ACC Football: Predicted Win Totals for Every Team in 2013
ACC Football: Predicted Win Totals for Every Team in 2013
With the new look ACC set to begin play in a couple months, it’s time to start thinking about the win totals for the 14 teams in the conference. Keep in mind, these win totals are predictions for the regular season only and do not include the conference championship game or any bowl appearances.
Preseason predictions are always difficult (and sometimes end up looking ridiculous), but they are even harder in 2013 because of the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. No one knows how either team will perform against the tougher ACC schedule.
Pittsburgh went 3-4 in the Big East last season but did qualify for postseason play under head coach Paul Chryst. Syracuse enjoyed one of its better seasons in recent memory, going 5-2 in the Big East, but they lost a number of key contributors and are in a rebuilding mode in 2013. So while the win total is unknown, it seems likely that both could struggle in their inaugural season.
On the flip side, most college football analysts have Clemson as the favorites in the conference, but their overall win total could suffer thanks to two tough out of conference games. Florida State won the ACC last year, but they have to break in a new quarterback and defensive coordinator in 2013.
So in reality, no one really knows what to expect in 2013, but it’s always fun to guess. On the surface, the league appears to be a little more top heavy than it has been in past years, but we’ll see how it all plays out.
For now, here’s a look at the projected win totals for all of the ACC teams in 2013.
Boston College Eagles- 4 Wins
The Eagles struggled to a 2-10 finish last season and are eager to get back on the field to erase those memories. The schedule doesn’t set up well for BC, however. They head to the West Coast to take on USC in a brutal out of conference game and draw North Carolina and Virginia Tech in the crossover games.
New head coach Steve Addazio has some offensive weapons like wide receiver Alex Amidon and quarterback Chase Rettig back, but they struggled to run the ball last year and it doesn’t look much better this year. Kevin Pierre-Louis leads an adequate defense that was on the field too much last year.
It’s possible the Eagles could sneak out an extra win or two, but anything more than four seems unlikely.
Syracuse Orange- 5 Wins
Syracuse is coming off of an excellent 2012 season but has to replace of number of key contributors and is welcoming a new head coach, Scott Shafer. The transition to the ACC won’t be easy, and their early out of conference schedule is difficult as well. They open with Penn State and Northwestern on the first two weekends before getting a gimme against Wagner on September 14.
They do end the season with two very winnable home games against Pittsburgh and Boston College but will likely fall short of reaching the six wins necessary to qualify for a bowl game, unless they can pull off an upset.
Virginia Cavaliers- 5 Wins
The Cavaliers are in a bit of a rebuilding mode but are recruiting very well. However, that’s not going to help them this season. They lost their top two quarterbacks from 2012, although whoever wins the job will have an experienced offensive line to play behind. They do return their top running back, Kevin Parks, and he should be able to take some pressure off the new quarterback.
The Virginia defense was outstanding a year ago but lost the majority of its playmakers. Head coach Mike London has his work cut out for him, but they should be able to win some games in the middle of their season. Early season games against BYU and Oregon are very difficult, as are their final two games against Miami and Virginia Tech.
While I don’t see five wins that jump off the page at me, something tells me that London is able to win one that he shouldn’t and win one more than last year.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons- 5 Wins
The Demon Deacons have a majority of their skill players back on offense in 2013, but they ranked 116th nationally in points scored last season. Quarterback Tanner Price will have his favorite target back in Michael Campanaro, and the run game has top rusher Josh Harris back as well.
The front seven for Wake Forest should be solid, but there are several question marks in the defensive backfield. They will have their work cut out for them if they want to get back to a bowl game.
The early part of their schedule is manageable, but in the middle they play Clemson, Miami and Florida State, three likely blowouts. It’s possible they get to six wins, but my guess is they lose a game they shouldn’t and end up just missing out on a bowl game.
Duke Blue Devils- 5 Wins
Duke is coming off their best season in 18 years and trying not to recede back into obscurity. They will have to replace three year starter Sean Renfree and are changing their offense to be more run-heavy in his absence. Head coach David Cutcliffe is an outstanding quarterbacks coach, so I would expect Anthony Boone to progress well under center.
Outside of their opener against North Carolina Central, there are no easy wins on the schedule. Memphis, Navy and Troy make up the remainder of their out of conference schedule and should all be tough games. They benefit by not having to play Florida State or Clemson, but they will still struggle to win two or three conference games. Five wins would be a step back, but they might be lucky to get there in 2013.
Maryland Terrapins- 6 Wins
Maryland opens their final season in the ACC with three winnable games before the schedule gets much harder heading into Week 4. If they can win three ACC games, they should be able to get back to a bowl after a dreadful 2012.
Stefon Diggs is one of the best players in the ACC and will benefit from having a quarterback that can get him the ball. Not surprisingly, Maryland ranked 104th in passing offense last year and should improve dramatically if they can stay healthy at quarterback.
The Maryland defense was the reason they were able to stay in games last year, but this year they have some holes to fill, particularly in the front seven. If they can perform well this year, expect to see Maryland back in a bowl game before they move to the Big 10.
