The ACC was left out of the college football playoffs in 2021 as the bell cow Clemson had a down year. Pitt, Wake and NC St stepped up to have great seasons, but with the National power Tigers struggling, it was a down year for the conference as a whole. 2022 starts with a ton of changes at the top, as 4 Coastal teams have new head coaches, and many top QBs have graduated. Wake Forest , who was seen as a favorite, lost starting QB Sam Hartman for an undisclosed amount of time. The conference needs a shot in the arm from Miami or FSU or Virginia Tech, but more than anything they need someone to be in the post season race by November.
Here are the preseason power rankings.
1. Clemson - The Tigers had a down year, but still finished 10-3. Clemson will have the best defense in the conference and one of the best in the country. Brian Breese is back to anchor the d-line, but the biggest question is at QB. DJ Uiagalelei or Cade Klubnick must be better for this offense to click. Next Game @ Georgia Tech
2. North Carolina St - The Wolfpack are loaded this season with Devin Leary coming off a 35 Td season where he only threw 5 picks. The offense scored 33.1 ppg which was good for 18th in the country. The bigger story was the defense which was elite, and returns 10 starters. Next Game @ East Carolina
3. Pittsburgh - Pitt is the returning conference champions, but loses star QB Kenny Pickett to the draft, and also had Bilentnikoff winner Jordan Addison leave via the transfer portal. Outside of that the Panthers return 15 starters including a great d-line which should terrorize opponents. Next Game West Virginia
4. Miami - The Canes had an eventful offseason. Manny Diaz and AD Blake James were both removed from their positions, and in steps Mario Cristobal and Dan Radakovich. Miami returns Hesiman contender Tyler Van Dyke at QB, and hit the transfer portal hard for multiple pieces on defense. Next Game Bethune Cookman
5. Virginia - Brennan Armstrong put up one of the great seasons in ACC history throwing for 4449 yards with 31 TDS. The Cavaliers return 3 great pass catchers with Keytaon Thompson, Billy Kemp IV and Dontayvion Thompson. Virginia has a new coach in Tony Elliott so there could be some growing pains. Next Game Richmond
6. Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons had a great 2021 where they made it to the ACC Championship game, and would’ve been one of the front runners for the Atlantic side, but bad news hit. Sam Hartman will miss an undisclosed amount of time with an undisclosed injury. They still return 15 starters and will challenge if QB play is adequate. Next Game VMI
7. North Carolina - The Tar Heels opened with a closer than needed win over FAMU. Drake Maye answered the early bell as the new QB. UNC has pieces but underachieved a lot in 2021. Next Game @ Appalachian St
8. Florida St - Mike Norvell is on the hot seat, but the Noles coach was able to finish 2021 on a 5-3 kick. 2022, Jordan Travis is back to lead a much improved offense. They started 1-0 after an easy win over Duquesne. Next Game LSU (New Orleans)
9. Louisville - The Cardinals boast one of the most exciting players in the ACC in Malik Cunningham, who accounted for nearly 4000 yards of total offense and 39 TDs. The Cardinals must improve defensively after giving up 27.3ppg in 2021. Next Game @ Syracuse
10. Virginia Tech - The Hokies made a coaching change, hiring Brent Pry to replace Justine Fuente. The Hokies also are breaking in a new QB, but do return 12 starters from last years 6-7 team. Next Game @ Old Dominion
11. Boston College - The Eagles finished 6-6 in 2021 but return 3 dynamic playmakers on offense. Phil Jukovec, Zay Flowers and Pat Garwo III should pave the way for a fun offense. Next Game Rutgers
12. Syracuse - Hot Seat part 2, this time for HC Dino Babers. The Orange return 16 starters and have a versatile signal caller in Garrett Schrader to pace the attack. Sean Tucker is one of the most underrated backs in the country. Next Game Louisville
13. Georgia Tech - Host seat part 3, Geoff Collins, who has won 3 games in each of his first 3 seasons at Tech. Jeff Sims is back for his 3rd season under center, but the Yellow Jackets return only 5 starters total. The schedule is a beast, and .500 will be tough to attain. Next Game Clemson
14. Duke - The Blue Devils also made a coaching change, hiring Mike Elko to replace outgoing David Cutcliffe. They return 9 total starters from a team that finished in the 100s on both offense and defense. Next Game Temple