By: Nate Murphy (@bigmurph23)
The dust has barely settled from the Season 18 National Championship Game. The coaching portals have just opened and coaching staffs are being filled out. Rosters will soon follow. Some teams don’t have more than the AD’s player on their roster. So how can anyone tell who has the best shot to win the conference? You probably can’t reliably figure it out at this point. But I’m going to do my best. In this four-part series, I will look at each conference and tell you who will come out on top….maybe.
Looking at the ACC you can almost instantly pick out the head of the pack. Miami and Florida State jump out as front runners. Why? Miami just battled for four quarters and came up short in the championship game. While they will have holes to fill from graduation and transfers you know that The U is going to reload and be ready for another run.
As far as FSU, as long as Grin is the lead man you have to assume that they will be in the running once again. Both teams lose a lot of seniors in one specific position group. Miami loses their monster defensive line and Florida State loses a large part of its explosive receiving corps. Can they get them replaced and continue to be dominant forces in those position groups? Only time will tell.
Outside of the state of Florida, we find the second wave of contenders. UNC and Notre Dame are the next two teams that catch my eye. Notre Dame found their way to the second round of the playoffs last season. In terms of graduation, Notre Dame didn’t lose a lot of numbers from their Season 18 roster. While the guys they lose are important, the core of this team (I am of course assuming) is intact. This should be a team that competes. The Tar Heels are going to have to replace key graduating seniors in multiple positions. How well they fill these new voids will tell how they finish in Season 19.
That just leaves three teams left. Clemson, Pitt, and the new addition heading to the ACC the Syracuse Orange. Being the new team in the conference makes things difficult for the Orange. We have seen brand-new teams struggle early on. We have also seen them take off and have great first seasons. Syracuse is the wild card here, and I’ll pick them to finish just above Pitt in the ACC standings. By default that puts Clemson just above Syracuse and just below my second tier. Not a knock on the Tigers, but out of this group I believe they fall right in the middle of this group.
Okay, so all of that, and who wins? Big Murph’s way too-early pick to win the ACC is the Miami Hurricanes. Here is a look at my way-to-early prediction of the final standings: