Written By Jacob Grehl 8-8-20
This is part 2 and in continuation of my College Football Conference Championship prediction series. Up next I’m going to discuss the Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC) and present my top 5 contenders to win the conference title. Although the ACC has been a monopoly for the past 5 years, with Clemson dominating the ACC spectrum, I do believe there are at least 4 teams that have the potential to knock off the ACC giant that is Clemson.
At number 5 I’ve got the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Now Wake Forest Football in recent years has been subpar, but I see something brewing in Winston Salem. Now, I don’t think Wake Forest is brewing a National Championship level team, but they are improving enough to be considered an ACC contender. They have a decent Head Coach in Dave Clawson, who has been with the program for the past 6 years and has set the foundation for what Wake Forest football can be. The Deacons are coming off a respectable 8-5 season and a 4-4 conference record. The thing that catches my eye with Wake Forest is their Home dominance, with an excellent 6-1 record at home this past year, one of the best in the NCAA. I believe the deacons can pull off an 8-9 win season and compete for an ACC Title.
At number 4 on my list, I have the Miami Hurricanes. Miami is coming off a very underwhelming 6-7 season, and some embarrassing losses to FIU and LA Tech. Regardless of last season’s disaster, new additions and returning talent bring the Canes right back into the contender conversation. The canes have 2 players on the Heisman watch, Greggory Rousseau (Edge) and D’erik King (QB). Both are dark horses this year, Rousseau’s prolific season was overshadowed by the poor performance by the rest of the team, and D’erik King is transferring from a far less popular American Conference team (Houston). Not only that, but we have to remember Manny Dias (HC) is only in his 2nd year as Head Coach of the program, and before his Head Coaching endeavors he was one of the best Defensive Coordinators in College Football. So the man has a very high football IQ and has the ability to guide and lead a team. Expect a very big improvement from the Canes this year, and maybe even a title run.
At the number 3 spot, I have the Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia is coming off of an ACC runner up season and an ACC Coastal Division Championship. A solid 9-5 record in 2019 and talent returning for the 2020 season, there would be no reason not to consider Virginia as a contender. Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall has created a great, competitive culture for the Cavs and has done a phenomenal job utilizing young talent. Good things are coming for Virginia in 2020.
At number 2, I have the North Carolina Tar Heels. North Carolina is number 2 on my list for only a couple reasons. First, Sam Howell (QB), for those who truly watch and love football know that this kid is a first round quarterback talent. The kid was amazing last season, in fact his stats were heisman level good. Second, Mack Brown (HC) has returned to the Tar Heels in an emotional 1st season back after departing in 1997 (after 9 seasons). Mack Brown bleeds Carolina blue, and is the culture of Chapel Hill Football. I expect great things from the Tar Heels this year, maybe even a title.
At number 1, it’s no surprise, the Clemson Tigers. The real debate is when will Clemson’s domination of the ACC end? this year? In 5 years? There are no signs of the Tigers slowing down or declining. They are coming off of a National Championship runner up season, and Trevor Lawrence is back in the saddle again for the Tigers. Oh, and not to mention Travis Etienne, arguably the best running back in College Football. When you regain as much talent as the Tigers have, there is no question they are the heavy favorite to win the ACC yet again.