Everything you need to know about the ACC heading into the 2022 season


Credit: Clemson Athletics

As hard as it is to believe, we are right around 40 days to the start of the college football season. And as such, over the last couple weeks we've given our preseason power rankings in every league.


We started with the Pac-12.


Then we shared our SEC Power Rankings - which I know everyone will agree with completely.


And our Big 12 Power Rankings Big 12 - which you read here

Most recently, we shared the Big Ten.


Today, it's onto the ACC, where Clemson is looking to bounce back, Miami is on the rise under Mario Cristobal, and no one is quite sure what to make of the once proud Florida State Seminoles.


Also, odds to win the league are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook:



1. Clemson (-120): The Clemson Tigers and head coach Dabo Swinney had their streak of six straight conference titles snapped last year and they also failed to make the playoff for the first time since 2014. A surprisingly below average offense was the main reason why the Tigers failed to meet expectations. The concerns are still there on offense and start with offensive coordinator, Tony Elliott, leaving to be the head coach at Virginia, and being replaced by Brandon Streeter. A big bright spot is the running backfield, led by Will Shipley. The offensive line should also be fine with four starters coming back even though they were inconsistent last year. Question marks remain across the offense though, with the biggest being at quarterback. DJ Uiagalelei comes back as the starter, but after a lackluster year, expect his leash to be shorter, and true freshman Cade Klubnik could be breathing down his neck. Inconsistency also plagued the receiving corps and they lost Justyn Ross to the NFL. There’s still talent there, but they will need to step up this year. The defense will be in very good shape despite losing Brent Venables to be the head coach of Oklahoma. New defensive coordinator, Wes Goodwin, inherits a very deep defensive line anchored by Tyler Davis, Bryan Bresee, and Myles Murphy. The linebackers and secondary won’t be as strong but still have a lot of talent with Trenton Simpson at linebacker and Andrew Mukuba at safety. This unit could be the best defense in all of college football this year. The schedule is decent for the Tigers with a trip to Notre Dame and then a home game with the rivalry against South Carolina in the non-conference. They also get Wake Forest and Florida State on the road and then NC State and Miami at home in ACC play. I like the Tigers to win around 10 games but wouldn’t be surprised if they win more.


2. NC State (+800): The Wolfpack come into the year primed for a run at an ACC title. Head coach Dave Doeren returns the most starters of any team in the ACC with 17, after going 9-3 last year. The biggest returner is at quarterback with Devin Leary coming back to lead the offense. The receivers should be fine but are just a little unproven. The running backs are a question mark after losing its top two rushers last year and only averaging 3.3 yards per rush last year. The offensive line is also a question mark mainly because of the departure of Ikem Ekwonu at left tackle. The defense will be led by one of the best linebacking units in the country, headlined by Payton Wilson and Drake Thomas. The defensive line won’t be as good as the linebackers, but Cory Durden at tackle will be a force. The secondary will also be very strong with Tanner Inge at safety, Tyler Baker-Williams at the nickel, and Shyheim Battle at cornerback. The schedule shakes out well for the Wolfpack with a home game against Texas Tech in the non-conference. They also get Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest at home in conference. They then get Clemson and North Carolina on the road in ACC play. I like NC State to win around 10 games but finish behind Clemson due to the tiebreaker.


3. Wake Forest (+1800): Dave Clawson’s team is the defending champion of this division and has a lot to like this year. The Demon Deacons’ strength is on offense. Sam Hartman comes back at quarterback after lighting up the scoreboard last year. He’s also got a ton of weapons to work with too with A.T. Perry, Taylor Morin, and Donovan Greene. The offensive line returns four starters up front too. The running backs are a little questionable and will be by committee. The defense was and still is the biggest question mark. Brad Lambert comes in as the new defensive coordinator. The linebackers are the biggest concern and have the most room to grow. The secondary also needs improvement as well but isn’t the weakest link. The defensive line is the strength with Rondell Bothroyd off the edge. The schedule sets up well for the Demon Deacons too. They visit Vanderbilt and get Army at home in the non-conference. They then visit Florida State and Louisville in conference and then get Clemson, Boston College, and North Carolina at home. I like the Demon Deacons to win around eight games and maintain the great momentum the program has been on.


