The college football season is finally underway. Last season, Florida State represented the ACC in the first ever college football playoff. Will there be a new champion representing the conference this year?
Lets take a look at my top 5 teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
5.) Virginia Tech (0-1) Coastal Division
I had Virginia Tech at number four before the loss of quarterback Michael Brewer. It has been reported that the senior signal caller will be out 4-5 weeks. If the diagnosis is correct, Brewer could be back just in time for a matchup with North Carolina State. Brewer will miss games against Furman, Purdue, East Carolina and Pittsburgh. A devastating blow, but those are all winnalbe games for the Hokies.
For Virginia Tech to have any chance, they need to get production from the quarterback position. Brenden Motley does not look like the answer and Frank Beamer may want to give true freshman Dwayne Lawson a shot.
The defense will once again be called upon to step up in a big way. That side of the ball is loaded with NFL talent like Dadi Nicolas, Ken Ekanem and Kendall Fuller. This Hokies team has a goal to win the ACC.
The next few weeks will determine if this team can regroup or if they will throw in the towel.
4.) North Carolina State (1-0) Atlantic Division
I don’t think North Carolina State has a chance to make it to the ACC championship game, but they are at least one of the five best teams in the conference. I also believe if head coach Dave Doeren doesn’t show some serious improvement, then he will be gone after this season. After two years in Raleigh, he has an under .500 record of 11-14.
Redshirt senior Jacoby Brisett will lead the Wolfpack under center and has to play with more consistency if NC State has any chance to win the Atlantic Division.
Doeren has six starters returning on offense and eight on defense. The offense had one of the more balanced attacks a year ago and should have no problem putting points on the board.
On defense, North Carolina State has depth and experience to be much better than in 2014.
The Wolfpack have matchups with Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Florida State on their schedule. If NC State ever had a chance to win the ACC crown, it would be this season.
3.) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-0) Coastal Division
Paul Johnson might have his most talented team ever since he has been at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have one thing on their mind and that’s getting back to the ACC championship game.
The offense will be lead by Justin Thomas. The redshirt junior has the speed and elusiveness to wreak havoc on the conference. There were some questions at the running back position, but I think Johnson found his man in Marcus Marshall. The 5-foot-10 200 pound back put up 184 yards on just eight carries this past weekend.
Georgia Tech also returns four starters on the offensive line that should provide plenty of running space for Johnson’s offense.
The Yellow Jackets have some concerns on defense after losing All-ACC linebacker Quayshawn Nealy and are hoping to get more production from senior Tyler Marcordes.
2.) Florida State Seminoles (1-0) Atlantic Division
Florida State has been in position to compete for a national championship each of the past two seasons. Jameis Winston is now in the NFL and head coach Jimbo Fisher will now turn to Notre Dame castoff Everett Golson to lead his offense.
The former Irish quarterback had one great season as a freshman and was unable to duplicate that in 2014 after returning from a suspension the previous year. He is not the answer Seminole fans think he is.
Fisher and his staff must also replace four starters on the offensive line.
According to college football analyst Phil Steele, the Seminoles have the second fewest line starts in the nation. Sophomore running back Dalvin Cook is expected to have a big year, but will need the big boys upfront to provide him room to run.
On defense, there is much more depth and experience than the offensive side of the ball. Led by cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Florida State will rely on their defense much more than in previous years.
The Seminoles won’t really be tested until October 24th against Georgia Tech. They should enter that game undefeated.
1.) Clemson Tigers (1-0) Atlantic Division
In hindsight, it would be easy to put FSU in the number one spot. However, I don’t think they are the best team. Clemson is at the top because of quarterback Deshaun Watson. Through eight games last season, Watson threw for over 1400 yards, 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
The offense will miss wide receiver Mike Williams if he is out for a long period of time, but they have enough depth at the position to fill the void.
Head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff has put together a talented roster and should be able to replace key pieces on the defensive side from a year ago.
Clemson will be tested in the next few weeks with matchups against Louisville and Notre Dame.
What do you think of the current landscape of the ACC? Sound off in the comments section below with your thoughts and rankings of your own.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports