#13-iowa-state-logo#13 Iowa State
#17-texas-logo#17 Texas
12:00 pm, November 27
#2-notre-dame-logo#2 Notre Dame
#19-north-carolina-logo#19 North Carolina
3:30 pm, November 27
penn-state-logoPenn State
michigan-logoMichigan
12:00 pm, November 28
kentucky-logoKentucky
#6-florida-logo#6 Florida
12:00 pm, November 28
#22-auburn-logo#22 Auburn
#1-alabama-logo#1 Alabama
3:30 pm, November 28
pittsburgh-logoPittsburgh
#3-clemson-logo#3 Clemson
3:30 pm, November 28
louisville-logoLouisville
boston-college-logoBoston College
4:00 pm, November 28
lsu-logoLSU
#5-texas-a&m-logo#5 Texas A&M
7:00 pm, November 28
#9-georgia-logo#9 Georgia
south-carolina-logoSouth Carolina
7:30 pm, November 28

2020 ACC Football Preview

Check out the CSD preview for the ACC’s 2020 season in this loaded preview, featuring in-depth coverage of everything you need to know about all 15 teams, projected records based on thousands of computer simulations, the projected all-conference team, awards, and more.

The league has announced that it plans to play ten conference games this year and that its teams are allowed to play up to one non-conference game. Additionally, the conference has scrapped divisions for the 2020 season and added Notre Dame.

Projected Standings

1. Clemson

Head Coach: Dabo Swinney
2019 Record: 14-1 (8-0 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 9.9 wins, 1.1 losses (8.9 wins, 1.1 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 at Wake Forest
Sept. 19 The Citadel
Sept. 26 OPEN DATE
Oct. 3 Virginia
Oct. 10 Miami
Oct. 17 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 24 Syracuse
Oct. 31 Boston College
Nov. 7 at Notre Dame
Nov. 14 OPEN DATE
Nov. 21 at Florida State
Nov. 28 Pitt
Dec. 5 at Virginia Tech

It feels weird, but it wasn’t that long ago -just 2014- when Clemson was still a clear #2 in thieir own division to Florida State. Since that year, however, the Tigers have been incredible, with 69 wins and just five losses over the five years since. Dabo Swinney has turned the Tigers into a ture college football dynasty. After a national title game trip last year, Dabo and company return one of the best QB/RB combos in college football history in Trevor Lawrence (3,665 yards, 36 touchdowns, 563 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns) and Travis Etienne (2,046 total yards, 23 total touchdowns). There is no overstating how good that duo has been over the past two years, and getting both back is massive for the Tigers.

WRs Tee Higgins (NFL) and Justyn Ross (injury) won’t be back, but the cupboard is more than stacked in SC. Joseph Ngata returns after an eye-catching year one, and four-star EJ Williams comes in to add some pop to the group. The offensive line will also go under a transition with four starters gone, but this Clemson offense has earned the benefit of the doubt, and the Lawrence/Etienne combo alone makes this a contender for the best offense in the nation.

On defense, all-world LB Isaiah Simmons is gone, as are three of four starters from the dynamite secondary, but the most important piece is back: defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who is somehow still a DC at Clemson. Over his tenure with the Tigers, Venables has proved himself as the most valuable coordinator in the country by a wide margin, and it’s a wonder he isn’t a head coach somewhere already.

Some pieces are back for Venables, including one of the best interior duos in the country in Tyler Davis and Nyles Pinkney. Senior LB James Skalski (90 tackles) returns on the second level, and CB Derion Kendrick will lead the secondary, where he’ll be joined by S Nolan Turner. There are losses, but there is a bevy of young talent on this defense, like potential Simmons replacement Mike Jones Jr.. This team will be among the favorites to win the national title yet again.

