a first round pick in the Defensive backfield) to the NFL. They should still have a notable defense this year, but it is going to have to be elite to make up for the lack of offense, and they just don’t have the horses for that.

Overall – Coach Clawson is in his 2nd year at Wake Forest. He did not have a very good first year and has an uphill battle at Wake Forest to get the talent needed to compete. Wake Forest is in the bottom 5 of talent at every positional group in the ACC. I expect another season at the bottom of the ACC as Clawson tries to build up the Wake Forest talent level.

ACC Win Shares: 2.01 (prediction 0-8)

Overall Win Shares: 4.2 (prediction 3-9)

 

Coastal:

Miami (4.2):

Offense – With QB Brad Kaaya returning after a very promising Freshman season, there is a lot to look forward to for Miami’s offense. Possessing one of the more talented Offensive Lines and as always plenty of skill players to get the ball too, Miami is in good position. They do have to replace 3 departed NFL players at the skill positions, however with Junior Stacey Coley at WR, Sophomore Joseph Yearby at RB, they have the talent to do so. This should be a top 5 offense in the ACC.

Defense – This is where Miami has seriously been upgrading their talent level in recent years.  No it is not at Dynasty Miami levels, but it is better than it has been at any time under Coach Golden, particularly in the back 7.

Overall – Miami has underperformed woefully since they joined the ACC a decade ago, and still have not played in an ACC championship game. I think this is the team that breaks through and does it.  The Coastal division is wide open with very little separating the teams in terms of talent and experience. This is Miami’s most talented team since Al Golden arrived.  Could potentially be a top 25 team.

ACC Win Shares: 4.19 (prediction 5-3)

Overall Win Shares: 7.28 (prediction 8-4)

 

Georgia Tech (4.2):

Offense – Georgia Tech lost every skill position player that played a significant role last year. However they return one of the better OL in the ACC and a terrific QB (for their system) in Justin Thomas.  He is very adept at running Coach Paul Johnson’s offense. He alone is a big head-ache for opposing Defensive Coordinators.  It will be tough to replace the 2 big WRs from last year, but that is something that Paul Johnson has been able to do fairly easily in his time there. This offense should light it up again, although it won’t be as good as last year.

Defense – Perhaps the biggest reason for GT’s come-uppance last year was an improved defense. However they lost quite a few key players from that defense last year.  I expect them to take a step back as traditionally in Coach Johnson’s tenure they have had a pretty crappy defense. I don’t think this will be a bad defense, but it won’t be as good as last year and will not be good enough to see them top 15 in the nation again.

Overall – Coach Paul Johnson with his Triple Option offense is very adept at taking lesser talent and beating the big boys. His offense puts a lot of heat on defenses, and you can’t take one play off. As always under Paul Johnson the offense will be tough to stop and that will be good enough to see them into a bowl game. They should challenge for the Coastal championship, I have them falling just short of Miami (losing head to head matchup).

ACC Win Shares: 3.77 (prediction 5-3)

Overall Win Shares: 6.44 (prediction 7-5)

 

North Carolina (3.92):

Offense – UNC had a very prolific offense last year as Coach Larry Fedora starts to get his recruits in there to run his system. They have one of the top returning ACC Quarterbacks and what potentially could be the best OL in the ACC. This offense should challenge Clemson, FSU, and GT for the best offense in the ACC. The offense is good enough to see UNC as a top 25 team.

Defense – This is where UNC was hurting last year. Their defense was not good at all, giving up 70 points to a group of 5 school (ECU). It simply wasn’t good enough. It should take a step forward this year and be a bit better, but still not good. However it performs well enough then UNC will challenge Miami and GT for the Coastal title and could challenge Clemson or FSU for the ACC championship.

Overall – Coach Fedora has been here for 3 years. Each year people expect UNC to take a step forward and be a top 25 team. They have the talent to do so. However each year UNC has failed to live up to that hype. This is probably the least hyped UNC team since Fedora got here. However I think it will end up being the best. Expect them to make it to their 3rd straight Bowl game under Fedora (was ineligible his first season).

