The reigning national champions are far and away the best team in the conference. They are led by arguably the best quarterback in college football and have established themselves as a program that is in the championship discussion year in and year out.
Week 1 — vs. Georgia Tech
2. Miami Hurricanes
Despite losing in week 0 to the Florida Gators, and not playing their best game by any stretch, the Hurricanes established themselves as a well-coached, strong team with potential to be much, much better in November.
Week 1 — BYE
Talent for talent, there is no doubt that Florida State is as good as anybody and they return eight starters on both sides of the ball. I believe they are going to be a much better team, despite winning just five games in 2018.
Week 1 — vs. Boise State
Coming off a 10-win season, Dino Babers looks to turn the corner as the head man at Syracuse and establish the program as one that can compete yearly in the ACC. They have a pretty favorable schedule and get Clemson at home, who they beat in ‘17 and loss to by just three in ‘18.
Week 1 — @Liberty
Despite having a tough four-game stretch at the end of last year, they finished strong with wins at home against Virginia, knocking them out of the conference championship game, and a bowl win against Marshall. They return a strong starting quarterback and 10 starters on defense with one of the nations best defensive coordinators in Bud Foster. They will be tested early with a matchup against AJ Dillon and Boston College.
Week 1 — @ Boston College
After knocking off Miami in the middle of last year, it looked like Virginia was going to run away with the Coastal. Instead, they fell to Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech in their last four games of the season and finished 8-5, disappointing many. They are led by Bryce Perkins, who many view as the second best quarterback in the ACC and return eight starters on defense.
Week 1 — @ Pittsburgh
Having a running back like AJ Dillon is an advantage for any team and he should help them even more as a junior. If they can handle business in week 1, they will be in line to start the season 4-0 leading into a home matchup with Wake Forest. They do lose eight starters on defense and five on offense, so there certainly is questions for Steve Addazio that need to be answered.
Week 1 — vs. Virginia Tech
8. NC State Wolfpack
Dave Doeren has had a winning record at NC State since ‘14 and has won nine games in two straight years. Now, he has to replace the schools #2 all-time passer in Ryan Finley, Reggie Gallaspy, who topped 1000 yards and had 18 rushing scores in ‘18, and two 1000 yard receivers, so the offense should naturally take a dip. The Pack have had three straight 1000 yard rushers and Gallaspy had 500 yards in ‘17 before breaking out. They return just four starters on offense and seven on defense.
Week 1 — vs. East Carolina
Jaime Newman beat out Sam Hartman for the quarterback spot despite Hartman flashing true potential after taking over as a true freshman in ‘18. However, the Demon Deacons lose two all-conference offensive lineman and their star receiver. QB Jordan Love and Utah State will be rolling into Winston-Salem coming off an 11-win season and theres a chance they stun Wake out of the gate.
Week 1 — Utah State
Despite beating three teams the Hurricanes lost to in ‘18, the Panthers got dominated by Miami. They lost both top rushers, three of top five tackers, and lose top tackles for loss and sack guy Rashad Weaver for the year due to injury. Pitt plays Virginia, Penn State, and UCF in first four and could lose all of them.
Week 1 — vs. Virginia
11. Duke Blue Devils
The impact of losing Daniel Jones, your top four wide receivers, both your star linebackers, and a starting safety is huge. David Cutcliffe is one of the best coaches in the game and will surely find a way to design his offense for a dual-threat quarterback to succeed. There is just so many questions and playing a national title contender week 1 doesn't help.
Week 1 — vs. Alabama (Atlanta)
North Carolina won three games in ‘17 and two in ‘18 and I don't see them getting THAT much better in ‘19. They have a brutal first four weeks, a brand new coach, a true freshman quarterback, and will be replacing the teams top three tacklers from a year ago. Unless something crazy happens, I don't see Carolina winning more than four or five.
Week 1 — vs. South Carolina (Charlotte)
The transformation from historic triple option team to a regular college offense is going to take time. Geoff Collins is the right guy for the job and I believe they will be good at some point in the future, just not right now. They also draw two national title contenders in Clemson and Georgia, along with road games at both Coastal favorites — Miami and Virginia.
Week 1 — at Clemson
On my podcast we brought on Chris Landry from The ACC Football Show and he said that Louisville has the worst roster in the power five and it’s hard to disagree with him. After beating just Indiana State and squeaking past Western Kentucky (20-17), they went on to lose nine straight, with only one game finishing within 18-points. They hired Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield to try and right the ship, but it’s going to take some time.
Week 1 — vs. Notre Dame