Home ACC Football Preview: The Power 2, Intriguing 6, If Everything Goes Right 5, Bottom 4

ACC Football Preview: The Power 2, Intriguing 6, If Everything Goes Right 5, Bottom 4

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A year after debuting a division-less format, the ACC broadened its footprint by adding three new programs in Cal, Stanford and SMU, bumping the total conference football enrollment to 17.

I don’t see any of the new programs having a chance at making some noise this fall as far as challenging for the regular season title, as the favorites remain the same: Florida State and Clemson.

I give the mid-summer nod to Clemson, though FSU is breathing down the Tigers’ necks as the Seminoles look to go back-to-back as conference champions.

I see the ACC as shaping up like this:

  • The Power 2: Clemson and FSU.
  • The Intriguing 6: Miami, UNC, NC State, SMU, Louisville and Virginia Tech.
  • The If Everything Goes Right 5: Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Virginia, Pitt and Cal.
  • The Bottom 4: Boston College, Syracuse, Stanford and Duke.

Depth should be a strength for the ACC in 2024, as outside the top two heavyweights, Clemson and FSU, a handful of teams that I included in the intriguing group of six could be sleepers.

The ACC is a tough Power 4 league to predict following expansion.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said in a press release: “The ACC football schedule is significant for so many reasons. Between first-time matchups, rivalry games, and once again playing arguably the toughest collection of non-conference opponents there will be no shortage of interest in ACC football throughout the season.”

OK, Commissioner, we will have to see how that “no shortage of interest” ages.

There are some interesting non-conference games in the league this season.

Stanford, as usual, will face Notre Dame in early October. Cal will travel to Auburn in early September.

NC State will face Tennessee in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte in a Week 2 matchup.

The marquee non-conference battle will be the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta on Aug. 31 between Clemson and Georgia.

The Tigers are looking to reestablish their brand as a national power, and there is no better opportunity than Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs.

Georgia lost a ton of players to the transfer portal and has done a complete roster rebuild.

Clemson may have a terrific opportunity to come out of the gate strong.

Florida State has a huge non-conference game as well.

The Seminoles have a late-season meeting in South Bend with Notre Dame, where FSU has won just twice, the last being 20 years ago.

The ND game comes at the tail end of a brutal stretch for FSU that includes games against Clemson, Miami and North Carolina.

The ACC was practically forced to add the three new schools, because of widespread conference realignment.

This has all but ended any look of regionality to conferences.

Cal and Stanford will be playing in a mostly East Coast-based conference.

Those frequent flyer miles will start adding up quickly.

Welcome to college athletics 2024.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.