2. North Carolina

Head Coach: Mack Brown
2019 Record: 7-6 (4-4 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 9.0 wins, 2.0 losses (8.1 wins, 1.9 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 Syracuse
Sept. 19 Charlotte
Sept. 26 OPEN DATE
Oct. 3 at Boston College
Oct. 10 Virginia Tech
Oct. 17 at Florida State
Oct. 24 NC State
Oct. 31 at Virginia
Nov. 7 at Duke
Nov. 14 Wake Forest
Nov. 21 OPEN DATE
Nov. 27 Notre Dame
Dec. 5 at Miami

Almost everyone is back from a team that went 7-6 last year, to an almost scary degree that gives me 2016 Washington vibes. That Huskies team made the College Football Playoff, and I honestly believe that the ceiling is that high for this UNC team as well. QB Sam Howell (3,641 yards, 38 touchdowns) is back after one of the best true freshman seasons in recent memory. He returns both leading rushers: Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, the two of whom combined for nearly 2,000 yards in 2019. Also back are four of five starters on the line. Oh yeah, also the entire receiving corps, led by a pair of thousand-yard pass-catchers: Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome. That’s just not fair.

On defense, potential All-American CB Storm Duck is back, as is stud pass rusher Raymond Vohasek and converted QB to LB Chazz Surratt, who earned All-ACC honors last year. Cap it off with the best edge rusher if the 2020 class, Desmond Evans, and you can see why myself and many others are so high on this team. The Tar Heels will likely be the most improved team in the nation 2019 to 2020, and they have a real shot of contending with Clemson at the top of the ACC.

3. Notre Dame

Head Coach: Brian Kelly
2019 Record: 11-2
Average Projected 2020 Record: 8.9 wins, 2.1 losses (7.9 wins, 2.1 losses)

Schedule

Sept. 12 Duke
Sept. 19 USF
Sept. 26 at Wake Forest
Oct. 3 OPEN DATE
Oct. 10 Florida State
Oct. 17 Louisville
Oct. 24 at Pitt
Oct. 31 at Georgia Tech
Nov. 7 Clemson
Nov. 14 at Boston College
Nov. 21 OPEN DATE
Nov. 27 at North Carolina
Dec. 5 Syracuse

Notre Dame has been a consistent top-ten to top-15 program under Brian Kelly, going undefeated in the regular season twice (2012 and 2018) but were blown out in the postseason both years. The Fighting Irish will look to truly break into that next echelon this year, not just have the gaudy record. QB Ian Book, who is a lot better than given credit for, is back after a 3,000-yard year where he threw nearly six times as many touchdowns as interceptions. On the line, NFL talent Liam Eichenberg captains what will be the best O-Line in the country. The skill corps feels a little bare, but some unproven young guys are intriguing.

On defense, four key pieces are off to the NFL from what was one of the better Ds in the country, but a ton of talent returns. Daelin Hayes, who missed much of 2019 with an injury, looks to be back, as will be leading tackler Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and a pair of potential All-Americans in S Kyle Hamilton and CB Tariq Bracy. It feels very hard to get a read on this team, one with a ton of talent, but an obvious hole in the skills corp. The Fighting Irish will be good, but I think “national title contender” might be a stretch.

4. Virginia Tech

Head Coach: Justin Fuente
2019 Record: 8-5 (5-3 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 8.0 wins, 3.0 losses (7.0 wins, 3.0 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 OPEN DATE
Sept. 19 Virginia
Sept. 26 NC State
Oct. 3 at Duke
Oct. 10 at North Carolina
Oct. 17 Boston College
Oct. 24 at Wake Forest
Oct. 31 at Louisville
Nov. 7 Liberty
Nov. 14 Miami
Nov. 21 at Pitt
Nov. 28 OPEN DATE
Dec. 5 Clemson

Instability at the quarterback spot has been the story of Justin Fuente’s up-and-down tenure at Virginia Tech, but the Hokies have finally found their guy: 6-4, 228 pounder Hendon Hooker, who was 6-2 as a starter last year, throwing for 13 touchdowns and just two picks, both coming in the loss at rival Virginia. Hooker, a dual-threat weapon (five rushing touchdowns) will have to deal with some turnover in the receiving corps (leader Damon Hazelton transferred to Missouri) but Tre Turner (553 yards, four touchdowns) returns, and deep threat TE James Mitchell will be one of the most productive pass-catching tight ends in the conference. Kansas grad transfer Khalil Herbert comes in a halfback, and he’ll run behind one of the best lines in the ACC.

