As usual, some of Week 1 matchups aren’t exactly must-see TV, but it’s better than talking about who is coming and who is leaving the conference.
There are two ACC games on the slate: Clemson at Duke and Louisville at Georgia Tech.
The marquee matchup is a Top 10 showdown in Orlando between FSU and LSU.
The Seminoles are ranked No. 8 in the preseason AP Top 25, while Clemson starts the season at No. 9.
From the start, both Clemson and FSU appear to be the cream-of-the-crop in the conference, but there are some capable challengers lurking in the weeds.
The conference scrapped its two-division format, and every school is battling to finish in the top two spots and earn a December trip to Charlotte in the ACC Championship Game.
The conference has plenty of depth, with UNC, Miami is poised to push to the top.
So, this is how I rank them entering Week 1.
Subject to change, weekly.
- FSU. Could the game with LSU be a preview of a future SEC game? The Seminoles are looking for their first ACC title since 2014, and with 16 returning starters that’s certainly possible.
- Clemson. A new offensive coordinator, Garrett Riley and returning quarterback Cade Klubnik could spark a high-powered Tiger offense.
- North Carolina. The biggest offseason pickup for the Tar Heels was keeping dynamic signal-caller Drake Maye in Chapel Hill. The defense will need a significant improvement if UNC ends up in Charlotte.
- Miami. The Hurricanes have loads of talent. But that’s not anything new. A revamped staff and another great recruiting haul should improve on last year’s 5-7 record.
- Pitt. Hometown product Phil Jurkovec, a Boston College transfer, will lead the Panthers offense. Pitt lost several key players from a solid defense and will need to navigate that successfully if they are to finish in the upper half of the league.
- NC State. A difficult home schedule faces the Wolfpack. Notre Dame, Louisville, Clemson, Louisville, and Miami all pay a visit to Carter-Finley Stadium. Brennan Armstrong, a Virginia transfer, is reunited with former OC Robert Anae.
- Duke. A surprising 9-4 record under first-year coach Mike Elko might be hard to duplicate or improve on. The Blue Devils face Clemson right out the gate and have matchups against Notre Dame and FSU. Ouch.
- Louisville. The depth chart shows just nine returning starters. But first-year head coach Jeff Brohm has a solid record of accomplishment of engineering high-powered offenses. The Cardinals found gold in the transfer portal, by adding QB Jack Plummer (Purdue) and speedy receiver Jamari Thrash. (GT)
- Wake Forest. First the unwelcome news. Star quarterback Sam Hartman is in South Bend playing for Notre Dame. The good news is that the Demon Deacons have a solid replacement under center in Mitch Griffs, and a receiving corps that has the NFL scouts’ attention.
- Syracuse. New offensive and defensive coordinators may slow down the Orange early in the season. Quarterback Garrett Shrader returns and could mesh nicely with OC Jason Beck.
- Georgia Tech. After a disastrous start last season, GT finished the year 4-4 under new coach Brent Key. Can the program pick up where they finished in 2022? The Yellow Jackets worked the portal heavy in the offseason; hopes are high in Atlanta.
- Virginia Tech. The Hokies will need to count on an improved offensive line to increase last season’s scoring average of just over 19 points a game. Tech picked up some solid transfers in receivers Ali Jennings and Jaylin Lane.
- Virginia. To improve on last year’s three-win season, the hopes will hinge on the offense. The Cavaliers are again rebuilding the offensive line, and Monmouth transfer quarterback Tony Muskett will need that line to provide protection.
- Boston College. The Eagles finished 3-9 in 2022. A favorable early schedule that features home games against Northern Illinois and Holy Cross should jumpstart the 2023 season.