The ACC has quickly become the second best football conference in America behind the SEC, in large part to Clemson’s dominance on the national stage during the past few seasons. While the conference has gained a nation-wide prestige, there has not been much doubt about who will come out on top of the ACC at the end of the season.
Clemson’s run at greatness has done great things for the ACC, but other teams will eventually have to compete with the Tigers to make the conference top-level from top-to-bottom. These are some teams who have a chance at knocking Clemson off of their perch.
The U has been down for a while, but the program is hoping to take a massive leap forwards under new head coach Manny Diaz. Diaz, who served as the defensive coordinator under Mark Richt last season, was at the center of an off-season controversy after Diaz allegedly took the Temple job, but ditched Philly for South Beach after Richt resigned.
The Hurricanes have been great on the defensive side of the ball for a while, with recent draft picks including Jaquan Johnson and Joe Jackson going in last year’s draft, and Chad Thomas the year prior to that. It really seems as if Miami has just been waiting for a quarterback who can take them to the next level. It seems that the school has found their man in transfer Tate Martell.
Martell moved on from Ohio State after the Justin Fields’ arrival in Columbus, fearing that he would not get playing time behind the stud freshman. However, Martell is undoubtedly a great talent, and with a top-tier defense and an exciting young coach, the Hurricanes will hope to return The U to its heyday.
Syracuse was a surprise team to finish second in the ACC Atlantic behind Clemson last season, but great quarterback play by current New York Giant Eric Dungey helped propel the Orange to great heights. Coming off a season in which a team loses their star quarterback, it might be difficult to be optimistic. However, hopes are high as ‘Cuse welcomes in Tommy DeVito.
Despite only being a sophomore, DeVito’s ceiling is high, with some even purporting him to be a Heisman sleeper. DeVito was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and playing in a pro-style offense certainly helped him prepare for life in the NCAA. If DeVito can live up to the hype, he might be able to rival Trevor Lawrence at the top of the conference.
The Eagles were a popular dark horse pick in the ACC last season, but injuries and subpar quarterback play hampered their season. Star running back AJ Dillon was not 100 percent for a majority of last year, and his lack of production showed it. However, with an entire offseason of rest, Dillon should be back to his normal self.
The main area of concern for BC going into the season is almost certainly the talent lost on defense. Zach Allen and Will Harris both departed in the draft, and a slew of talented linemen and defensive backs entered the NFL through free-agency as well. While the offense should improve significantly if Dillon can return to normal, the defensive side of the ball is going to be very interesting for the Eagles this season.