#15-iowa-state-logo#15 Iowa State
#20-texas-logo#20 Texas
12:00 pm, November 27
#2-notre-dame-logo#2 Notre Dame
#25-north-carolina-logo#25 North Carolina
3:30 pm, November 27
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michigan-logoMichigan
12:00 pm, November 28
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12:00 pm, November 28
#22-auburn-logo#22 Auburn
#1-alabama-logo#1 Alabama
3:30 pm, November 28
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#4-clemson-logo#4 Clemson
3:30 pm, November 28
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#5-texas-a&m-logo#5 Texas A&M
7:00 pm, November 28
#14-oklahoma-logo#14 Oklahoma
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#13-georgia-logo#13 Georgia
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7:30 pm, November 28

The Ultimate 2017 ACC Football Preview

The 2017 ACC Football Preview.

Atlantic

T1. Clemson (#6 Nationally)

Clemson reached the pinnacle last season, toppling Nick Saban and Alabama in a revenge national championship game with just :01 left on the clock. They lost a lot, including QB Deshaun Watson and LB Ben Boulware, who were the captains on both sides of the ball. They recruited well, and five-star true freshman QB Hunter Johnson will be able to challenge Jr. QB Kelly Bryant for the starting job, although I would lean towards Bryant if I had to make a prediction. The defense will still be very good, and the linemen on both sides of the ball are among the best in the country, the real question will be if they can figure out the quarterback situation in time for week one vs Auburn. Projected Record: 11-1 (7-1)

T1. Florida State (#3 Nationally)

Florida State has the most talented roster in the ACC. The ‘Noles return nine starters from a top-25 defense and they get  back all-american playmaking safety Derwin James. They also return their quarterback and bring in the best recruiting class in the ACC. The schedule is rough, they play my #1, #6, and #13 teams away from home (Alabama, Clemson, and Florida), not to mention home games against Miami and Louisville. While Florida State is one of the three best teams in the country, the tough schedule means they could finish the season with two losses. Projected Record: 10-2 (7-1)

3. Louisville (#15 Nationally)

Louisville only returns 11 starters, but that includes Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. The schedule is favorable, with no real challenges out of conference, and Clemson at home. The Cards were 9-1 and a playoff contender late last season, but the offense tanked, losing three straight to finish 9-4 and 23rd in my end of year top 25. Because of the finish in 2016, they aren’t being talked about, but Louisville has a gamechanger at QB, with 600 yard receiver returning. Louisville could contend for an ACC Championship, as long as they can limit the turnovers, which plagued them last season. Projected Record: 10-2 (6-2)

4. North Carolina State (#25 Nationally)

NC State was so close in 2016. The Wolfpack had Clemson, the eventual national champions, beaten, but a missed field goal led to the Wolfpack losing in overtime. Three weeks later against Florida State, NC State blew a 20-10 lead, dropped an interception, and lost 24-20. This team is better than that team. They return 16 starters, including QB Ryan Finley. Don’t be surprised if NC State actually does knock off someone big in 2016, because this is the best NC State team in a while, and they could’ve been an ACC Title contender if they were in the Coastal. Projected Record: 7-5 (4-4)

T5. Boston College

Boston College’s defense was really good last year, but a poor offense led to a 2-6 record in the ACC. The schedule gets tougher with Notre Dame in non-conference and Syracuse (one of two ACC wins in 2016) goes from home to away. Outside of ND, Boston College faces a fairly easy noncon schedule (@NIU, CMU, UConn) which could get them halfway to bowl eligibility. Projected Record: 4-8 (2-6)

T5. Wake Forest

Wake Forest is in an interesting situation where they could have a better team than the year prior, but actually, lose more games. Boston College and Syracuse were home games last year, but are away this year, and they draw Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, both of which are on the road. They return 13 starters but would need to beat NC State and avoid a sneaky good Appalachian State team to be bowl-eligible. Projected Record: 5-7 (2-6)

7. Syracuse

Syracuse is one of the most experienced teams in the ACC, but Dino Babers may have to wait a little longer for a bowl appearance. The Orange face the #6 toughest schedule in the country, and the toughest in the ACC. They draw @ Miami from the coastal, and go to Baton Rouge in non-conference play. Syracuse is still a few years away. Projected Record: 4-8 (1-7)

Coastal

1.  Miami (#18 Nationally)

Had Brad Kayaa stayed with Miami they would’ve been a preseason top ten team. Kayaa left early, and now is on the Detroit Lions, but this is still a really good team. They return the second-most starters in the Coastal from a team that want 9-4 in 2016. Quarterback play will be the focus early, whether Malik Rosier or N’Kosi Perry gets the job. The schedule is favorable, with Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame at home, although they better have the QB situation figured out, because a massive rivalry game vs Florida State looms in Week 3. Projected Record: 9-3 (6-2)

