The ACC was the breakout league in 2017 and by some computer metrics they even equaled the SEC. I don’t expect the conference to have that same success this year because a few teams will probably take some steps back from graduation, injury, etc. Still, the ACC is a strong league from top to bottom and will have many fearsome teams.
Playoff Favorites: Florida State, Clemson
Florida State is everybody’s favorite to win the ACC, though the Seminoles are hamstrung with their early game against Alabama. If they lose that game, and I think they will, they’ll more or less have to go undefeated to assure a spot in the Playoff. They haven’t put a two-loss team in yet so it’s better to be safe than sorry and beat Clemson. Speaking of, the Tigers, despite being the defending champions, aren’t favored but they’re the easy #2 in the league. They lost a great deal of talent to the draft so they’ll be on the defensive when FSU comes to town. But if they’re good enough to beat Florida State they’ll be good enough to make the Playoff for the third year in a row.
The Dark Horses: Louisville, Miami FL, Virginia Tech
Louisville is probably better than either Miami or Virginia Tech but they’re in the wrong division. I think they could beat either Clemson or FSU but to beat both and take the division is unlikely. I just pray we don’t get a three-way tie. Ugh, that’ll make things complicated. Over in the Coastal, everybody is comfortable deciding that the division race will for once be clean and simple. It’s been a while. Miami and VA Tech have the talent and the schedules to win 11 games, maybe more than that if they really dial in. The Atlantic will still certainly be favored to take the crown, but I think this is the best year for the Coastal to win the Championship since 2011.
The Middle Class: Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, NC State, North Carolina
All these teams should be solid, how solid they’ll be remains to be seen. Pitt and UNC will probably regress but I’m not sure how much. Georgia Tech is always a wild card. NC State is getting a lot of popular buzz as a dark horse, but they’re in the wrong division to do anything.
The Bottom Tier: Syracuse, Boston College, Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia
I’d wager that two of these teams go bowling and two won’t. That’s not a bold pick but it feels right. Syracuse is probably on the rise but it’s a tough hill to climb. BC and Duke are probably just a bit too depleted to compete. Wake and Virginia might be better in 2018 but it’s pretty doubtful for 2017.