4. Florida State (+3500): Florida State showed progress under coach Mike Norvell’s second year, and just missed out on a bowl game. This year, another jump in wins should be expected. The key is quarterback Jordan Travis and how much he continues to grow and improve. Travis will also have a bunch of new weapons to throw to that were added through the portal, highlighted by Mycah Pittman and Johnny Wilson. The running backs will be by committee with both Treshaun Ward and Trey Benson too. The biggest question mark is the offensive line, but they are expected to improve a bit too. The defense has seven returning starters that coordinator, Adam Fuller, can utilize. The linebackers are a little questionable, but the secondary and defensive line should be fine. Robert Cooper and Fabian Lovett headline the line, while Omarion Cooper is the headliner in the secondary. The schedule is going to be difficult. They get LSU in New Orleans and then Florida at home in the non-conference schedule. They also play Wake Forest and Clemson at home and then NC State and Miami on the road in ACC play. I like the Seminoles to win around eight games this year but finish behind Wake Forest due to the tiebreaker.


5. Boston College (+4000): Boston College and Head Coach Jeff Hafley were poised to have a great year last year before quarterback Phil Jurkovec went down for the year with an injury. Jurkovec is now healthy which will be a huge plus for the Eagles. The Eagles also get Pat Garwo III back at running back and Zay Flowers back at receiver. The biggest concern lies with the offensive line, which only has one returning starter coming back. On defense, Boston College brings back seven starters on defense, so there’s optimism for this unit. The secondary will be the standout with Josh DeBerry and Jaiden Woodbey at cornerback. The linebackers should be fine but still need to improve. The defensive line is the biggest question mark with the Eagles needing to get to the quarterback more than they did last year. The Eagles have a decent schedule with a trip to Notre Dame in the non-conference. They have road games against Virginia Tech, Florida State, Wake Forest, and NC State in ACC play. They also play Clemson at home. I like Boston College to win around seven games but could win more.


6. Louisville (+2800): Louisville has had two straight losing seasons which makes this year a huge one for head coach Scott Satterfield. Hopes are high especially with Malik Cunningham back at quarterback. The Cardinals added a handful of new receivers through the portal like Tyler Hudson and Dee Wiggins. Marshon Ford will also be one of the best tight ends in the conference. The offensive line will also be a plus because they have four starters coming back, with the standout being Caleb Chandler at guard. The defensive line will be the biggest weakness on the defense with the most question marks. The strengths will be at linebacker with Yasir Abdullah headlining the unit and then they should be fine in the secondary with cornerback Kei’Trel Clark coming back at cornerback. The schedule sets up to be difficult. They have road games against UCF and Kentucky in the rivalry game in the non-conference. They also get Clemson on the road and have home games against Florida State, Pitt, Wake Forest, and NC State. I like Louisville to win around six games because the schedule is so difficult, but they do have the talent to win more.


7. Syracuse (+25000): Head Coach Dino Babers needs a bowl berth to save his job, but six wins won’t be easy. The strength of the offense will be the running game, with Sean Tucker at running back. However, new offensive coordinator, Robert Anae will need to get more out of the passing game. Garrett Shrader really struggled down the stretch last year, so maybe a new offense will help. The offensive line should be solid, but still has question marks too. Defensive coordinator, Tony White, has a strong linebacking corps to work with thanks to Mikel Jones and Stefon Thompson leading the unit. The secondary returns five starters alone, including Garrett Williams and Duce Chestnut at secondary, which should help a pass defense that wasn’t good last year. The biggest weakness is on the defensive line where the Orange need to replace five linemen. The schedule is mostly backloaded for the Orange, they play Purdue and Notre Dame at home in the non-conference. They also play NC State and Florida State at home in ACC play. The Orange also get Clemson, Pitt, and Wake Forest on the road as well. I think the orange win around four games due to the schedule being so difficult and the questions about Dino Babers will continue.


