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ACC Power Rankings: Preseason

Games kick off on Thursday, but can anyone catch the Clemson Tigers?

North Carolina State v Wake Forest Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Finally football is back on Thursday night at The Rock, and for the 1st time since the divisions were established in the ACC, there will not be divisions this upcoming season. In steps Notre Dame as well so the ACC will look totally different in 2020. Ten division games, and the top two finishers will play in the ACC Championship Game in December.

The next biggest story is players who have opted out including Miami’s best player Gregory Rousseau, and the best DT in the league Jaylen Twyman. Whomever can navigate Covid and a more daunting schedule will still have their hands full trying to dethrone the Clemson Tigers.

Your preseason Power Rankings in the ACC.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

1. Clemson - The Tigers have been the preeminent team in the ACC for a long time, and the gap between them and everyone else is huge. Heisman contender Trevor Lawrence is back to lead an explosive offense, and will be complimented by Travis Etienne. They lose Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins on the outside, but they will be fine. Next Game @ Wake Forest 7:30pm Saturday

2. Notre Dame - Feels weird including the Fighting Irish, but Brian Kellys’s group is clearly the second best team in the conference. Ian Book is back for his senior season and ND will have their top 6 offensive lineman back. They will break in a new OC in Tommy Rees, but should be fine moving the football. They lose some of their top rushers on defense but coordinator Clark Lea is one of the better coaches on that side of the ball. Next Game vs Duke 2:30 Saturday

Miami Hurricanes football practice Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

3. Miami - D’Eriq King and Rhett Lashlee immediately give Miami a much needed shot in the arm for an anemic offense. Cam’ron Harris takes over as the lead back and Brevin Jordan may be the best TE in the country. Defensively they were 13th a year ago, and should at least be equal to that with a mix of experience and good players from the transfer portal. Next Game vs UAB Thursday 8pm

4. North Carolina - The Tar Heels are everyone’s darling going into 2020, and for good reason. Sam Howell is a stud at QB and will be one of the best in the conference in his second year. 1000 yard back Michael Carter returns behind 4 OLineman. On defense LB Chazz Surratt will be back to lead a unit that improved by almost 11ppg from 2019. Next Game vs Syracuse Noon Saturday

Virginia Tech v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

5. Virginia Tech - Hendon Hooker ignited the Hokies offense and if not for a late turnover in the UVA game, VT would’ve been in the ACC Championship game. Justin Fuente picked Justin Hamilton to replace the legendary Bud Foster at DC. Their best defensive player Caleb Farley opted out. Next Game vs Virginia Sept 19th

6. Louisville - Scott Satterfield far exceeded expectations in year one getting the Cardinals to 8 wins. Talent is all over the roster on the offensive side of the ball. Micale Cunningham, Javian Hawkins and Tutu Atwell are one of the best “big 3” in college football. Louisville must improve on defense after giving up 33.4ppg in 2019. Next Game vs Western Kentucky 8pm Saturday

7. Virginia - Bronco Mendenhall took the Cavaliers to the Championship game a year ago behind dynamic QB Bryce Perkins. Perkins is gone, and in steps transfer Keytaon Thompson or Brennan Armstrong to lead the offense. Charles Snowdon and Noah Taylor will anchor a strong group at linebacker. The identity of rough and rugged has been established in Charlottesville. Next Game @ Virginia Tech Sept 19th

Florida State v Florida Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

8. FSU - James Blackman returns for his senior year at QB and will have a star in Tamorrion Terry at WR. Can Akers is off to the NFL so running back will take a step back. Marvin Wilson anchors a defense that was gashed a year ago. Mike Norvell has his work cut out for him in year one in Tallahassee. Next Game vs Georgia Tech 330pm Saturday

9. Syracuse - Dino Babers was the “it” coach two seasons ago, but really struggled last year at 5-7. Tommy Divito was not up to the task of replacing Eric Dungey and must be better in 2020. Andre Cisco is one of the best safeties in the ACC and will lead the Orange defense. Next Game @ UNC Noon Saturday

10. Pitt - Kenny Pickett will be back for what seems like his 11th season as the Panthers QB. Pitt was abysmal on offense a season ago averaging just 21.2ppg and must be better for them to be successful. Pitt should have a really good defense that would’ve been better if Jaylen Twyman would’ve stayed in school. Next Game vs Austin Peay 4pm Saturday

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 28 Wake Forest at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

11. Wake Forest - Quietly the Demon Deacons have been one of the more fun offenses in the country the last few years. Sam Hartman is back at QB and their uptempo system will give opposing DCs fits. Carlos Basham Jr. Is one of the best pass rushers in the ACC. Next Game vs Clemson 730pm Saturday

12. Duke - Chase Brice was named the starter at QB and brings some moxie from Clemson. Duke will always be well coached by David Cutcliffe, and with Noah Gray and Deon Jackson back on offense they should be able to score some points. The opener won’t be easy. Next Game @Notre Dame 230pm Saturday

13. North Carolina St - Dave Doeren is likely on the hottest seat in the conference. 4-8 a year ago is unacceptable and new coordinator Tim Beck was brought in to reinvigorate the offense. QB will be up to Devin Leary, the defense will go with a 3-3-5 look, and must improve on a 64.3% completions against. Next Game vs Wake Forest September 19

14. Georgia Tech - Geoff Collins has improved the talent level in his two years on campus in Atlanta but still has a ways to go. 17 starters return from 2019 and CB should be the strength. Juanyeh Thimas and Tre Swilling will be one of the better groups in the conference. James Graham or true freshman Jeff Sims will be the signal caller. Next Game @ FSU 330pm Saturday.

15. Boston College - Jeff Hafley takes over as the new coach after being the Co-DC at Ohio St. Phil Jurkovec arrives from Notre Dame and will most likely be the start at QB. David Bailey takes over for AJ Dillon I’m the backfield and has huge shoes to fill. Next Game @Duke September 19