18 for ’18: 18 key offseason topics: No. 11, the teams that should rise up and make some big noise in their respective Power Five conferences.
18 for ’18: No. 11 Every Power Five Conference’s (Relative) Sleeper Team
18 for ’18 Offseason Topics
18: Power 5 Coach Hot Seat Rankings
17: Power 5 Projected Win Totals & Swing Games
16. Best Longshot National Championship Teams
15. Group of 5 vs. Power 5 Upset Alerts
14. Every Power Five Team’s Letdown Game
13. Breakout QBs You Need To Know
12. Already Great Players About To Explode
With the possible exception of Alabama not getting the job done in the SEC, the 2017 season’s Power Five champions – Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, USC and Georgia – were about as chalky as it gets.
It’s hard to bust through and become a P5 champ, and this season could very easily be a repeat of last year. But these five teams have the schedule and make-up to be a factor along the way – even if they don’t win their respective conference titles.
ACC: Pitt Panthers
Pat Narduzzi was supposed to step in and make Pitt the next Michigan State. And it seemed like things were on their way to being just that, with the former Spartan defensive coordinator leading the way to 16 wins in the first two seasons.
Then came a rough Year Three, finishing with a losing run to make this a wee bit of a make-or-break season.
However, this all sounds familiar.
Michigan State under Mark Dantonio won 16 games in his first two seasons – and like Narduzzi and Pitt, lost the first two bowl games, too. And there was a losing-season third season to put the pressure on.
And then Dantonio kicked it in with an 11-win fourth season, and the rest is history.
Okay, okay, okay, that’s a massive leap to assume that Narduzzi is going to make Pitt another powerhouse program that’s ready to be in the mix for conference championships, but …
Narduzzi is supposed to make Pitt another powerhouse program that’s ready to be in the mix for conference championships.
Can the secondary finally start to be up to what Narduzzi wants, and attack, attack, attack? Can the O line replace three starters up front, and will the defense finally be good enough to be a difference-maker in the ACC race?
Dealing with Penn State won’t be easy, and the trips to UCF and Notre Dame won’t be fun, either, but those are obviously not ACC games.
Georgia Tech, at North Carolina, Syracuse, Duke, at Virginia. Those are the first five games in conference play – facing three teams that didn’t go bowling, and two mediocre bowl teams in Duke and Virginia. As long as the Panther offense is working, the Panthers can win all of those, or at least be 4-1.
Virginia Tech is a home game, but going to Wake Forest and Miami won’t be a breeze to close out the regular season.
But Pitt might just be very, very relevant in late November. And then Narduzzi and Pitt become red hot.