ACC Win Shares: 4.3 (prediction 4-4)

Overall Win Shares: 7.59 (prediction 8-4)

 

Duke (3.89):

Offense – Duke continues to surprise every year. They lose some key players from last year’s stellar offense including the leader and QB. However QB is a position that one should not worry about too much under Coach Cutcliffe. They return what should be a good OL (despite losing a first round pick), and a couple good skill position players. Once again should be a good offense that can move the ball against most defenses.

Defense – This is where Duke has stepped up the last 2 years and saw them to their best teams since Steve Spurrier was roaming the sidelines. Defense is where the talent level has really stepped up recently. Their defense will take a small step back, but still be decent.

Overall – Coach David Cutcliffe has really stepped it up at Duke and has been to 3 straight bowl games (losing all of them). Prior to that Duke had NEVER made it to a bowl game in back to back seasons IN THEIR HISTORY. So this really is new ground for Duke. I expect more of the same this year. They will be a good team and will make some noise, but will come up short at the end (Coastal Title race).

ACC Win Shares: 3.79 (prediction 4-4)

Overall Win Shares: 6.79 (prediction 8-4)

 

Virginia Tech (3.83):

Offense – The last few years Virginia Tech has failed to put a good product on the field on this side of the ball. However they return almost their entire offense from a year ago and have transfer Michael Brewer at QB. They should be much improved on offense this year. Like NC St, they should go as far as Michael Brewer takes them. Which could be pretty far, but might not be far at all.

Defense – This is where Virginia Tech makes their money. They always have a stout defense. This year should be no different with perhaps the best Defensive line in the ACC, as well as one of the best Corners in the nation. Look for them to be able to limit any offense in the country under DC Bud Foster’s aggressive schemes.

Overall – Coach Frank Beamer has been one of the better modern day coaches over the last 2 decades and has built Virginia Tech into a household name. However over the last few years his teams have been plagued by inconsistencies and some bad losses.  I don’t think this year will be any different. They should be good enough and could make a run at the Coastal title, but I suspect they will probably lose a few head-scratchers.

ACC Win Shares: 3.98 (prediction 4-4)

Overall Win Shares: 6.37 (prediction 6-6)

 

Pittsburgh (3.89):

Offense – Pittsburgh has the returning ACC offensive player of the year in RB James Conner, paired with one of the best OL’s in the ACC and a good QB. As always Pitt looks very good on paper. However every year something happens and they start losing games that they should not. On paper this should be one of the best offenses in the ACC, but I’ll go out on a limb and say it vastly under performs.

Defense – Like most Pitt defenses this one should have a good Defensive line, but lacking in skill players on defense. This defense could hold back the potentially prolific offense. However with a Head Coach known for great defenses at Michigan St, this could be the reason Pitt overcomes the hurdle and finally plays up to potential.

Overall – This is year one for Pat Narduzzi as the Head Coach at Pitt. He is known for his great defenses at Michigan St. If he can bring some of that to Pitt, with the Offensive players/OL they have, they could be a top 25 team. But as always with a first year coach, you never know what can happen. I expect Pitt to look very good in some games and pull of some upsets that people aren’t expecting, but also to falter in other games they should dominate in.

ACC Win Shares: 4.19 (prediction 3-5)

Overall Win Shares: 6.76 (prediction 6-6)

 

Virginia (4.02):

Offense – This was a very inconsistent offense last year, with a new QB and new skill position players I wouldn’t expect much different. They have an experienced OL that should help ease the burden on the QB. The talent level on this offense is not close to the level of the talent on their defense which is close to elite.

Defense – UVA is perhaps the 2nd most talented defense in the ACC after Florida State. They played very well last year, pulling off some upsets and some other near upsets based on the play of this unit. They have would potentially could be an SEC caliber Defensive Line and a very good Defensive Backfield. If it all comes together this could be an elite defense in the country (top 10).

Overall – Coach Mike London is in his 6th year at Virginia and has had mixed results. He has been to one bowl, when no one really expected them to go, and almost went last year when people expected them to be awful. The other years they underperformed based on expectations. This is perhaps the most talented team Coach London has had since he has been there and there is certainly enough talent to win the Coastal. However they could also finish last in the Coastal (where I have them finishing).

