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2022 ACC Season Preview

(Mandatory Photo Credit: Al Diaz / Miami Herald)

Written By: Joseph Yun

The ACC continued its decline as a premier conference as perennial favorites Clemson suffered through a downturn in fortunes. In its stead, rose a high-powered Pittsburgh attack led by a first-round draft selection, Kenny Pickett. Plucky Wake Forest made its usual once in a three (four) year magical run. A raft of new head coaches make their debut in 2022, some from familiar stomping grounds. What will be in store as conference juggernauts Clemson and long dormant Florida State look to revive their historical greatness? Will there be a team to stop the annual merry-go-round that is the ACC Coastal? Who are the next great stars to make their way to the big leagues like the aforementioned Pickett and Jermaine Johnson II?

Note: All games are listed as Saturday unless otherwise noted


Boston College (@BCFootball)

Sep 3 HOME vs. Rutgers (W)

Sep 10 AWAY @ Virginia Tech (W)

Sep 17 HOME vs. Maine (W)

Sep 24 AWAY @ Florida State (L)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Louisville (W)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Clemson (L)

Oct 15 BYE

Oct 22 AWAY @ Wake Forest (L)

Oct 29 AWAY @ UCONN (W)

Nov 4 (Fri.) HOME vs. Duke (W)

Nov 12 AWAY @ NC State (L)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Notre Dame (L)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Syracuse (W)

Predicted Record: 7-5

- The third campaign under promising head coach Jeff Hafley begins anew with several key pieces back in play for the Golden Eagles. Of course, they have to replace several draft picks along the line, including Senior Bowl standout and first-round selection Zion Johnson. QB Phil Jurcovec has the potential to be a first-round pick himself. Receiver Zay Flowers returns as one of the best at his position in the conference. Notre Dame transfer tight end George Takacs comes in to replace the departed Hunter Long. Defensively, former FSU transfer safety Jaiden Lars-Woodbey and Kam Arnold return. Schedule-wise, the non-conference slate is feasible. The opener against Rutgers has the potential to be sneaky competitive. September could be an undefeated one but likely 3-1. November is brutal with away games to NC State and Notre Dame sandwiched between two winnable home dates. Look for BC to muster enough offense to go a touch above bowl eligibility with the potential to compete for the division title.

Clemson (@ClemsonFB)

Sep 5 (Mon.) AWAY @ Georgia Tech (“Neutral” Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta) (W)

Sep 10 HOME vs. Furman (W)

Sep 17 HOME vs. Louisiana Tech (W)

Sep 24 AWAY @ Wake Forest (W)

Oct 1 HOME vs. NC State (W)

Oct 8 AWAY @ Boston College (W)

Oct 15 AWAY @ Florida State (L)

Oct 22 HOME vs. Syracuse (W)

Oct 29 BYE

Nov 5 AWAY @ Notre Dame (L)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Louisville (W)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Miami (W)

Nov 26 HOME vs. South Carolina (W)

Predicted Record: 10-2

- The biggest question for the Tigers after a non-conference championship season is how long can DJ U hold off the mega-hyped five-star Cade Klubnik? DJ had an inconsistent season taking over as the anointed one after Trevor Lawrence took his talents to Jacksonville. They open the season in Atlanta against Georgia Tech. Dabo Swinney used to boast seemingly eternal staff continuity but no more. Both Tony Elliott (Virginia) and Brent Venables (Oklahoma) left for deserved head coaching jobs in the offseason. How will they replace much of their secondary? Fortunately, they return arguably the best EDGE duo in the nation, Myles Murphy and Xavier Thomas are mooted to be early-round draft selections next April. Defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and linebacker Trenton Simpson will likely play a large role in that. Will it be enough to render a return to Charlotte? The schedule is absurdly easy in September while it gets harsh in November. October will feature key division swing games with away dates against Florida State and Boston College.

