2022 ACC College Football Team Record Predictions

@CanesFootball on Twitter

2022 ACC College Football Team Record Predictions

Football

2022 ACC College Football Team Record Predictions

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@CanesFootball on Twitter

For the first time in six seasons, it wasn’t Clemson that won the ACC Championship. Instead, it was Pittsburgh who took advantage of the down year from the Tigers to secure the championship. Pittsburgh loses key players like Kenny Pickett to the NFL so this could allow another team to rise to dominance with questions still circulating around the Clemson team. Who will that be? College football analysts Marissa Myers and Harrison Vapnek predict each ACC team’s record with Marissa predicting the Atlantic and Harrison predicting the Coastal. 

 

Atlantic:

N.C. State: 11-1 (7-1 ACC)

Clemson: 9-3 (6-2 ACC)

Wake Forest: 7-5 (4-4 ACC)

Boston College: 7-5 (5-3 ACC)

Florida State: 6-6 (4-4 ACC) 

Syracuse: 5-7 (2-6 ACC)

Louisville: 5-7 (2-6 ACC)

Analysis:

After a 9-3 season a year ago, the N.C. State Wolfpack continue to trend in the right direction. Their NFL-caliber quarterback, Devin Leary is returning to lead the offense that features six other returning starters. One of those key players returning is Leary’s top target in Thayer Thomas. Although their starting running back is off to the NFL, the Wolfpack have another strong one in Jordan Houston. Defensively they return nine starters and get linebacker Payton Wilson back from his injury. The defense if everyone can stay healthy should see improvement even from the 21st-ranked unit they were in 2021. The Wolfpack team is full of experience, they got the upset over Clemson last year and can do it again. The one loss I see happening is to North Carolina after having to face four consecutive ACC opponents after their bye week.

With Clemson, they lost both their offensive and defensive coordinators. The defensive line will be the strongest group with Myles Murphy, Tyler Davis, Xavier Thomas, and Bryan Bresee back from his ACL tear. It’s the offense that will have a major impact on how the season goes for Clemson. DJ Uiagalelei will need to drastically improve his accuracy from the 55.6% completion percentage he had in 2021 and his overall decision-making. If Uiagalelei can’t, unlike last year they have someone behind him in freshman Cade Klubnik who could challenge him. Yet, their top receiver Justyn Ross is gone and Joseph Ngata, Beaux Collins, and E.J. Williams need to show more consistency to stand out. Otherwise, games against the Wolfpack, Miami, and Notre Dame could be tough for Clemson to get into the 10-win range. 

Wake Forest and Boston College both have something in common that will determine their 7-5 seasons and that’s their returning offensive playmakers. Wake Forest gets Sam Hartman back along with receiver A.T. Perry that helped the offense finish with the fourth-most points per game of 41. Boston College gets Phil Jurkovec back at quarterback along with receiver Zay Flowers. Both offenses will be in good shape but it’s their defenses. Wake Forest had the 91st-ranked defense in 2021 and it came down to the offense to outscore teams that they should’ve easily beat. For Boston College, they had a good defense that ranked 31st nationally but will need to have the defensive line find consistency with rushing the passer to help out Josh DeBerry and Jaiden Woodbey in the secondary. 

Mike Norvell had a rough first season in 2020 going 3-6. He was able to slightly improve the team last year to finish 5-7. They have a bend-but-don’t-break defense that returns six starters and acquired a key transfer player in Jared Verse who should make an impact. The Seminoles need their offense to be consistent. Between the dual-threat quarterback Jordan Travis and running back Trey Benson, they should be okay on the ground. It’s the passing game that needs to find more rhythm, and the offensive line needs to be better at pass-blocking. The same questions in the passing game apply to Syracuse. Sean Tucker is a great running back but will need Garrett Shrader to improve his accuracy from the 52.6% completion percentage he had a season ago to make the offense less predictable. Like the Seminoles that starts with the offensive line giving him more time to throw. 

For Louisville, they have Malik Cunningham back at quarterback after he helped lead the offense to average 446.3 yards per game. He will be without two top receivers with Jordan Watkins transferring to Ole Miss and Tyler Harrell transferring to Alabama. The major problem for the Cardinals is having to hope that the talent they acquired in the portal can gel together quickly to improve the defense that allowed a 90% red zone scoring percentage. 

