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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Latest College Football News & Rumors / ACC Football Power Rankings: Will Florida State over take Clemson? 6/14/23

ACC Football Power Rankings: Will Florida State over take Clemson? 6/14/23

Publish Date: 06/14/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is in transition as it transitions to a division-less model for next season, raising stakes and tightening competition for conference supremacy. Clemson won seven out of eight titles over this past eight-year span. It seems they have a serious contender to their throne in the Florida State Seminoles.

 

14) Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia finished last in scoring last season at 17.0 points per game and has suffered major setbacks this offseason due to the departures of quarterback Brennan Armstrong, receivers Billy Kemp IV, Keytaon Thompson and Dontayvion Wicks and one starter on its offensive line (Aaron Odom). Virginia has also seen attrition on defense, losing Fentrell Cypress II (cornerback) and Nick Jackson (linebacker) via transfer portal; head coach Tony Elliott will have an uphill task ahead of him in year two.

13) Boston College Eagles

The Eagles finished in the bottom three of total offense and defense in last season’s Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). On defense, Sean Duggan and Aazaar Abdul-Rahim were elevated to co-defensive coordinator positions with veteran corps such as cornerback Elijah Jones, defensive tackle Khris Banks, linebackers Vinny DePalma and Kam Arnold returning, and second-team All-ACC edge Donovan Ezeiruaku coming back. On offense, however, their offensive line allowed an average of 3.8 sacks per game last season.

12) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Georgia Tech finished third-to-last on both offense and defense this past season. Hiring former Georgia offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner as offensive coordinator and acquiring Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King through the transfer portal have put their offense on a positive trend. At the same time, their defensive unit must replace four key contributors from last season, such as Ayinde Eley (leading tackler), starting corner Zamari Walton and Keion White (best pass rusher).

11) Syracuse Orangemen

Oronde Gadsden II, the league-leader in receiving yards, and Garrett Shrader, who underwent right arm surgery this spring and missed most of the spring practice, are back for Syracuse this season. However, their offense suffered with Sean Tucker leaving, three offensive line starters departing, and three in the secondary, including All-ACC cornerback Garrett Williams (NFL). Syracuse took a massive hit defensively as three starters, including All-ACC cornerback Garrett Williams left, and three starters on offense depart.

10) Virginia Tech Hokies

Virginia Tech experienced its lowest win total since 1992 last season and will set out to improve on the second-worst passing offense by adding former Baylor quarterback Kyron Drones as competition against incumbent Grant Wells (nine touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2022). Their rushing attack should also see significant improvement after averaging 110.8 yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry – two marks that placed second among ACC schools last season – though North Carolina A&T transfer Bhayshul Tuten’s 1,363-yard average last season might help as he averaged 6.66 per carry. But with several holes on defense, bowl games may prove too difficult this season for them.

9) Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Dave Clawson’s decision not to add defensive backs was all the more surprising, considering their Demon Deacons had one of the highest passing yards allowed per game totals in the nation last season (279.2) which ranked 121st in the nation. Losing Sam Hartman, one of ACC history’s top passers, to Notre Dame was another blow; however, sophomore Mitch Griffis is already showing promise against FCS VMI in Week 1 and completed 19-of-29 passes for 300 yards during their spring game performance.

8) Pittsburgh Panthers

Phil Jurkovec hasn’t looked the part since his debut year at Boston College in 2020 but could return to form under former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, this offseason they lost two key offensive playmakers with running back Israel Abanikanda and wide receiver Jared Wayne moving onto NFL rosters, along with losing Calijah Kancey and SirVocea Dennis as defensive sack leaders; Pat Narduzzi remains one of the premier coaches in the league but may face one of his toughest tests to date as Pitt faces significant opposition this fall from winning teams on their schedule!

7) Duke Blue Devils

Head Coach Mike Elko has Duke on an upswing as a program, though they may struggle to recapture last season’s nine-4 finish with such an aggressive 2023 schedule as Clemson, Notre Dame, NC State and Florida State all scheduled. On the positive side, however, Duke returns nine starters on offense, including star quarterback Riley Leonard; also, they should make strides defensively under new coordinator Tyler Santucci.

6) Louisville Cardinals

Louisville made significant strides this offseason to transform its program. They hired former Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm and Brian Brohm – his brother being their offensive coordinator – as replacements for Scott Satterfield and Lance Taylor, then added former Cal quarterback Jack Plummer along with four pass catchers from the transfer portal, including four-star Jamari Thrash. Fans should be excited for Brohm’s direction of Louisville’s program – especially once former Cal quarterback Jack Plummer arrives!

5) North Carolina State Wolfpack

NC State was among the favorites to win the ACC last season but ultimately fell to 4-4 in conference play due to multiple quarterback injuries and head coach Dave Doeren acquiring Virginia transfer Brennan Armstrong as an insurance policy against further injuries at quarterback. NC State is still uncertain about its offensive capabilities due to losing two leading receivers from 2022 as well as two All-ACC offensive linemen Grant Gibson and Chandler Zavala; on defense though they look set for another strong season with six returning starters including linebacker Payton Wilson returning as six starters return in total from last season’s team of eight starters from last season returning including linebacker Payton Wilson returning.

4) North Carolina Tar Heels

UNC may possess the ACC’s top offensive talent in Drake Maye, but what other weapons does UNC possess on offense?  Defense may have lost ten players through graduation and transfer portal, yet that may turn out to be beneficial after finishing last in terms of yards and points allowed in its conference last season. Transfer wide receivers Devontez Walker and Nate McCollum should become instant contributors, while junior Bryson Nesbit may quickly climb draft boards this fall. According to spring reports, transfer cornerback Alijah Huzzie should prove an improvement for UNC at this position;. At the same time, former Florida State linebacker Amari Gainer should instantly add depth to a pass rush that only managed 17 sacks last season.

Video: Best Freshman QB in College Football 🔥 Drake Maye 2022 UNC Highlights

Best Freshman QB in College Football 🔥 Drake Maye 2022 UNC Highlights

3) Miami Hurricanes

Miami finished fifth in the ACC in passing yards per game last season (241.3). It should take another step forward under new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who guided Houston to a top-20 scoring offense last season. Tyler Van Dyke will return at quarterback behind an improved offensive line that has added two four-star transfers and five five-star recruits on its recruiting trail; Miami also returns seven starters on defense while adding two top 100 recruits along their defensive line and six transfers.

Video: Tyler Van Dyke 2022 Regular Season Highlights | Miami QB

Tyler Van Dyke 2022 Regular Season Highlights | Miami QB

2) Clemson Tigers

Clemson could clinch their eighth Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship in nine seasons, as their defense appears poised for greatness and could finish among the nation’s best. Questions remain on Cade Klubnik being the conference’s next great quarterback following an inconsistent showing at Orange Bowl. New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley may help alleviate these worries throughout the offseason before Clemson makes another run at winning this fall.

Video: Cade Klubnik 2022 Regular Season Highlights | Clemson QB

Cade Klubnik 2022 Regular Season Highlights | Clemson QB

1) Florida State Seminoles

Florida State is poised to claim their first conference crown since 2014 this season under Mike Norvell’s tutelage, marking a remarkable comeback within three seasons. Florida State returns eight starters on offense, including All-ACC performers such as quarterback Jordan Travis, running back Trey Benson and wide receiver Johnny Wilson. Florida State returns four starters on the offensive line while adding three new members from the transfer portal. Florida State has brought back nine starters on defense, including top-5 NFL Draft prospect Jared Verse who notched 48 tackles, 17.0 tackles for loss and nine sacks while earning first-team All-ACC honors last season. Thanks to its run defense improvements, Florida State appears poised for a Conference Championship victory and possibly a College Football Playoff berth.

Video: Jordan Travis 🔥 Most Elite QB in College Football ᴴᴰ

Jordan Travis 🔥 Most Elite QB in College Football ᴴᴰ

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