ACC Coastal


1. Miami (+550): New head Coach Mario Cristobal came home to Miami this past offseason and it seems he’ll have the full support of the administration behind him, which was lacking under previous coaches. The offense should be in a great place with Tyler Van Dyke coming back at quarterback for an entire season. New offensive coordinator Josh Gattis should do wonders with Van Dyke. The Hurricanes will have a run game by committee, with three talented backs ready to go. The offensive line is also in good shape, with three starters returning from last year, including Zion Nelson who will be one of the best offensive linemen in the country. The biggest concern is at wide receiver on offense with Charleston Rambo leaving. The defense needs to improve after last year. The defensive line got a boost with a few transfers, and a standout should be Leonard Taylor at tackle. There’s a concern at linebacker with a lack of depth and talent remaining a question. The secondary should be fine though with Tyrique Stevenson at cornerback and then also James Williams and Kamren Kinchens at safety. The schedule is decent enough for the Canes to make a lot of noise this year. They play at Texas A&M in the non-conference and then also at Virginia Tech and Clemson in conference. They also play North Carolina, Florida State, and Pitt at home. I like the Hurricanes to win around 10 games this year and gain some great momentum under Cristobal’s first year.


2. Pitt (+800): Pitt had some notable players leave recently with Kenny Pickett headed to the NFL and then Jordan Addison leaving for USC. They have all five starters coming back on the offensive line and then they also have a good stable of running backs available with Israel Abanikanda, Vincent Davis, and Rodney Hammond. The running game should be the strength of the offense. New offensive coordinator, Frank Cignetti Jr. also has a new quarterback to work with in Kedon Slovis. The only question mark is at wide receiver because the loss of Addison is huge. The Panthers also have seven starters back on defense, which will help a lot. The defensive line is strong with Calijah Kancey and Habakkuk Baldonado. The linebackers should also be fine with SirVocea Dennis leading the way. The biggest weakness on defense will be in the secondary after losing Damarri Mathis at cornerback. The schedule is difficult for the Panthers. They play West Virginia in a revival of the Backyard Brawl and then Tennessee too at home in the non-conference. The only notable ACC game they have at home is Virginia Tech. They get North Carolina and Miami on the road in conference too. I think the Panthers win around nine games and finish just below Miami in the Coastal.


3. North Carolina (+1500): Last year was a little disappointing for head Coach Mack Brown and the Tar Heel after the team had high preseason expectations. Redshirt freshman Drake Maye is the most likely starter at quarterback who will replace Sam Howell. The receivers will be fine, thanks to Josh Downs coming back on the outside. The receivers need more depth though, and the running game is a bit of a question mark because of the production that’s been lost there. The offensive line also needs to improve and only has two starters coming back. The defense needs to improve across the board after finishing near the bottom of the conference against the pass and the run. Defensive coordinator, Gene Chizik, has some talent to work with like Myles Murphy on the defensive line. They also have Noah Taylor and Cedric Gray in the linebacking room. The secondary will also be led by both Tony Grimes and Storm Duck at cornerback. The schedule for the Tar Heels is decent enough. They have a home game against Notre Dame in the non-conference, and then Virginia Tech, Pitt, and NC State at home in ACC Play. They also play Miami and Wake Forest on the road. I like the Tar Heels to win around eight games and rebound a bit after last year.