On defense, potential top-ten pick Caleb Farley is sitting out the season, but almost everyone else returns from last year’s group: ten starters and 16 of the top 18 tacklers. 120-tackle MLB Rayshad Ashby (17 TFL) is the captain of the defense, and the Hokies also boast a solid group of pass-rushers to get at ACC QBs. Farley leaving hurts, but the guy that started across from him last year, CB Jermaine Waller, would easily be a #1 guy at most P5 schools, so he should have no trouble sliding into that role for Tech. Safety Divine Deablo also returns, and VT brings in one of the best FCS pass-rushers in America, former Youngstown State end Justus Reed (12.5 sacks). 30-year DC Bud Foster, perhaps the most influential coordinator in college football history, is gone, but he left a lot for replacement Justin Hamilton to work with. This team should improve on both sides of the ball, with the defense contending for top-ten in the country status. The Hokies have a decent shot at ACC title game contention.

5. Louisville

Head Coach: Scott Satterfield
2019 Record: 8-5 (5-3 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 7.8 wins, 3.2 losses (6.9 wins, 3.1 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 WKU
Sept. 19 Miami
Sept. 26 at Pitt
Oct. 3 OPEN DATE
Oct. 9 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 17 at Notre Dame
Oct. 24 Florida State
Oct. 31 Virginia Tech
Nov. 7 at Virginia
Nov. 14 OPEN DATE
Nov. 20 Syracuse
Nov. 27 at Boston College
Dec. 5 Wake Forest

Louisville probably wasn’t as good as their 8-5 record indicated last year, but after a disastrous 2018, I think Cards fans will take it. Scott Satterfield’s first year at UL saw the Cards’ offense take off with dual-threat QB Micale Cunningham taking over for Jawon “Puma” Pass, but the improvement of offense largely hid what was one of the worst defenses in the conference, and I don’t expect that gap to close too much in 2020.

Cunningham is back, as is RB Javian Hawkins, who rushed for over 1,500 yards as a freshman. Receiver Tutu Atwell (1,276 yards) has a case to be the best wideout in the nation, he returns along with Dez Fitzpatrick and Marshon Ford. Not to mention five guys with starting experience on the line. This offense could contend with Clemson for best in the conference on their best day. The defense? A different story.

The UL defense ranked in the 100s in 2019, giving up over 50 points in six of the last seven games, including 77 to eventual ACC champs Clemson, an absolute drubbing. Luckily for the Cards, the young group will be a lot more experienced for 2020, as nine of the top 11 tacklers return, including reliable blitzer Rodjay Burns, high volume tackler Dorian Etheridge, and a pair of serviceable corners in Chandler Jones and Anthony Johnson. However, there is a gap on the defensive line, with their two best linemen gone. This defense will struggle again but should clear the low bar of last year, and the awesome offense will carry the Cards to a winning season again.

6. Florida State

Head Coach: Mike Norvell
2019 Record: 6-7 (4-4 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 6.7 wins, 4.3 losses (5.8 wins, 4.2 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 Georgia Tech
Sept. 19 OPEN DATE
Sept. 26 at Miami
Oct. 3 Jacksonville State
Oct. 10 at Notre Dame
Oct. 17 North Carolina
Oct. 24 at Louisville
Oct. 31 OPEN DATE
Nov. 7 Pitt
Nov. 14 at NC State
Nov. 21 Clemson
Nov. 28 Virginia
Dec. 5 at Duke

The Willie Taggart era at Florida State didn’t go to plan, but in comes former Memphis head man Mike Norvell, who helped make Memphis into one of the most consistent programs in the G5 over his tenure with the Tigers. Norvell will bring a jolt of electricity to the offense, which struggled mightily under the previous coach.