ACC Win Shares: 4.17 (prediction 3-5)

Overall Win Shares: 6.37 (prediction 6-6)

 

2014 ACC Preview

Last year the ACC had to representatives in BCS bowls and both teams (Clemson and FSU) represented the ACC well by winning. FSU of course won the National Championship over Auburn, breaking the SEC’s (and the state of Alabama’s) National Championship Streak.  However the rest of the ACC was still mired in the mediocrity that has plagued it over the last decade. This year we see Maryland leave to join the BigTen and Louisville joining to take their spot.  That does add a better football school to the ACC. Miami and UNC should be a step closer to taking what should be their normal spots and dominating the Coastal division like FSU and Clemson do the Atlantic.  Duke had an amazing year last year, and has been on a run the last couple years that they haven’t seen since the early 1990’s. Look for Duke to continue to impress this year.

 

With no further adieu, here is the ACC 2014 preview.

Atlantic Division

FLORIDA STATE:

Overall Rating – 5.27

ACC Win Share – 7.02 (Total of 10.73)

CLEMSON:

Overall Rating – 4.63

ACC Win Share – 5.86 (Total of 8.87)

LOUISVILLE:

Overall Rating – 4.09

ACC Win Share – 4.24 (Total of 7.22)

SYRACUSE:

Overall Rating – 3.89

ACC Win Share – 3.66 (Total of 6.27)

WAKE FOREST:

Overall Rating – 3.64

ACC Win Share – 2.80 (Total of 5.86)

BOSTON COLLEGE:

Overall Rating – 3.62

ACC Win Share – 2.62 (Total of 5.46)

NORTH CAROLINA STATE:

Overall Rating – 3.40

ACC Win Share – 2.13 (Total of 5.14)

Coastal Division

MIAMI:

Overall Rating – 4.16

ACC Win Share – 4.52 (Total of 7.74)

NORTH CAROLINA:

Overall Rating – 4.02

ACC Win Share – 4.83 (Total of 7.68)

PITTSBURGH:

Overall Rating – 3.83

ACC Win Share – 4.11 (Total of 7.32)

DUKE:

Overall Rating – 3.82

ACC Win Share – 4.12 (Total of 7.32)

VIRGINIA TECH:

Overall Rating – 3.64

ACC Win Share – 2.80 (Total of 5.86)

GEORGIA TECH:

Overall Rating – 3.70

ACC Win Share – 3.47 (Total of 6.08)

VIRGINIA:

Overall Rating – 3.62

ACC Win Share – 2.60 (Total of 5.00)

 

 

We have Florida State v Miami rematch in the ACC championship.  With Florida State winning the rematch.

 

Top 5 Offenses:

Florida State

Louisville

Miami

Duke

North Carolina

 

Top 5 Defenses:

Florida State

Clemson

Virginia Tech

Virginia

Syracuse

 

Storylines to watch for:

  1. Improvement of Clemson’s defense
  2. How will Miami’s Freshman QB perform?
  3. How quick will Louisville adapt to Petrino and his offense?
  4. Will Jacoby Brissett improve NC State enough to make a bowl game?
  5. Will Duke continue their rise and win the Coastal again? or was it a 1 year aberration?
  6. Will Florida State dominate the ACC again?

 

ACC – Atlantic Division SF Power Ratings

In the earlier post we went through the ACC SF Power Ratings. Here we will breakdown the Atlantic Division teams strengths and weaknesses.

Florida State (4.93)
Weakness: FSU is a team with few weaknesses. The main weakness is the lack of experience at the Quarterback position, as they will be starting either a Redshirt Freshman, or a Redshirt sophomore with no playing experience (at all). One perceived weakness is lack of experience on the Defensive Line. First, it’s not as inexperienced on the interior as many think. Sure they lost both starters, but they have 3 guys who have played quite extensively. On the outside they are inexperienced however they do have 2 starters with playing experience (one making 3 starts last year and the other was a rotational player 2 years ago).
Strength FSU ranks as the best overall Offense (5.28) and the best overall Defense (4.95) in the ACC. They rank #1 in every Defensive category and are top 3 in every Offensive category. There are no positions where FSU lacks in talent and on paper has no weaknesses. They are the only ELITE talent in the ACC.