 

Coastal:

Miami: 10-2 (6-2 ACC)

Pittsburgh: 8-4 (5-3 ACC)

North Carolina: 7-5 (4-4 ACC)

Virginia Tech: 6-6 (3-5 ACC)

Virginia: 8-4 (4-4 ACC)

Georgia Tech: 2-10 (1-7 ACC)

Duke: 3-9 (1-7 ACC)

Analysis: 

I’ll go out on a limb and say it for honestly the first time in my young-adult lifetime: “The U” is back. We had flashes in 2013, 2017, and 2020, but all of those seasons were overachieving teams whose season ended in crashing down fashion (those teams went 0-3 in their bowl games). Now the 2022 Hurricanes, went all-in on the coaching staff, taking head coach Mario Cristobal from Oregon, a coach who has won 74% of his games since taking over full-time in 2018. They brought in offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, the 2021 Broyles Award winner for the best assistant coach in college football, who transformed Michigan’s offense into a championship contender. Alongside new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, one of the better, veteran defensive coordinators in the sport. 

Oh yeah, Miami also has the BEST quarterback in the ACC in Tyler Van Dyke, who in his final six starts last season went 5-1 and threw for 366 yards per game with a 20-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Miami has a strong, young receiving core who broke out when Van Dyke improved in the late-season stretch. Key’Shawn Smith, Xavier Restrepo, and Jacolby George will all be true sophomores, and combining that with senior tight end Will Mallory and Clemson transfer wide receiver Frank Ladson, makes for an exciting weapon core. The Hurricanes have depth on the defensive line and a strong secondary led by Tyrique Stevenson, James Williams, and Avante Williams is one of the best in the conference and will look that way against a weak ACC division. Miami will be in playoff contention into November this season and should win the Coastal for the second time ever. 

2021 was a year to remember in Pittsburgh. Kenny Pickett was a Heisman candidate, Jordan Addison played like one of the best wide receivers in college football, and the Panthers rolled through the ACC and won the conference championship, before falling to Michigan State in a close game. I would be surprised if Pittsburgh is able to replicate last season. Kedon Slovis is the new man at the helm at quarterback. Slovis was strong in his early years at USC, but regressed heavily in 2021, throwing for just 2,153 yards, 11 touchdowns, and eight interceptions, before being replaced. Jordan Addison is now at Slovis’ former school at USC, and the Panthers will have immense trouble replacing him. Senior wide receiver Jared Wayne is now their top target, coming off a season where he hauled in 658 yards and six scores. Keep an eye out on Akron transfer wide receiver Konata Mumpfield, who was a freshman All-American last season. On the defensive side, the Panthers return a lot of productivity. Pittsburgh ranked second in the NCAA in sacks and return key pieces in Calijah Kancey, Habakkuk Baldonado, David Green, and Deslin Alexandre to make up one of the best defensive lines in the sport. Their secondary was fairly weak last year and still has major question marks. Pittsburgh has a strong defense, but there will be times in 2022 where it’s an inconsistent offense that holds them back from repeating in the ACC.

There’s a huge dropoff from Pittsburgh to North Carolina. Last year was a major disappointment for the Tar Heels, finishing 6-7. Quarterback Sam Howell is gone to the NFL, so the competition for his replacement will be between Drake Maye and Jacolby Criswell. I think there is a strong chance that Mack Brown uses a two-quarterback system between the two, until one pulls away. Josh Downs is one of the best wide receivers in America so he’ll be there to help out whoever is throwing him the ball. UNC added defensive coordinator and former Auburn national championship coach Gene Chizik, who will be asked to lead a very young defense with high potential. 

Virginia is the major wild card of the group. The Cavaliers had one of the worst defenses in college football last year, ranking at 104th in points per game allowed, 121st in yards per game, and 123rd in rushing yards allowed. They added defensive coordinator John Rudzinski from Air Force to improve that side of the ball, who had been at Air Force on their staff since 2010. However, it’s the offensive side of the ball where things get interesting for Virginia. Brennan Armstrong was statistically one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, throwing for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns. Top receivers Billy Kemp IV and Dontayvion Wicks are back, combine that with new head coach Tony Elliott (former Clemson offensive coordinator), the offense will be electric and score some points.

Virginia Tech has a quarterback issue. Braxton Burmeister is gone and there is an open competition between transfers Grant Wells (Marshall) and Jason Brown (South Carolina). There’s not a lot of talent returning offensively but the defense should be solid led by Alan Tisdale and Dax Hollifield. New head coach Brent Pry will have his work cut out for him, but this team could make a bowl game next year,

Georgia Tech and Duke are two of the worst teams in Power Five football and the bottom feeders in the conference. The only reason I gave these two teams a win in conference play is because they play each other. Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims isn’t terrible, that’s about it for them. I would point out the other bright spots on either roster, but I can’t quite find them. I would like to see one of these teams surprise. 

Championship Prediction:

N.C. State vs Miami

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