Back to lead the O is QB James Blackman, who has struggled at times, but, to be fair, has been saddled with one of the worst offensive lines in the P5 over his tenure with the Noles. Five-star RB Cam Akers is gone, however, Akers was never able to truly break out behind the awful line, but he will be missed. Speedy Texas A&M transfer Jashaun Corbin looks to be the day one replacement, but recruiting will need to build that position back up over the long term. WR Tamorrion Terry is a future NFL player that should be Blackman’s #1 target through the air. As mentioned, the line has been bad but should improve at least a little with experience.

On defense, the ‘Noles have regressed over the past couple years, mainly due to a bevy of injuries in 2019, but a lot of experience returns from that squad, as 19 players who played at least 100 snaps return (of 25). Of course, this team has recruited well, so the talent will be there to back up a group that returns ten starters, including All-American DT Marvin Wilson and his compadre on the interior, Cory Durden. Emmett Rice is a solid veteran to lead the linebacking corps, and leading tackler Hamsah Nasirildeen and All-ACC corner Asante Samuel will patrol the secondary as two potential All-American candidates. I’m still unsure about the offense, but the talent is there that I think this defense could be one of the best in the country. The ‘Noles should improve in year one under Norvell, but ACC title contention may be a year away.

7. Miami

Head Coach: Manny Diaz
2019 Record: 6-7 (4-4 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 6.1 wins, 4.9 losses (5.3 wins, 4.7 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 10 UAB
Sept. 19 at Louisville
Sept. 26 Florida State
Oct. 3 OPEN DATE
Oct. 10 at Clemson
Oct. 17 Pitt
Oct. 24 Virginia
Oct. 31 OPEN DATE
Nov. 6 at NC State
Nov. 14 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 21 Georgia Tech
Nov. 28 at Wake Forest
Dec. 5 North Carolina

There’s no way around it, the Miami offense was bad last year. Really, really bad. The three potential QBs we spent all offseason talking about all flopped, there was no run game to speak of, and the offensive line sucked. Well, the reset button has been hit. Manny Diaz is the new head coach, and former SMU OC Rhett Lashlee will take over the offense after a couple of great years with the Mustangs. Also incoming, a transfer at QB, Houston’s D’Eriq King (4,925 yards, 50 touchdowns, 1,421 rushing yards, 28 rushing touchdowns in career). King nearly had 4,000 total yards in 2018, but in his limited appearances before redshirting last year, he really struggled. I’ll try to ignore recency bias because of how awesome King was in 2018, but the rough 2019 does scare me a little.

TE Brevin Jordan is back, and while the top wideouts are gone, a couple of interesting young names should fill in. All five starters are back on the line, and while leading rusher DeeJay Dallas is off to the NFL, the ‘Canes already struggled in the run game last year so he won’t be too missed. The offense will probably struggle again, but King is such an X-factor that I do have some optimism for improvement.

On defense, Miami was awesome last year, the offense just was so bad it never really shone through. A lot of talent is gone to be fair, including the entire linebacking corps, highlighted by Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney.

Corner Tajan Bandy and S Robert Knowles are also gone, and top-ten NFL draft prospect Gregory Rousseau opted out of the season. So yeah, a lot departs, but there is some new talent. Temple edge rusher Quincy Roche (137 tackles, 26 sacks in career) is in for the ‘Canes after being one of the best defenders at the G5 level last year. Add in a solid recruiting class, a few Pac-12 transfers, and DJ Ivery (three INTs) back, and Miami should have a decent, if not 2019 good, D. I still don’t have a ton of confidence in the offense, but if King can step up, the ‘Canes could improve on last year’s six-win mark.