4. Virginia Tech (+5500): New Head Coach, Brent Pry, has a lot to fix in Blacksburg, but the cupboard is not bare. Brent Pry’s bread-and-butter is defense and there’s a few questions there. The defensive line is the biggest question mark and weakness on defense. There’s just a lack of depth that the Hokies have there. The linebackers are in better shape with Dax Hollifield leading the way and same with the secondary too being led by Chamarri Conner at cornerback. There are bigger questions that need to be answered on offense. The quarterback position will be a battle between Grant Wells and Jason Brown, but the receiving corps is also barren and needs playmakers to step up. The running game will be the strength of the whole offense with Malachi Thomas and Jalen Holston splitting reps there. The offensive line has three starters coming back, but there’s a lack of depth and it’s concerning if there’s any injuries that pop up. They play West Virginia at home in the non-conference and then also play Miami and Boston College at home in conference play. The Hokies also play North Carolina, Pitt, and NC State on the road in ACC play. I like the Hokies to win around six games this year and make it to a bowl game in Brent Pry’s first year.


5. Virginia (+3500): Virginia has a new head coach in Tony Elliott, and he inherits one of the best quarterbacks in the conference in Brennan Armstrong. The receiving corps is also very strong and is led by Dontayvion Wicks and Keytaon Thompson. The offense will have a more balanced attack with Ronnie Walker and Mike Hollins leading the way on the ground. The weakness is in the trenches with all five starters leaving and having to rely on a few FCS transfers. The defense is a big weakness and they ranked last in the ACC against the run. The defensive line struggled to get pressure last year and needs to improve. The linebackers need to improve to help in the run defense and then the secondary needs to improve due to Virginia allowing way too many big plays last year too. The Cavaliers will be in a lot of shootouts this year because of how much the defense needs help. The schedule is very backloaded. They play at Illinois and then get Coastal Carolina at home in the non-conference. They also play Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, and Pitt all at home in ACC play. The only notable game on the road in ACC play for Virginia is the game against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. I think the Cavaliers win around five games just because I think the issues on defense are too much to overcome to get to a bowl game.


6. Georgia Tech (+20000): Head Coach Geoff Collins enters this season on the hot seat after only winning three games his first three years. Only four starters return in total, which is not great. Jeff Sims needs to be more consistent at quarterback after only throwing 12 touchdowns last year. Despite the loss of Jahmyr Gibbs to Alabama, the running back room is still more than capable with Dontae Smith, Hassan Hall, and Dylan McDuffie. The receivers are questionable and need some playmakers to step up too with only one player returning that caught more than 15 passes. The offensive line also will be a weakness with only one starter returning. The defense will be a big issue after ranking near the bottom of the ACC the last three seasons I don’t expect it to improve that much again. There’re only two starters returning. The linebacking unit should be a highlight with Charlie Thomas leading the way. There’s not much else to be excited about because of how much was lost on both the defensive line and in the secondary. The schedule is brutal for the Yellow Jackets. They play Ole Miss at home and then UCF and the rivalry game against Georgia on the road in the non-conference. They play Clemson in Atlanta, and then Miami at home in conference. They also get Pitt, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina on the road in ACC play. I think the Yellow Jackets only win around four games this year and Geoff Collins’ seat might be hotter than it’s ever been.


7. Duke (+100000): Mike Elko comes in as the new head coach of the Blue Devils, and he has a massive rebuilding job in front of him. Riley Leonhard is set to take over the quarterback job but needs help at receiver after losing Jake Bobo to UCLA. Jake Calhoun is the most likely replacement to be the leading receiver. Jordan Waters will take the reins at running back after Mataeo Durant left for the NFL. The biggest strength of the offense will be the offensive line with four starters returning. The defense needs a ton of help after giving up 46 points a game last year. The linebackers will be the strength with Shaka Heyward and Dorian Mausi. The defensive line will need help after only one returning starter coming back. The biggest weakness will be in the secondary with major holes throughout the unit. The schedule is also difficult. The Blue Devils get Northwestern and Kansas on the road in the non-conference. They play Miami, Boston College, and Pitt on the road in ACC play. They also play North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest at home in conference too. I think the Blue Devils win around three games and the rebuilding project shows some signs of life.

To read our mid-summer SEC preview click here


To read our mid-summer Pac-12 preview, click here


To read our mid-summer Big 12 preview click here


To read out mid-summer Big Ten preview click here


And for full ACC odds via DraftKings, click here


Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus

 

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