Florida State (@FSUFootball)

Aug 27 HOME vs. Duquesne (W)

Sep 4 (Sun.) Neutral vs. LSU (Caesar’s Superdome) (L)

Sep 10 BYE

Sep 16 (Fri.) AWAY @ Louisville (L)

Sep 24 HOME vs. Boston College (W)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Wake Forest (L)

Oct 8 AWAY @ NC State (L)

Oct 15 HOME vs. Clemson (L)

Oct 22 BYE

Oct 29 HOME vs. Georgia Tech (W)

Nov 5 HOME vs. Miami (W)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Syracuse (W)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Louisiana (W)

Nov 25 (Fri.) HOME vs. Florida (W)

Predicted Record: 7-5

- Florida State is still in the midst of a rebuilding slog in year three of the Mike Norvell regime. Last season was full of close losses. The Seminoles brought in a slew of transfers after the immense success of Jermaine Johnson II that resulted in a first-round selection. Transfers such as Mycah Pittman, Kayden Lyles, Trey Benson, Johnny Wilson, and Jared Verse. They will be expected to play a large role in determining the 2022 campaign alongside presumptive quarterback starter Jordan Travis. The defense, while losing the aforementioned Johnson returns a ton of quality assets like Fabian Lovett, Jammie Robinson, Robert Cooper, and Amari Gainer to name a few. The schedule isn’t too tough with Clemson, Miami, and Florida having to come to Tallahassee. Of course, there is the “neutral” but really away date in New Orleans against LSU to manage but it's early and the Bayou Bengals are retooling. October will go a long way in determining their fate in the Atlantic division. Norvell’s men are fortunate in that they get a tuneup game against Duquesne (we said this about Jacksonville State last year but look how that turned out) before LSU. Also forebodingly positive is that they get a free preview of Billy Napier’s offense the week prior to the Florida game in the form of the Ragin Cajuns. There’s enough talent and schedule breaks to go along with some luck for this team to achieve seven or eight wins provided they don’t trip on any landmines (cough, GT and Syracuse, cough). Second place in the division will be a sign of progression for Norvell’s fourth year in 2023.

Louisville (@LouisvilleFB)

Sep 3 AWAY @ Syracuse (W)

Sep 9 (Fri.) AWAY @ UCF (W)

Sep 16 (Fri.) HOME vs. Florida State (W)

Sep 24 HOME @ USF (W)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Boston College (W)

Oct 8 AWAY @ Virginia (L)

Oct 15 BYE

Oct 22 HOME vs. Pittsburgh (W)

Oct 29 HOME vs. Wake Forest (L)

Nov 5 HOME vs. James Madison (W)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Clemson (L)

Nov 19 HOME vs. NC State (L)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Kentucky (L)

Predicted Record: 7-5

- Louisville has one of the more interesting schedules in the country in terms of home and away splits. They also take on both sides of the I-4 rivalry (USF vs. UCF) in the same month. On top of that, they play three consecutive state of Florida programs to finish out September. Facing the perennial FCS power James Madison sandwiched between Atlantic division holders Wake Forest and Clemson is quite a quirk. Closing five of six games at home will go a long way after opening four of six on the road before the bye. Key swing dates include away to Boston College and home to NC State. The Cardinals have a lot of talent on offense such as QB Malik Cunningham, Jalen Mitchell, and Dee Wiggins (Miami transfer). Defensively is where they have the most draftable talent on the roster with YaYa Diaby, Jermayne Lole (Arizona State), Mohamed Sanogo (Ole Miss), Jarvis Brownlee (Florida State), and MJ Griffin (Temple). There’s enough talent for the Cardinals to compete for the division title. They get a ton of schedule breaks in terms of opponents having to fight it out before or after. Breaks such as Clemson facing Notre Dame on the road and Miami after. Boston College playing Florida State and Clemson before and after. Wake having to play BC and NC State before and after. Expect a .500 season for Scott Satterfield’s guys.

