Clemson has won seven of the last eight ACC championships, interrupted only by Pittsburgh's 2021 title. Florida State won or tied for the title in nine straight seasons from 1992-2000, and resumed its run by taking three of the next four from 2002-2005.
This year, everyone thinks the race is focused on those two teams, but the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com says North Carolina is equally in the chase. The 'Noles are projected to run the table (12-0, 8-0) with the Tigers and Tar Heels each going 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the conference. The ACC Conference Title Odds at FanDuel put Pitt in that mix, as well.
The computer's top 7 teams are the same as the ACC Media Poll, but in a different order.
UNC's only loss would come as a 4.71-point underdog at Clemson on November 18, giving the Tigers the tie-breaker for second-place and a championship game rematch against the 'Noles. FSU is a narrow 1.80-point favorite at Clemson on September 23. Florida State and North Carolina do not face each other.
Remember, the divisional format is gone. Had it continued this year, the computer's pick would have been an ACC title match of Atlantic division winner FSU and Coastal division winner UNC.
The computer has 11 of the ACC's 14 teams going bowling with records of 6-6 or better, and it puts the Seminoles in the FBS Final four. The odds are long on an underdog ACC title chaser to actually come out on top.
Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Virginia are expected to face an early offseason.
Of those three schools, Virginia Tech has the easier schedule and the best shot at outperforming the forecast. The Hokies also look to have an improved roster with significant upgrades at wide receiver and running back. Brent Pry and his staff are making a concerted effort to return to the Frank Beamer recruiting philosophy of owning Virginia and, in particular, the prospect-rich 757 area code.
Virginia will have an early opportunity to prove the computer wrong as the Cavs open in Nashville against Tennessee. It will be the first time the UVa players have taken the field since the shooting that led to the cancellation of the final two games of the 2022 season which included the rivalry game with Virginia Tech.
Meanwhile, Duke and Pitt are each given 8-4 marks.
Mike Elko was the ACC Coach of the Year in his first season in Durham after guiding Duke to a 9-4 finish, and most of the team returns. Last year's schedule did not include Clemson or Florida State and Duke will face both of those schools this year, as well as UNC. And the Blue Devils' season finale is at home versus Pitt.
One common theme we haven't heard during the offseason is "Miami is back". So, maybe Miami will be back. The ACC media poll placed the 'Canes in 5th while the computer has them in 7th.
This is a conference that is potentially loaded at quarterback, even with the transfers of DJ Uiagalelei from Clemson to Oregon State, Kedon Slovis from Pitt to BYU, and Sam Hartman from Wake Forest to Notre Dame. Brennan Armstrong and Phil Jurkovec also transferred, but stayed within the conference as Armstrong goes from Virginia to NCSU, and Jurkovec moves from BC to Pitt.
Louisville lost Malik Cunningham to the NFL draft (Patriots).
Keep an eye on Cade Klubnik at Clemson, Jordan Travis at Florida State, and Drake Maye at UNC - all of whom could make a run at the Heisman. Other possible impact QB's include Brennan Armstrong at NC State, Tyler Van Dyke at Miami, Riley Leonard at Duke, and Garrett Shrader at Syracuse.
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