Clemson (4.15)
Weakness: Clemson’s main weakness is their rushing attack and their Offensive Line. Their OL is just average at 3.78, combined with the RB just a 3.73. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just not great. They are also slightly above average in the defensive backfield.
Strength: Clemson has a very strong offense overall at 4.13, and a surprising 4.16 on defense. They return their entire front 7 on defense, from a group that has talent. They have the 2nd highest rated Pass attacking in the ACC (After FSU) and it is the strength of this team.

Boston College (3.93)
Weakness: Boston College is a surprise here as they were the worst team in the ACC last year. There is a talent gap between the top 2 in the Atlantic and Boston College however. Boston College does not have the strongest defense (3.75). The weakest unit being their Defensive Backfield (3.6). They do not have a ton of experience on the Defensive side of the ball, despite being the 4th most experienced team in the ACC.
Strength: Boston College has a surprisingly strong Offense. The biggest strength is on the Offensive Line which comes in at 4.36 (tied for FSU for third in the ACC). They also have the 3rd rated Rushing attack in the ACC. Their Offense as a total is a pretty strong 4.11, mostly due to experience. They have 4 starters on Offense that have multiple years of starting experience. They will only be breaking in 2 new starters (at TE and one OL). Other than that their Offense returns intact.

Maryland (3.77)
Weakness: Maryland has a surprising amount of talent, however their talent lacks experience (8th in ACC). They have the third worst OL in the ACC as well as 4th rated Rushing attack. Perhaps the most surprising is that they have one of the Conference’s lowest rated Defense’s (3.63), despite having a good Defense last year and having 9 of 11 starters with starting experience. It’s probably a testament to their Defensive coaching.
Strength: Maryland’s strength despite not having a lot of experience is on the Offense (4.12). Particularly their Passing attack (4.28). Getting back their QB (last year they had such a catastrophe that they had a freshman LB playing QB) and a strong group of WR (4.63) that is third behind Clemson and FSU in the Conference, should go a long way in changing Maryland’s fortunes this year.

Wake Forest (3.67)
Weakness: Wake Forest overall has a lack of talent compared with the rest of the ACC. They are particularly weak on both lines, as well as run offense and defense. With the weakest being the Run Defense. Talent wise they are probably more deficient on defense than on offense.
Strength: Despite their Offense being less than their Defense overall, their best Strength is their Pass Offense. On Defense their strongest aspect is the Pass Defense.

North Carolina State (3.6)
Weakness: NC State comes in third to last in the ACC in experience. They have some good talent, but it is young and does not have a lot of talent. Future looks good. North Carolina State’s biggest weakness is their entire defense as they ranked last in the ACC in overall defense (3.3). They rate last in Pass defense and 2nd to last in Run defense. With their Defensive Line being 3rd to last.
Strength: The strongest thing with NC State will be their Pass offense, despite losing a 2 year starter at QB, they return a 2 year starter at QB (from Colorado State). So they have experience and talent in their passing attack.

Syracuse (3.36)
Weakness: Syracuse ranks last in experience and last in talent. Not a good combination. Offensively they rate much lower than any other ACC team. The weakest however is their Offensive Line and their Run Offense. Those are the only units in the entire ACC that rate below a 3.0. However their Defensive Line also rates very low and is .3 below anyone else in the ACC.
Strength: Syracuse does not have any strengths compared with the rest of the ACC. However their Pass Offense and Pass Defense are comparatively on par with some of the ACC and higher than their Run Defense and Offense ratings.

As you can see there are stark contrasts in the ACC Atlantic with 2 of the top Teams in the ACC and then the lowest 4 ACC teams (MD, WF, NCSU, and Syracuse). Stay tuned for the ACC Coastal Division later this week as well as the SEC ratings.