Ed. Note: Sorry I took so long to get this out to y'all today. I have been beyond busy this week.
For the Atlantic division last season, things went pretty much as most expected them to: Jameis Winston and Florida State were awesome and went to the ACC Championship, and then on to the National Championship. Will things work out like that again this year? Who knows. With the addition of Louisville, the Atlantic Division will definitely be more competitive.
Florida State was nearly flawless a year ago, as Bill Connelly details in his preview of the Seminoles. They will also be a force again this season, that is, as long as Jameis Winston can stay out of trouble. The Seminoles' biggest losses on offense are Devonta Freeman (leading rusher) and Kelvin Benjamin (second-leading receiver and one of Winston's favorite target). All this to say that Jameis Winston still has plenty of weapons left in Rashad Greene and Nick O'Leary. This is an experienced team that is incredibly good. The biggest change on defense is the guy calling the plays. Former interim-GT DC Charles Kelly will be taking over for Jeremy Pruitt, who left for the dwags after last season. Again, it won't make much of a difference. Kelly was on staff under Pruitt last season, so it shouldn't be a huge shift.
Clemson is in an entirely different boat from Florida State. Clemson lost A LOT from last season. Their biggest losses come from the offensive side of the ball. Among those losses are three of their best players from last year: QB Tajh Boyd, and WRs Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant. A year ago, Boyd completed 68.5% of his passes for 3851 yards and 34 touchdowns. If you remember the game he played against Georgia Tech a year ago, where he put perfect touch on nearly all of his passes, you'll know that Clemson will definitely miss him. Also leaving the team for the draft are WRs Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant. Watkins has been a force for the Tigers since his first season, but last year was definitely his best year. He finished the season with 101 receptions for 1464 yards (14.5 yards/catch) and 12 touchdowns. While Bryant did not have the numbers that Watkins had, one thing he did have was explosiveness. Bryant averaged a total of 19.7 yards/catch last season (which is absolutely ridiculous).
Louisville is the ACC's newest team and is also experiencing a lot of changes from last season, though most of their changes are from the coaching staff. The biggest changes are the departure of Charlie Strong and the addition of former Louisville HC Bobby Petrino. Petrino, who also brought in former uga DC Todd Grantham (and a few former uga players), is set to replace a very good QB in Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater was one of the most efficient QBs last season. He completed 71% of his passes for 3970 yards and 31 TDs while only throwing 4 INTs.
Syracuse should have a good running game this season. Even though they lost their main running back in Jerome Smith, they still have two guys coming back that could both break the 1000-yard mark. The first of those is their starting QB Terrel Hunt. After becoming the starter a season ago, Hunt went on to have a pretty decent year that he will look to improve upon during his senior year. In his 93 carries last year, Hunt averaged over 6 yards/carry and scored 7 TDs. Also helping him out on the ground will be rising-senior Prince-Tyson Gulley. Gulley is a guy that got overshadowed some last season with Jerome Smith being really good, but Gulley is definitely a guy to watch out for this season. Last season, he ran the ball 83 times for 462 yards and 4 TDs. Like Terrel Hunt, he too will be looking to improve upon those numbers during his senior season.
Boston College will be entering their second year under Steve Addazio. They had a good year last year because of a couple factors: Andre Williams rushing for over 2000 yards and an easy schedule. It will be interesting to see how they will perform without Andre Williams carrying the load for them again this season. Also gone from the team last year are starting QB Chase Rettig and WR Alex Amidon, along with some more guys throughout the rest of the very experienced lineup from last season. Right now, Florida-transfer Tyler Murphy is looking to get the starting job at QB. He started six games at Florida before getting hurt and ultimately losing his starting job and transferring and was even named a captain for two of those.
Wake Forest will be entering their first season with new HC Dave Clawson. Clawson is coming over to Wake Forest from Bowling Green. This is not Clawson's first rebuilding job, as Bill Connelly details in his preview of the Demon Deacons. The biggest loss for the Demon Deacons from last season is NT Nikita Whitlock. Whitlock was a very undersized NT that knew how to disrupt plays. He finished the season with 69.5 tackles, 18.0 TFL, 9.0 sacks, and 2 FFs.
NC State will be entering their second year under HC Dave Doeren. After a large infestation of injuries last season, things did not turn out exactly as they had planned, finishing 3-9 last season with an 8-game losing streak to end the season. Looking to be the starting QB this season another Florida-transfer: Jacoby Brissett. After losing the starting job to Jeff Driskel a couple years ago at Florida, Brissett decided a transfer was best for him. And pretty much as soon as the season ended, and Brissett became eligible, he was named the starter for the upcoming season.
Alright, now just like we did yesterday, we're going to move on to predictions. And since y'all wanted me to give explanations, I will be doing that this time. So, here we go.
1. FSU: Wins – 8 (Clemson, NC State, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Louisville, Virginia, Miami, Boston College)
2. Louisville: Wins – 6 (Virginia, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Clemson, NC State, Boston College) Losses – 2 (Miami, FSU)
3. Clemson: Wins – 6 (North Carolina, NC State, Boston College, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech) Losses – 2 (FSU, Louisville)
4. NC State: Wins – 2 (Boston College, Wake Forest) Losses – 5 (Georgia Tech, UNC, FSU, Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse)
5. Boston College: Wins – 2 (Wake Forest, Syracuse) Losses – 6 (VPI, Pitt, FSU, Clemson, Louisville, NC State)
6. Syracuse: Wins – 2 (Wake Forest, NC State) Losses – 6 (Louisville, FSU, Clemson, Duke, Pitt, Boston College)
7. Wake Forest: Wins – 0 Losses – 8 (Louisville, FSU, Syracuse, BC, Clemson, NC State, VPI, Duke)