North Carolina State (@PackFootball)

Sep 3 AWAY @ East Carolina (W)

Sep 10 HOME vs. Charleston Southern (W)

Sep 17 HOME vs. Texas Tech (L)

Sep 24 HOME vs. UCONN (W)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Clemson (L)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Florida State (W)

Oct 15 AWAY @ Syracuse (W)

Oct 22 BYE

Oct 27 (Thurs.) HOME vs. Virginia Tech (W)

Nov 5 HOME vs. Wake Forest (L)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Boston College (W)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Louisville (W)

Nov 25 (Fri.) AWAY @ North Carolina (L)

Predicted Record: 8-4

- The OOC slate is comically easy for the Wolfpack with Texas Tech providing the lone challenge. At the very least, they can trade notes with the Orange on a common September foe in UCONN. November will determine a lot for Dave Doeren and his cast of wolves as they take on the reigning division champions and three conference contenders. The away date to Clemson (aka the “Textile Bowl”) that begins October will likely be the swing game between division championship and also-ran status. Outside of Clemson, the road dates are very manageable. State boasts one of the better QB-WR duos in the sport with Devins (Leary to Carter). The defense features some key prospects such as Cory Durden, Shyheim Carter, and Payton Wilson. Expect a battle to the wire for the division crown and the Pack will be in contention for it.

Syracuse (@CuseFootball)

Sep 3 HOME vs. Louisville (L)

Sep 10 AWAY @ UCONN (W)

Sep 17 HOME vs. Purdue (W)

Sep 23 (Fri.) HOME vs. Virginia (L)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Wagner (W)

Oct 8 BYE

Oct 15 HOME vs. NC State (L)

Oct 22 AWAY @ Clemson (L)

Oct 29 HOME vs. Notre Dame (L)

Nov 5 AWAY @ Pittsburgh (L)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Florida State (L)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Wake Forest (W)

Nov 26 AWAY @ Boston College (L)

Predicted Record: 4-8

- It’s going to be yet a long season for Dino Babers and his Orange. A season short on talent and hardly any wins on the schedule. QB Garrett Shrader returns as the starter after transferring in from Mississippi State. Expect a lot of struggling against superior teams and a slight competitive advantage against teams like UCONN and Wagner. Easily the least talented team in the division and possibly the whole of FBS. They need a lot to bounce their way to get close to .500 ball. The October stretch after the bye week is particularly discouraging with hosting NC State, traveling to Clemson, and hosting Notre Dame. Check back in 2023 if Babers retains his job.

Wake Forest (@WakeFB)

Sep 1 (Thurs.) HOME vs. VMI (W)

Sep 10 AWAY @ Vanderbilt (W)

Sep 17 HOME vs. Liberty (W)

Sep 24 HOME vs. Clemson (L)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Florida State (W)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Army (W)

Oct 15 BYE

Oct 22 HOME vs. Boston College (W)

Oct 29 AWAY @ Louisville (W)

Nov 5 AWAY @ NC State (W)

Nov 12 HOME vs. North Carolina (L)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Syracuse (L)

Nov 26 AWAY @ Duke (W)

Predicted Record: 9-3

- The reigning ACC Atlantic champions have three eminently winnable games before the showdown in Winston Salem against the perennial division favorites Clemson. A key division decider against Florida State awaits a mere week after that aforementioned date against the Tigers. A couple of breaks here and there could go a long way for a repeat division winner. Much ballyhooed quarterback Sam Hartman returned for a super senior campaign and could play himself into the first round. The Demon Deacons are infamous for their high-powered offense and electric scheme. Much of the vaunted receiver group returns for Hartman, including Donavon Greene and A.T. Perry. A third-place finish for the Deacs is in store. The United States Military Academy is always a tricky opponent to plan for on short notice. Away dates to Louisville and NC State will play a large role. A slight step back for Dave Clawson’s men.


