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WATCHING FOOTBALL: ACC 2020 Season Preview

Who will succeed? Who will fall flat? Is a season even going to happen? I'll break it down.

The Avengers is a movie masterpiece. I’m still amazed at just how well the whole apparatus clicks into place, all these disparate, strong characters in the same place, no one overshadowing anyone.

The script is why. It’s full of gems, but early in the film super-spy and SHIELD Director Nick Fury asks one of his agents to load some prototype weapons onto a truck as their secret base is about to collapse. The agent asks whether that’s really a priority.

Scowling, Nick retorts: “Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it means to spin on.”

That’s where we are right now with college football. For another week or so, we don’t know for sure what most of the major conferences will do this fall. So we’re just going to operate like the season’s happening as scheduled.

(And hey, if you ask me, I think it will.)

Right now, the ACC is widely expected to play a 10-game, conference-only-plus-Notre-Dame schedule this fall. If you recall, that’s almost exactly what I said they would do last week.

If you want to stay up to date on everything college football related (including COVID news), feel free to follow me on Twitter here! I regularly post updates before, during, and after the season.

So how’s that gonna work out for the ACC’s teams? Well, here’s who I think will win it all, surprise their fans, and disappoint diehards this year.


CHAMPION: Clemson

I recently described the Atlantic Coast Conference as a collection of dumpster fires and also Clemson. Perhaps that’s not completely fair, but it’s close. It’s not particularly difficult to predict the Tigers will win the ACC. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, he of the flowing blond locks, is probably the Heisman frontrunner. He’s bolstered by Travis Etienne at running back, and if they falter, a loaded and experienced defensive unit will keep them in every game. Their only question mark is at WR, but someone will step up. Clemson should win every regular season game this year by double digits.

RUNNER UP: North Carolina

Is this the return of the Mack? Coach Brown’s back to his old self, coaching the Tar Heels out of meh-ness and right into the conference title conversation. UNC returns a strong defensive backfield and a solid receiving corps. Their veteran OL should keep the average weak-sauce ACC blitz off of their experienced QB. This balanced squad means business.

DARK HORSE: Virginia Tech

In this slot, I feature a team that could make a run at the top of the conference if things work out well. Two things need to happen for the Hokies to vault them into that position. First, QB Hendon Hooker needs to show serious improvement from his flawed prior season. That’s certainly possible, even likely. And second, new defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton needs to mesh with his veteran-laden squad and get them hitting at a high level. If that happens, VT’s on track to surprise.

DISAPPOINTMENT: Florida State

As usual, the media is way too high on the Noles. Yes, they’re bringing back 10 defensive starters. Whoop-de-doo. That D was awful last year. A first-year head coach and a ton of young talent likely means FSU is headed for a rebuilding year.

LOSER: Syracuse

I don’t see much reason for Orange optimism. Syracuse pulled the desperation card out by hiring new coordinators on both sides of the ball. But terrible offensive line play looks likely to continue this year, which means signal-caller Tommy DeVito will be constantly rattled. I doubt they’ll win enough to make a bowl. This is probably head coach Dino Babers’s last year.


Next week we take a look at the Big 10! You can follow me on Twitter here in the meantime, if you fancy. Let me know how you think this strange season will play out. And as always, happy watching!

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