8. Pittsburgh

Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi
2019 Record: 8-5 (4-4 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 5.7 wins, 5.3 losses (4.7 wins, 5.3 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 Austin Peay
Sept. 19 Syracuse
Sept. 26 Louisville
Oct. 3 NC State
Oct. 10 at Boston College
Oct. 17 at Miami
Oct. 24 Notre Dame
Oct. 31 OPEN DATE
Nov. 7 at Florida State
Nov. 14 at Georgia Tech
Nov. 21 Virginia Tech
Nov. 28 at Clemson
Dec. 5 OPEN DATE

Pitt had almost no offense to speak of last year, but they won eight games, almost entirely due to the defense, but what offense they had was mostly thanks to QB Kenny Pickett, an unremarkable but accurate QB that will rack up yards but can struggle in the playmaking department, and was a liability to make bad decisions (nine touchdowns to eight interceptions in ACC play). Pickett’s star receiver, Maurice Ffrench, is gone, but an FSU transfer at TE and senior Taysir Mack will keep the receiving corps stable. The running game returns the top three from 2019, highlighted by senior AJ Davis (530 yards, four touchdowns). The line also brings back five starters. There will be experience, so the offense should improve a little, but the raw talent just isn’t there, so the group will probably struggle again.

The defense is a different story. The Panthers boast one of the best lines in the country and get almost everyone back outside of DT Jaylen Twyman (opt-out). Ends Patrick Jones and Deslin Alexandre are back after combining for 14 sacks, and Amir Watts returns on the inside, not to mention 2018 star Rashad Weaver (6.5 sacks in 2018), who missed 2019 with an injury. The linebacking corps will be all seniors, led by Cam Bright, and the #1 and #2 tacklers on the team, Paris Ford and Damar Hamlin, make a dangerous safety duo. Damarri Mathis (two interceptions, eight PBUs) struggled with penalties last year, but is a monster in press and should make a dangerous #1 corner. The opt-out of Twyman hurts, but this will still be one of the best defenses in the conference, and they should drag the poor offense to a decent season again.

9. Virginia

Head Coach: Bronco Mendenhall
2019 Record: 9-5 (6-2 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 4.2 wins, 5.8 losses (4.2 wins, 5.8 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 OPEN DATE
Sept. 19 at Virginia Tech
Sept. 26 OPEN DATE
Oct. 3 at Clemson
Oct. 10 NC State
Oct. 17 at Wake Forest
Oct. 24 at Miami
Oct. 31 North Carolina
Nov. 7 Louisville
Nov. 14 Duke
Nov. 21 OPEN DATE
Nov. 28 at Florida State
Dec. 5 Boston College

Last year’s Virginia team was the best in nearly 30 years. An ACC Coastal Championship, a trip to a New Year’s Six bowl, where they held their own with SEC East runner-up Florida, and most importantly, the first win against Virginia Tech since 2003. Bronco Mendenhall completed the rebuild. The problem? Now he might have to do it again. QB Bryce Perkins, who led the team in passing and rushing, is gone, as are the top two receivers, and the best defender: now-New York Jet Bryce Hall.

Sophomore Brennan Armstrong is the replacement for Perkins, he might actually be a better passer than Perkins was but lacks the playmaking ability and foot talent. Armstrong will have a pair of excellent receivers to throw to in slot man Billy Kemp IV and the excellent Terrell Jana, who dropped just one pass in 2019 and should contend for all-conference honors. The line should be solid, and leading RB Wayne Taulapapa (473 yards, 12 touchdowns) returns, the ‘Hoos also bring in Indiana transfer Ronnie Walker. Perkins gone is obviously a huge loss, and it’s very “wait and see” to determine just how vital he was to this offense’s success (my guess: a lot).

On defense, 12 of the top 14 tacklers are back, including the dangerous linebacking duo of Charles Snowden and Noah Taylor, both of whom are solid in coverage and excellent pass-rushers. Aaron Faumui (40 pressures, 14 missed tackles) is a NT with considerable raw talent that just can’t tackle, he should take a step forward this year. Bryce Hall replacement Darrius Bratton was solid in 2018 before an injury sidelined him last year. In a year when I expect a lot of ACC teams (North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami and Pittsburgh to some extent) to take a step forward, its hard to be high on Virginia when they’ll clearly be taking a step back without Perkins, but a lot of talent is on this team, and if Armstrong can impress, the Cavaliers have enough talent to be a top-tier ACC team again despite a brutal schedule, where the Cavaliers draw Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Miami on the road and don’t get to play conference bottom-feeders Georgia Tech and Syracuse.