Pittsburgh Panthers- 6 Wins
As an introduction to the ACC, Pittsburgh will take on a very talented Florida State team on Labor Day. Thanks a lot. However, after a tough opener, they have a handful of games that they could win (New Mexico, Duke Virginia, Old Dominion). They end the season with another tough game against the Miami Hurricanes.
In his second year, head coach Paul Chryst should be able to rely on a defense that was very good in 2012. They return their two top defenders in Aaron Donald and Jason Hendricks, so the defense should be good again. Wide receiver Devin Street is probably their best returning offensive player, especially since they lost their top passer and rusher. Pitt fans would likely be happy with a six win season in their first foray into the ACC, but it could be tough for them to get there.
North Carolina State Wolfpack- 7 Wins
Former Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren has his work cut out for him in his first season at NC State. For one, he will be breaking in a new quarterback and hasn’t had the chance to recruit one that fits his style. In past years, his quarterback has led the team in rushing, but that seems unlikely with Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas the likely starter behind center.
As far as the schedule is concerned, if the Wolfpack can take advantage of a relatively easy start and go 3-1 out of the gate, they have a chance of getting to seven wins this year. Doeren is a creative offensive mind, and I have a feeling he will win a game or two that he shouldn’t in his first season. There could be big things ahead at NC State, and a seven win season could really boost an already impressive 2014 recruiting class.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets- 8 Wins
Vad Lee takes over the quarterbacking duties full-time and has shown the ability to run Paul Johnson’s offense effectively. He will benefit from having four starters return on the offensive line. A shift to the 4-3 will see defensive star Jeremiah Attaochu move to defensive end where he could be a beast.
The schedule is very difficult in 2013, however. They go to Miami, BYU and Clemson and will struggle to win any of those games. The annual season finale against Georgia will once again be tough, as the Bulldogs look like a national title contender this year.
So, eight wins is the guess, although I could see seven or nine wins as well.
North Carolina Tar Heels- 9 Wins
Quarterback Bryn Renner is perhaps the best kept secret in college football. He had a tremendous season in 2012 and will likely improve his numbers under head coach Larry Fedora.
The schedule starts off brutal with a road game at South Carolina in Week 1. They also travel to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech but do catch the Miami Hurricanes at home. The end of the schedule is considerably easier, as they could finish with six straight wins.
Fedora is a great coach and appears to be turning things around in Chapel Hill faster than people thought he would. Nine wins would be an incredible season for them, and I really think it’s possible.
Virginia Tech Hokies- 9 Wins
It seems like Logan Thomas has been at Virginia Tech for about eight years, but apparently he’s only a senior now. After lots of hype, he had a disappointing season last year and is looking to rebound in 2013. Frank Beamer and company will once again be able to rely on a solid defense to keep them in games.
Outside of the opener against Alabama, the schedule sets up very well for the Hokies. They have three relatively easy out of conference games and don’t have to play Florida State or Clemson. They do have road trips to Georgia Tech and Miami, but other than that, they should be favored in every other game.
Miami Hurricanes- 9 Wins
The Miami Hurricane offense should be outstanding in 2013, but the defense remains in doubt. Quarterback Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson return to lead a high-powered offensive attack, but the defense that allowed 30.5 points a game in 2012 will need to improve if they want to contend for the ACC crown.
The schedule isn’t easy for the Hurricanes, as they play both Florida and Florida State this year. However, their two toughest ACC games (Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech) will both be at home, making them the favorite to win the Coastal Division.
They will likely lose to the Gators and Seminoles, and I see them slipping up in one other ACC game. Nine wins would delight a fan base that is hungry to once again be on the national stage. It’s possible that they could knock off one of those two and have a dream season of 10-2.
Florida State Seminoles- 10 Wins
The Seminoles should be 5-0 (although the opener against Pittsburgh is tougher than some people think) heading into Death Valley to take on Clemson. By that point, the country should have a better idea what to expect from Jameis Winston, because right now, it’s all conjecture. Clemson probably has too much firepower on offense for the Noles to pull off the minor upset, but it should be a great game.
The other big game on the schedule is the season finale at Florida on November 30th. The Gators went into Doak Campbell and beat the Noles last year and Florida State would surely like to return the favor, but The Swamp is a tough place to play.
Other than that, the Noles shouldn’t trip up against anyone, but Jimbo Fisher’s teams seem to lose a game every year that they shouldn’t (can you say NC State?).
Clemson Tigers- 11 Wins
The Tigers are absolutely loaded on offense, especially after quarterback Tahj Boyd announced he was coming back for his senior season. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins had a disappointing sophomore campaign but will once again be the focal point of an explosive offense.
They open and end the season with two tough games against SEC opponents. In Week 1, they play an experienced Georgia offense led by Aaron Murray, and they end the year against in-state rival South Carolina, who happens to have won their last four meetings.
I’ll say the Tigers are able to pull off one of those games and run the table in the ACC to end the regular season with 11 wins.