Duke (@DukeFB)

Sep 2 HOME vs. Temple (W)

Sep 10 AWAY @ Northwestern (L)

Sep 17 HOME vs. North Carolina A&T (W)

Sep 24 AWAY @ Kansas (W)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Virginia (L)

Oct 8 AWAY @ Georgia Tech (L)

Oct 15 HOME vs. North Carolina (L)

Oct 22 AWAY @ Miami (L)

Oct 29 BYE

Nov 4 (Fri.) AWAY @ Boston College (L)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Virginia Tech (L)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Pittsburgh (L)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Wake Forest (L)

Predicted Record: 3-9

- A tough road awaits new head coach / defensive guru Mike Elko as he takes over for the retired David Cutcliffe. There are a couple of winnable games like North Carolina A&T and Northwestern. The Kansas game might be the only FBS opponent that’s remotely on par with the Blue Devils' level of talent. Key ACC swing games could end up being Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Even the most optimistic Dukie could hope for four wins at most with this schedule and program history.

Georgia Tech (@GeorgiaTechFB)

Sep 5 (Mon.) HOME vs. Clemson (Neutral at Mercedes-Benz Stadium) (L)

Sep 10 HOME vs. Western Carolina (W)

Sep 17 HOME vs. Ole Miss (L)

Sep 24 AWAY @ UCF (L)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Pittsburgh (L)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Duke (W)

Oct 15 BYE

Oct 20 (Thurs.) HOME vs. Virginia (L)

Oct 29 AWAY @ Florida State (L)

Nov 5 AWAY @ Virginia Tech (L)

Nov 12 HOME vs Miami (L)

Nov 19 AWAY @ North Carolina (L)

Nov 26 AWAY @ Georgia (L)

Predicted Record: 2-10

- Another long season is in the works for the Ramblin Wreck of Georgia Tech. The season is bookended with rivalry games in the Peach State. Geoff Collins is currently embattled and embroiled in a lengthy rebuild. It remains to be seen if he can survive in his current role after a likely dismal campaign. Quarterback Jeff Sims returns for another go after the injury and inconsistency of last season. He’s a barely passable draft prospect at this point in his career. Of course, the huge glaring transfer loss is running back Jahmyr Gibbs to Alabama. The talent drain continued further with draft losses of Juanyeh Thomas, Tariq Carpenter, and Tre Swilling. Former Louisville rusher Hassan Hall enters the picture to somewhat offset the loss of Gibbs. EDGE Kevin Harris comes in from Alabama to earn more playing time in Atlanta. The schedule is particularly brutal in September with dates against Clemson, UCF, and Ole Miss. November is unkind as well and possibly be a winless month. The match against Duke might determine the Coastal basement program.

Sep 3 HOME vs. Bethune-Cookman (W)

Sep 10 HOME vs. Southern Miss (W)

Sep 17 AWAY @ Texas A&M (L)

Sep 24 HOME vs. Middle Tennessee State (W)

Oct 1 BYE

Oct 8 HOME vs. North Carolina (W)

Oct 15 AWAY @ Virginia Tech (L)

Oct 22 HOME vs. Duke (W)

Oct 29 AWAY @ Virginia (L)

Nov 5 HOME vs. Florida State (L)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Georgia Tech (W)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Clemson (L)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Pittsburgh (W)

Predicted Record: 7-5

- Miami finally got their man after years of recruiting Mario Cristobal to be their new head coach. The way it was handled left a lot to be desired. The schedule is quite backloaded with November featuring the eternal Sunshine State showdown with Florida State and Clemson looming along with defending Coastal champion Pitt. Road games against Texas A&M, Clemson, and Virginia Tech are must-have games if the Hurricanes want to seize the Coastal and ultimately the ACC. 3-1 to open the season is feasible given the lack of quality of OOC opponents (Texas A&M excluded). Miami does have talent on both sides of the ball. Namely, quarterback Tyler Van Dyke (who’s a legit early-round prospect), running back Jaylon Knighton, tackle Zion Nelson, and tight end Will Mallory. Defensively, they return Tyrique Stevenson, Al Blades, Jr, and Chantz Williams to go along with a bevy of transfers. Incoming transfers such as Mitchell Agude (UCLA), Akheem Mesidor (West Virginia), Daryl Porter, Jr (WVU), and Jacob Lichtenstein (USC). The Canes have enough talent to win the continually whack-a-mole division but coaching might not be their strong suit as Cristobal has traditionally dropped one or two games he shouldn’t. Year one should be very interesting in Coral Gables.

North Carolina (@UNCFootball)

Aug 27 HOME vs. Florida A&M (W)

Sep 3 AWAY @ Appalachian State (W)

Sep 10 AWAY @ Georgia State (W)

Sep 17 BYE

Sep 24 HOME vs. Notre Dame (L)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Virginia Tech (W)

Oct 8 AWAY @ Miami (L)

Oct 15 AWAY @ Duke (W)

Oct 22 BYE

Oct 29 HOME vs. Pittsburgh (L)

Nov 5 HOME vs. Virginia (W)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Wake Forest (W)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Georgia Tech (W)

Nov 25 (Fri.) HOME vs. NC State (W)

Predicted Record: 9-3

- A new era is dawning for the Tar Heels as Sam Howell is now a Washington Commanders signal caller. Jacolby Criswell is slated to assume the throne for Mack Brown and co. He will inherit a talented receiver who projects highly in next year’s draft in Josh Downs and a veteran receiver in Antoine Green. There will likely be a three-headed hydra that attempts to replicate what Ty Chandler did last season before he landed with the Vikings. Defensively, Myles Murphy, Storm Duck, Noah Taylor, and Tony Grimes lead the way for a veteran-laden stop unit looking to make their mark. They do have to replace key contributors such as Tomon Fox, Jeremiah Gemmel, and Kyler McMichael. Schedule-wise, there’s enough meat on the bone for an eight or nine-win campaign. The non-conference portion is very manageable with only Notre Dame posing as a threat and they have to travel to Chapel Hill at that. A monstrous stretch run after the second bye week remains as the Coastal could be decided well before Thanksgiving. The Heels are notorious for playing tight one-score games so expect more of the same in 2022. They should contend for the division crown but will likely fall short.

Pittsburgh (@Pitt_FB)

Sep 1 (Thurs.) HOME vs. West Virginia (W)

Sep 10 HOME vs. Tennessee (L)

Sep 17 AWAY @ Western Michigan (W)

Sep 24 HOME vs. Rhode Island (W)

Oct 1 HOME vs. Georgia Tech (W)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Virginia Tech (W)

Oct 15 BYE

Oct 22 AWAY @ Louisville (W)

Oct 29 AWAY @ North Carolina (W)

Nov 5 HOME vs. Syracuse (W)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Virginia (W)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Duke (W)

Nov 26 AWAY @ Miami (L)

Predicted Record: 10-2

- The reigning Coastal and ACC champions have enough firepower returning to retain their division title in 2022. OOC-wise, they open with the Backyard Brawl on a Thursday and look for revenge against Tennessee at Acrisure Stadium nee Heinz Field (it’s still Heinz to me, darn it). A possible sleeper game could be against the Broncos of Western Michigan. Pitt’s conference schedule is somewhat challenging with trips to Miami, Virginia, and North Carolina looming. Former USC starter Kedon Slovis transfers in to replace the electric Kenny Pickett who will ply his trade across the hall in black and gold. The biggest loss is receiver Jordan Addison who transferred to USC. However, there’s still talent remaining such as runner Vincent Davis, receiver Jared Wayne, and Akron transfer receiver Konata Mumpfield. Pat Narduzzi has a new OC in Frank Cignetti who comes from BC after Mark Whipple left for the same role at Nebraska. The Panthers do have to replace standout receiver Taysir Mack and corner Damarri Mathis as well. Pitt will battle to the wire for the division.

Virginia (@UVAFootball)

Sep 3 HOME vs. Richmond (W)

Sep 10 AWAY @ Illinois (W)

Sep 17 HOME vs. Old Dominion (W)

Sep 23 (Fri.) AWAY @ Syracuse (W)

Oct 1 AWAY @ Duke (W)

Oct 8 HOME vs. Louisville (W)

Oct 15 BYE

Oct 20 (Thurs.) AWAY @ Georgia Tech (W)

Oct 29 HOME vs. Miami (W)

Nov 5 HOME vs. North Carolina (L)

Nov 12 HOME vs. Pittsburgh (L)

Nov 19 HOME vs. Coastal Carolina (W)

Nov 26 AWAY @ Virginia Tech (L)

Predicted Record: 9-3

- The Hoos are under the new auspices of Tony Elliott after longtime head coach Bronco Mendenhall surprisingly retired. Elliott was previously the offensive coordinator at Clemson. Quarterback Brennan Armstrong could be a sleeper for a possible first-round selection in the coming draft cycle. They do have to replace all-around athletic freak Jelani Woods who landed with the Colts. Grant Misch gets the first shot at attempting that honor. Former Mississippi State transfer Keytaon Thompson returns for a second season at receiver after converting from quarterback full time prior to last season. Dontayvion Wicks will look to replicate his 1,200-yard campaign from last season on his way towards April at receiver as well. Defensively, this is a veteran group with a couple of graduate transfers in EDGE Kam Butler (Miami of OH) and DT Devontae Davis (South Carolina / Georgia Military College). CB Anthony Johnson is another transfer from Louisville expected to make an impact in the draft. The OOC slate is quite a bit simpler with three easily winnable games. In fact, the Cavaliers shouldn’t be seriously tested until after the bye week. In fact, the schedule is easily manageable with Miami, UNC, and Pitt all having to visit Charlottesville. The fun part is that those three opponents are in consecutive order before a tough trip to the South Carolina beach to take on upstart Coastal Carolina. Of course, there’s the Commonwealth Cup to decide against the Hokies. An eight or nine-win debut campaign is possible for Mr. Elliott.

Virginia Tech (@HokiesFB)

Sep 2 (Fri.) AWAY @ Old Dominion (W)

Sep 10 HOME vs. Boston College (L)

Sep 17 HOME vs. Wofford (W)

Sep 22 HOME vs. West Virginia (L)

Oct 1 AWAY @ North Carolina (L)

Oct 8 AWAY @ Pittsburgh (L)

Oct 15 HOME vs. Miami (W)

Oct 22 BYE

Oct 27 (Thurs.) AWAY @ NC State (L)

Nov 5 HOME vs. Georgia Tech (W)

Nov 12 AWAY @ Duke (W)

Nov 19 AWAY @ Liberty (W)

Nov 26 HOME vs. Virginia (W)

Predicted Record: 7-5

- Joining their Old Dominion state rivals, Virginia Tech hired Brent Pry, the former Penn State defensive coordinator as their new coach. The schedule is quite heavy before the bye, featuring dates against BC, WVU, and a particularly brutal October stretch. In comparison, November should be easier on the Hokies, and an undefeated month beckons. Coach Pry definitely has his work cut out trying to replace a litany of NFL talent such as Amare Barno, James Mitchell, and Lecitus Smith. Two transfer quarterbacks are likely projected to battle it out with Grant Wells (Marshall) and Jason Brown (South Carolina) for the gig along with the returning Connor Blumrick. Kaleb Smith and Temple transfer Jaden Blue are expected to lead the expansive receiver room. Defensively, EDGE TyJuan Garbutt along with linebackers Dax Hollifield and Alan Tisdale will lead that group. A .500 or slightly better season would be an accomplishment for Mr. Pry and his band of Hokies. Since the turn of the century, Virginia Tech has dominated the Commonwealth Cup, winning 20 of the 22 contests against their bitter Virginia rivals.

ACC Atlantic Champion: Clemson

ACC Coastal Champion: Pittsburgh




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