10. NC State

Head Coach: Dave Doeren
2019 Record: 4-8 (1-7 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 4.7 wins, 6.3 losses (3.7 wins, 6.3 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 OPEN DATE
Sept. 19 Wake Forest
Sept. 26 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 3 at Pitt
Oct. 10 at Virginia
Oct. 17 Duke
Oct. 24 at North Carolina
Oct. 31 OPEN DATE
Nov. 6 Miami
Nov. 14 Florida State
Nov. 21 Liberty
Nov. 28 at Syracuse
Dec. 5 Georgia Tech

NC State has been such a shockingly consistent team under Dave Doeren that watching last year’s team struggle so much felt almost weird. After back-to-back 9-4 seasons, the departure of QB Ryan Finley destroyed the Wolfpack offense. NC State couldn’t find a reliable guy to throw the ball, and the majority of rushing snaps went to freshman. Devin Leary is the man at QB, looking to improve after a bad 2019, but there will be talent around him. All four running backs, three of whom were freshman in 2019, return in a group led by Zonovan Knight (745 yards, five touchdowns), and an offensive line that was the best part of last year’s bad offense returns four of five starters. Top pass-catcher Tabari Hines is gone, but almost everyone else is back in a group that should be solid as long as there is someone to catch passes from. This offense should take a step forward as it gets more experienced, but won’t come close to the Finley era teams.

On defense, there are serious questions on the line and in the secondary, but the duo of Payton Wilson and Drake Thomas should be solid on the second level. IDL Alim McNeil is one of the most productive nose tackles in the conference, but depth is a serious issue across the defense, a component even more important in 2020 than a normal year. Dave Doeren has been such a consistent coach that a rebound feels like it *should* happen, but there just isn’t a lot of talent on the roster. Even a .500 year feels unlikely.

11. Wake Forest

Head Coach: Dave Clawson
2019 Record: 8-5 (4-4 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 4.1 wins, 6.9 losses (3.1 wins, 6.9 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 Clemson
Sept. 19 at NC State
Sept. 26 Notre Dame
Oct. 3 OPEN DATE
Oct. 9 Campbell
Oct. 17 Virginia
Oct. 24 Virginia Tech
Oct. 31 at Syracuse
Nov. 7 OPEN DATE
Nov. 14 at North Carolina
Nov. 21 at Duke
Nov. 28 Miami
Dec. 5 at Louisville

Granted its eight wins, but they put statues up for that sort of thing in Winston Salem. Former Bowling Green HC Dave Clawson has brought Wake Forest out of the ACC cellars in his six years. After going 6-18 in his first two years, it seemed as if Clawson would be another victim of Wake’s struggles, but in the four years since, the Demon Deacons have averaged 7.5 wins, highlighted by last year’s 8-5 squad. A fifth straight winning season might be tough, but you’ve got to give credit to Clawson for getting Wake this far. Star QB Jamie Newman is gone after an excellent 2019, as is stud receiver Sage Surratt. 2018 starting QB Sam Hartman does return, though. Hartman was alright in 2018, he’s reliable, but struggles to make big plays and is a big step down from Newman. Sophomore RB Kenneth Walker III averaged close to five yards per carry last year, and three starters are back on the line, along with a Maryland transfer that could start.

On defense, 14 guys with significant playing experience return in a group highlighted by awesome edge rusher Carlos Besham Jr. (11 sacks). Blitzing linebacker Ryan Smenda Jr. and coverage back Ja’Cquez Williams both return as well, and while the corners are gone, the excellent pass rush should keep Wake in the game even if pass coverage struggles. This team will obviously take a step back without Newman, Surratt, and the awesome cornerback duo of Essang Bassey and Amari Henderson. Nevertheless, this team will get some wins, and the youth of this squad means I expect a return to bowl season for Wake in 2021.

