The Atlantic Coast Conference gets its fair share of hate for being a lackluster football conference, and whether that talk is warranted or not is up to you.
But that conversation will stop this season.
The ACC is absolutely loaded with talent and multiple great teams near the top of the college football landscape heading into 2022. The conference is coming off a different type of season in which neither Clemson nor Florida State were the champion for the first time since 2010. Pittsburgh defeated Wake Forest to take the title this past season. Let’s dive into each division and highlight the various teams that could meet up in Charlotte, North Carolina for the ACC Championship and even have the chance to make some national noise.
Pittsburgh headlines the top of the Coastal, as they won the division this last season. Pittsburgh returns 15 of their 22 starters from last season including all five offensive linemen and six All-ACC selections on defense. Their defensive line is among the best in all of FBS and ranked second nationally in sacks per game last season. They bring in a new quarterback in Kedon Slovis to compete with Nick Patti for the starting job. They will have to attempt to replace wide receiver Jordan Addison, who transferred to USC. Nonetheless, the team still has more than capable options. Akron transfer Konata Mumpfield was a freshman All-American last season and will take on a lot of the load, as well as Gavin Bartholomew at tight end and senior Jared Wayne.
Miami will look to capitalize off their third head coach since 2016 with Mario Cristobal at the helm. Tyler Van Dyke finished the season with six straight games of at least 315 passing yards and three passing touchdowns and will be a star for the Hurricanes. They return three offensive linemen but have two record-setting receivers leaving the program in Mike Harley and Charleston Rambo. Cristobal has a young defense in his first year for the program but has been working the transfer portal to get the Hurricanes even better for this season.
Clemson still has question marks at quarterback as they are unsure about D.J. Uiagalelei after a rough 2021 season. A deep backfield led by rising star Will Shipley is the strength of this offense. The Tigers bring back four starters on the offensive line but an inconsistent receiving corps as well. A deep defensive line anchored by Tyler Davis, Bryan Bresee, and Myles Murphy, along with rising stars at linebacker (Trenton Simpson) and safety (Andrew Mukuba) could make for the best defense in college football this fall.
N.C. State is getting the most national hype out of any ACC team going into 2022. The Wolfpack returns the most starters (17) of any team in the ACC from a team that went 9-3 last fall. Quarterback Devin Leary is a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate as he threw for 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions last season. N.C. State also boasts one of the nation’s top linebacker units anchored by Payton Wilson and Drake Thomas. This might be the most complete team in the ACC.
Wake Forest is the defending champion of the Atlantic Division and should be in the mix again this season. Sam Hartman returns looking for revenge after he lead the Demon Deacon offense to 41 points per game in 2021. All receivers except for Jaquarii Robinson return and they also get four of their five offensive linemen back. But Wake’s biggest issue was the defense and it is still a question mark this season.
Outside of these five teams, North Carolina has been getting some national love, being ranked in some Top-25s with the emergence of Josh Downs but lost Sam Howell. Virginia returns Brennan Armstrong but lost all five of last year’s offensive linemen.
Anthony Ravasio is a writer for TWSN and a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He also works with Overtime doing digital content creation and more writing. In his downtime, you can find Anthony watching sports, enjoying his time with friends or family, or tracking his bets on Action (or all three at once). You can find TWSN on Twitter @TWSN___ and Instagram @twsn___. You can find Anthony on Twitter @anthonyravasio or Instagram @ravasiosports as well.