We’re just 14 days away from the first full Saturday of college football. Sure, there are 4 games next Saturday and 12 on the following Thursday. But there’s something special about that first full Saturday. I’ll be writing about each conference over the next week or so to get geared up for the season.
The ACC, if you take out Clemson, is a very evenly skilled conference. Clemson is clearly the cream of the crop again this season. But a lot of talent is returning to the ACC this year. This will provide us with great, competitive games to watch. Some stars have moved on, but others are emerging.
The Atlantic Division is led by Clemson. There has been a bit of a QB controversy here between Kelly Bryant and freshman Trevor Lawrence. Whichever one is under center, the Tigers will be explosive. Their defense is every bit as stellar as the past couple seasons. Florida State will be anticipating the return of Deondre Francois at the helm. He missed most of last season with an injury, how he rebounds will determine their fate. Look for Boston College to make a splash as well. If FSU stumbles, BC could slide ahead of them. RB AJ Dillon, fresh off a stunning freshman season, is a force to be reckoned with.
Louisville lost Lamar Jackson to the NFL. But the Cardinals have their top 3 WRs returning. The running game here is inexperienced, but a solid passing game should keep defenses honest. Opening the season versus Alabama is rough, but these guys will be pretty solid. NC State returns QB Ryan Finley and WR Kelvin Harmon. Losing Jaylen Samuels to the NFL will hurt, but this is still a pretty deep team. Wake Forest surprised a lot of people last year. QB John Wolford is gone, but having WR Greg Dortch on the field can put the Demon Deacons fans at ease. QB Eric Dungey is back for Syracuse, but his 2 main targets are gone. It might be a long season for Orange fans.
The Coastal Division has Miami clearly at the top. QB Malik Rosier and RB Travis Homer are back to lead the offense. The top 2 WRs are gone, but the Hurricanes have a lot of talent ready to step up. North Carolina should be marginally better this season. Only 5 returning starters on offense, but the skill positions are included in those five. Duke will see QB Daniel Jones returning along with his top 3 targets from last season. I look for TJ Rahming to have a big season. Sophomore RB Brittain Brown will take over the RB duties.
Virginia Tech and QB Josh Jackson are looking to make some noise in the ACC. WR Cam Phillips is gone, but Jackson is a QB that can make things happen. His WR core is still pretty deep even without Phillips. They are one of my surprise teams this year. Georgia Tech is going to run the ball down your throat again this season. QB TaQuon Marshall is electric. Throw in KirVonte Benson and you have a dangerous 1-2 punch coming at you. Pitt, like Syracuse, is likely in for a long season. They return only 4 offensive starters from a team that went 5-7. Their schedule won’t do them any favors either. Virginia lost Kurt Benkert, but RB Jordan Ellis will be back. Converted RB Olamide Zaccheaus will now be at WR for the Cavaliers. He led the team in receiving last season.
A lot of new faces will be on the field in the ACC. This leaves some question marks, but it also makes the upcoming season even more exciting. I have Virginia Tech as my surprise team and TJ Rahming and Olamide Zaccheaus as the emerging players. It’s just around the corner, guys. I’m pumped.