12. Duke

Head Coach: David Cutcliffe
2019 Record: 5-7 (3-5 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 3.4 wins, 7.6 losses (2.6 wins, 7.4 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 at Notre Dame
Sept. 19 Boston College
Sept. 26 OPEN DATE
Oct. 3 Virginia Tech
Oct. 10 at Syracuse
Oct. 17 at NC State
Oct. 24 OPEN DATE
Oct. 31 Charlotte
Nov. 7 North Carolina
Nov. 14 at Virginia
Nov. 21 Wake Forest
Nov. 28 at Georgia Tech
Dec. 5 Florida State

It has been up-and-down at times, but in the aggregate, David Cutcliffe has brought a level of respect to the Duke program that the basketball school has rarely received in their history. 2019 was a clear step back for the Blue Devils, as QB Daniel Jones (and his top four receivers) left, but even a down-year still gave Duke a 5-7 record. Now, in comes Clemson transfer Chase Brice at QB. Brice is a blue-chip recruit that was excellent in garbage time for the Tigers, and he should provide a jolt to this offense. The skill corps, which wasn’t much to speak of last year, will be a lot more experienced as almost everyone is back, including leading rusher Deon Jackson (641 yards, six touchdowns). The offense should improve with the added experience and Brice at the helm.

On defense, seven of the top nine tacklers are back, including the monster edge rush duo of Victor Dimukeje and Chris Rumph (combined 15 sacks). The secondary will also compete to be the best in the nation, with three legit awesome starters in Michael Carter II, Josh Blackwell, and Marquis Water, although the depth did get killed by transfers. The linebacking corps also does take a hit with leading tackler Koby Quansah gone, but all in all this should be a very good defense. The massive holes in the skill corps and the unproven nature of Brice make me wary of this group, but this is clearly a high-ceiling team that has the potential to upset some folks.

13. Boston College

Head Coach: Jeff Hafley
2019 Record: 6-7 (4-4 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 3.4 wins, 7.6 losses (2.4 wins, 7.6 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 OPEN DATE
Sept. 19 at Duke
Sept. 26 Texas State
Oct. 3 North Carolina
Oct. 10 Pitt
Oct. 17 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 24 Georgia Tech
Oct. 31 at Clemson
Nov. 7 at Syracuse
Nov. 14 Notre Dame
Nov. 21 OPEN DATE
Nov. 27 Louisville
Dec. 5 at Virginia

Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley comes in to try to turn around a Boston College that has long struggled to get past the .500 mark. Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec is in to start at QB for the Eagles, and he could be the best BC QB in recent memory, with an ability to make plays with his feet and an awesome arm.

TE Hunter Long is one of the best in the ACC, and also back is top WR Kobay White (460 yards, five touchdowns). The offensive line should be fantastic, with a trio of potential all-conference guys back, a group highlighted by potential All-American center Alex Lindstrom. Star RB AJ Dillon is gone, but junior David Bailey can stop a significant drop-off. Bailey took off for 844 yards and seven scores as Dillon’s #2 last year.

On defense, a Boston College program that has consistently been one of the better in the country in that department took a massive step back. However, 16 of the 19 top tacklers are back, and former Bengals LB Tem Lukabu is an awesome hire to stop the bleeding. Leading tackler Max Richardson returns after an awesome 2019, as do ends Brandon Barlow and Marcus Valdez (combined five sacks).

Three of four starters return from a secondary that struggled, although corner Brandon Sebastian is a legit all-conference contender. Whether 2020 can be a step forward largely hinges on how good Jurkovec is, but in a conference with lots of teams taking steps forwards this year, that may be especially difficult.

