We are set to begin another season of ACC football and there are plenty of questions heading into the 2015 season.
Can anyone unseat Florida State as ACC champions? After the Seminoles and Clemson, what do we make of the rest of the conference?
There are plenty of more questions to be answered, but now that camps are officially over and the season is upon us, each team will get to make their own statement beginning this weekend.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how the conference stacks up heading into Week 1 of the season.
1. Florida State (Last season- 13-1, 8-0 ACC)
Even without Jameis Winston, it is hard to pick against the Seminoles until someone proves that they can knock them off. Everett Golson adds experience as the starting quarterback, but overall we don’t know what to expect from Jimbo Fisher’s team. Needless to say they still have plenty of talent. Up Next- Saturday vs. Texas State.
2. Clemson (10-3, 6-2)
The Tigers are the media’s pick to dethrone the Seminoles at the top of the conference. Deshaun Watson was voted the preseason ACC player of the year, but he has to prove he can stay healthy. The bigger concern is last year’s top-ranked defense suffered a ton of losses. Up Next: Saturday vs. Wofford.
3. Georgia Tech (11-3, 6-2)
The Orange Bowl champs get Jabari Hunt-Dayst back on the defensive front and Justin Thomas runs Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack to near perfection. It will be tough for anyone to knock them from atop the Coastal Division. Up Next- Thursday vs. Alcorn State.
4. Louisville (9-4, 5-3)
The Cardinals will have a very shaky offense, at least on paper. But that defense should keep them in every game they play. Up Next-Saturday vs. No.6 Auburn
5. Virginia Tech (7-6, 3-5)
Similar to Louisville, the Hokies should have a great defense, especially with studs like CB Kendall Fuller and DL Dadi Nicolas. The question will be can QB Michael Brewer show improvement. Up Next- Saturday vs. No. 1 Ohio State
6. North Carolina State (8-5, 3-5)
The Wolfpack could be a dark horse, especially with the explosive Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and a ton of weapons around him. The question for NC State is can they beat good teams. If they are going to improve off an eight-win season a year ago, they have to do better than the 0-5 mark against Power 5 teams that finished .500 or better last season. Up Next- Saturday vs. Troy
7. Pitt (6-7, 4-4)
Speaking of potential dark horse candidates, the Panthers could be a surprise in the Coastal Division. They possess the reigning ACC Player of the Year in RB James Conner. Perhaps the best WR in the nation in Tyler Boyd and a new coach that has given the program energy and hope. Quarterback Chad Voytik was very solid in the second half of the season a year ago. He needs to be better in year two as a starter. If Pat Narduzzi can make the Pitt defense somewhat respectable, which will be a tough chore in year one, then Pitt will have a fighting chance. Up Next- Saturday vs. Youngstown State.
8. Duke (9-4, 5-3)
Duke has gone 19-8 combined the last two years and there is plenty of excitement around quarterback Thomas Sirk. While the Blue Devils have weapons, they have some big concerns up front on both sides of the ball. Up Next- Thursday at Tulane.
9. Miami (6-7, 3-5)
Sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya could be really good, having thrown for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns as true freshman last year. They do have a lot of talent, but the questions are who is going to step up and make plays for Kaaya and can the Canes offensive line protect him? Up Next- vs. Bethune-Cookman
10. North Carolina (6-7, 4-4)
QB Marquise Williams is a nice dual-threat player who can lead a nice Tar Heels offense. But North Carolina’s defense gave up an average of a whopping 498 yards per game last season and there are no signs of it being drastically better. Up Next-Thursday vs. South Carolina
11. Boston College (7-6, 4-4)
The Eagles have to replace quarterback Tyler Murphy, so that is a lot of production they lose. New QB Darius Wade is more of a passing threat and BC returns a slew of quality running backs. Up Next- Saturday vs. Maine
12. Virginia (5-7, 3-5)
Honestly it is a surprise that Mike London still has a job after going just 11-29 against ACC teams during his first five years. There is some talent in place though but it may be hard to improve greatly off of last season’s five wins. Up Next- Saturday at No. 13 UCLA
13. Syracuse (3-9, 1-7)
Syracuse loses a lot on defense from last year and only scored an average of 17 points on offense while going through four different quarterbacks. A healthy Terrel Hunt should help, but not that much. Up Next- Saturday vs. Rhode Island
14. Wake Forest (3-9, 1-7)
The Deamon Deacons were 127th out of 128 teams in scoring last season, averaging just 14.8 points. That says it all. Up Next- Thursday vs. Elon.
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