T2. Virginia Tech (#24 Nationally)

Justin Fuente had the most success of any first-year coach in 2016. He came in and was able to bring the Hokies to their first 10-win season since 2011. The Hokies lose their leading passer, rusher, and receiver from that team, including QB Jerod Evans, who led in two of those three categories. They do bring back seven starters on defense, and with Bud Foster at DC, it’s safe to say the Hokies will have one of the best defenses in the ACC. Tech open the season with West Virginia, and open ACC play against Clemson, but another double-digit season isn’t out of the question.  Projected Record: 9-3 (5-3)

T2. Georgia Tech

It was an interesting three years under QB Justin Thomas. In 2014, the Yellow Jackets finished in the top ten in the country after an Orange Bowl win, then nothing seemed to click in 2015 with Tech going 3-9, and then last year they turned around and hit nine wins. Losing Thomas will be tough, and I don’t see Paul Johnson’s team making it to nine wins again, but with 8 starters returning on both sides of the ball, Georgia Tech isn’t in any danger of missing out on a bowl game. Projected Record: 7-5 (5-3)

T2 Pittsburgh

Pitt, just like every other team in the top five of the Coastal, will lose it’s quarterback, but the Panthers found an interesting replacement. Max Browne, who is better known as the guy who Sam Darnold took over for, will lead Pitt in 2017. Pitt draws NC State from the Atlantic and has games against potential top ten teams Oklahoma State and Penn State in the non-conference. Pat Narduzzi should be able to bring the Panthers to a bowl, but they return just four starters on defense and are the least experienced team in the ACC. Projected Record: 7-5 (5-3)

5. North Carolina

Larry Fedora only returns five starters on offense from a team that challenged for the ACC Championship last year. It will be interesting to see how the Tar Heels do now that the offensive combo of Mitch Trubisky and Ryan Switzer have moved on to the NFL. The offense also loses over 99% of their rushing yards from last season, and the schedule is tough, with Louisville and NC State from the Atlantic, and #2-4 in the Coastal all on the road. Fedora is a good coach, but I expect UNC taking a step back from last year’s 8-5 record. Projected Record: 6-6 (3-5)

6. Duke

Duke returns quarterback Daniel Jones, RB Shaun Wilson, and their top receiver, TJ Rahming, but the schedule isn;t the best. They get Baylor and Northwestern out of conference, and face Virginia and Wake Forest, two teams Duke would’ve been favored against, on the road. David Cutcliffe is maybe the most underrated coach in college football, but for Duke to return to a bowl, they would need those two wins away from home. Projected Record: 4-8 (2-6)

7. Virginia

Bronco Mendenhall has a tall task ahead of him this coming season after last year’s Virginia team went 2-10. This year should be better, with the schedule getting easier, getting Duke, Carolina, and Boston College at home. QB Kurt Benkert returns, and the Cavs have three legit Top-50 draft picks on defense, and a potential First Team All-American in Quin Blanding, but bowl eligibility seems like a stretch in 2017. Projected Record: 4-8 (1-7)

ACC Championship: Clemson Over Miami

All-ACC Team & Awards

Offense

QB: Lamar Jackson, Louisville
RB: Mark Walton, Miami
RB: Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
WR: Deon Cain, Clemson
WR: Ahmmon Richards, Miami
TE: Cam Serigne, Wake Forest
OL: Tyron Crowder, Clemson
OL: Mitch Hyatt, Clemson
OL: Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh
OL: Tony Adams, NC State
OL: Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech

Defense

DL: Bradley Chubb, NC State
DL: Harold Landry, Boston College
DL: Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
DL: Christian Wilkins
LB: Micah Kiser, Virginia
LB: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
LB : Shaq Qarterman, Miami
DB: Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State
DB: Derwin James, Florida State
DB: Quin Blanding, Virginia
DB: Jaire Alexander

Special Teams

K: Michael Badgley, Miami
P: Tom Sheldon, North Carolina

MVP: Lamar Jackson, QB – Louisville
Offensive POY: Mark Walton, RB – Miami
Defensive POY: Tarvarus McFadden, CB – Florida State
Newcomer of the Year: Cam Akers, RB – Florida State

247Sports Recruiting Rankings

  1. Florida State
  2. Miami
  3. Clemson
  4. Virginia Tech
  5. North Carolina
  6. Louisville
  7. Pittsburgh
  8. Georgia Tech
  9. Duke
  10. NC State
  11. Syracuse
  12. Virginia
  13. Wake Forest
  14. Boston College

Five Quick Questions

Team on the rise? NC State
Team on the decline? North Carolina
Is Clemson really a National Title contender? Yes
What is Louisville’s ceiling? Orange Bowl
Who is the best new QB? Max Browne (Pitt)

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