14. Georgia Tech

Head Coach: Geoff Collins
2019 Record: 3-9 (2-6 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 2.4 wins, 8.6 losses (2.3 wins, 7.7 losses)

Schedule

Sept. 12 at Florida State
Sept. 19 UCF
Sept. 26 at Syracuse
Oct. 3 OPEN DATE
Oct. 9 Louisville
Oct. 17 Clemson
Oct. 24 at Boston College
Oct. 31 Notre Dame
Nov. 7 OPEN DATE
Nov. 14 Pitt
Nov. 21 at Miami
Nov. 28 Duke
Dec. 5 at NC State



The transition from option offense to a more “normal” spread style attack for Georgia Tech was always going to be tough, and boy was it. Freshman QB James Graham could make plays with his feet but struggled mightily in the passing game (45%). Single receivers on other teams had more yards than Tech’s entire receiving corps combined, and the offensive line, all of whom were recruited to run an entirely different scheme, were clearly out of their depth. Now, everyone returns and has had an extra year to learn the scheme. RB Jordan Mason will be the star after dashing for over five yards a carry last year, and he will be key to an offense that should improve this year.

The offense had a built-in excuse with the massive scheme change. The defense? They just weren’t very good. Granted, the Yellow Jackets were extraordinarily young on that side of the ball, with over a dozen underclassmen receiving significant playing time. However, the saying goes, the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. 13 of the top 14 tacklers return, and the Yellow Jackets add in a few P5 transfers along with an excellent recruiting class. The secondary should be dynamite, with safeties Juanyeh Thomas and Tariq Carpenter one of the best duos in the country, and LB Quez Watkins is a monster run stopper. This team will be a lot better, but in a conference with a bunch of teams taking a step forward, it may be hard to notice.

15. Syracuse

Head Coach: Dino Babers
2019 Record: 5-7 (2-6 ACC)
Average Projected 2020 Record: 3.0 wins, 8.0 losses (2.1 wins, 7.9 losses ACC)

Schedule

Sept. 12 at North Carolina
Sept. 19 at Pitt
Sept. 26 Georgia Tech
Oct. 3 OPEN DATE
Oct. 10 Duke
Oct. 17 Liberty
Oct. 24 at Clemson
Oct. 31 Wake Forest
Nov. 7 Boston College
Nov. 14 OPEN DATE
Nov. 20 at Louisville
Nov. 28 NC State
Dec. 5 at Notre Dame

After a 2019 season that saw Syracuse’s wins slashed in half from the year before, 2020 may be another tough year for the Orange. Highly touted QB Tommy DeVito was solid, but the offensive line was so bad that he was running for his life almost constantly. DeVito is back, and the line should be more experienced, but now much of the skill corps departs, with three of four top pass-catchers gone along with leading rusher Moe Neal.

On defense, much of an already weak front seven departs, but the secondary should be the best unit on the team. CB Ifeatu Melifonwu and S Andre Cisco are a pair of All-ACC caliber playmakers that willbe a nightmare for ACC QBs to deal with. However, the turnover in the front seven may prove to be too much, and I think this is an ateam that struggles again, and one that could find themselves in last place in what should be a much improved ACC.

ACC Title Game Pick: Clemson over North Carolina

All-ACC Team

QB – Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
RB – Travis Etienne, Clemson
RB – Javian Hawkins, Louisville
WR – Tutu Atwell, Louisville
WR – Dazz Newsome, North Carolina
TE – Brevin Jordan, Miami
C – Jimmy Morrissey, Pittsburgh
OL – Ben Petrula, Boston College
OL – Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
OL – Bryce Hargrove, Pittsburgh
OL – Zion Johnson, Boston College

DL – Marvin Wilson, Florida State
DL – Chris Rumph II, Duke
DL – Quincy Roche, Miami
DL – Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
LB – Max Richardson, Boston College
LB – Rayshard Ashby, Virginia Tech
LB – James Skalski, Clemson
DB – Andre Cisco, Syracuse
DB – Nolan Turner, Clemson
DB – Asante Samuel, Florida State
DB – Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State

Most Appearances by Team:

Clemson – 4
Florida State – 3
Boston College – 3
Louisville – 2
Miami – 2
Pittsburgh – 2
North Carolina – 1
Notre Dame – 1
Virginia Tech – 1
Duke – 1
Syracuse – 1

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Defensive Player of the Year: DL Marvin Wilson, Florida State
Coach of the Year: Mack Brown, North Carolina
Newcomer of the Year: QB D’Eriq King, Miami
Game of the Year: Clemson @ Notre Dame (November 7)

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