The 2018 ACC Preview with the Game of the Year, Players of the Year, top pro prospects, big-time players who deserve a bigger spotlight, and more.
Preview 2018: ACC Preview
Really, find the weak link in the ACC this year.
Where’s the ACC’s Kansas? Where’s its Oregon State, Rutgers or Vanderbilt?
Where’s that one true free-space, week off game that everyone automatically can pencil in as a sure-thing, go-through-the-motions win?
Syracuse? You mean the team that beat Clemson last year? Yeah, the Orange lost every game from then on, and the defense is still going to be a rumor under Dino Babers, but it’s a good enough team to go bowling.
Duke? Nope – this is a strong, veteran team with some All-ACC stars to work around.
Wake Forest? Not anymore, with Dave Clawson cranking up fun and dangerous offenses.
North Carolina appears to have had just a one year hiccup, and even if last year’s clunker wasn’t an aberration, this is still going to be a good enough team to beat anyone on the schedule on the right day. The same goes for Georgia Tech and Pitt – two of just the four ACC teams that didn’t go bowling.
Virginia? It’s a tough out now under Bronco Mendenhall, and it should be even more of a factor with another good defense along with a fun quarterback transfer in Bryce Perkins.
Boston College? After what it did going on a big run over the second half of last season, this is that proverbial Team No One Wants To Face – as long as the quarterback situation is fine.
On the flip side, other than Clemson and Miami – and to a certain extent, a slightly rebuilding Florida State and Virginia Tech – there might not be a whole lot of killers up top, and the midsection is full of more 6-6 fight-for-a-bowl level teams – not including NC State and Louisville – than ones that could challenge for the championship. But the bottom line is the old, tired cliché …
When it comes to the ACC, it really is going to be an Any Given Saturday season.
When all is said and done, it’ll be a massive failure if Clemson doesn’t win a fourth straight ACC title and go back to another College Football Playoff. But along the way, the rest of the league is good enough to make it a difficult and wild run.
ACC Team That Will Surprise
Duke Blue Devils
There’s not going to be a run to the ACC Championship game like there was in 2013, but this might be David Cutcliffe’s best Blue Devil team yet, starting with national all-star talents in CB Mark Gilbert and LB Joe Giles-Harris. Even with trips to Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech, Duke should be a dangerous team that should get back to a bowl with ease.
ACC Team That Will Disappoint
After last year, the assumption is that Miami is about to take the next step up and go from being ACC Championship game good to College Football Playoff great. The defense will fabulous, and the offensive backfield will be good enough, but for a team with massive expectations, there could be a problem with LSU to start the season, road trips to Boston College, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech late, and a dangerous home date against Florida State. It’ll still be a great year, but 10-2 or 9-3 will be a disappointment.