ACC Preview: Host of teams tangle in wide-open conference

Story posted August 31, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Josh Bartosik

After seven long months, the best four words you could ever hear will finally be spoken again: college football is back. 

College football brings with it a massive amount of excitement and pandemonium, and what better conference to preview than the wackiest of them all: the ACC.

The ACC has been the most confusing conference to predict in the Power 5 for the past few seasons and this season is no different.

The Atlantic Division is extremely top heavy, with Clemson, NC State and Wake Forest leading the charge. Yet each team faces key questions and challenges that could determine their entire season.

For Dabo Swinney’s Tigers, their season revolves around quarterback play. DJ Uiagalelei had a horrendous season in 2021 — if he can’t turn around his play, it could get ugly for Clemson quickly.

NC State has all the pieces to finally make a run at a conference championship and potentially a College Football Playoff run, with star quarterback Devin Leary and a sturdy defense leading the way. It’s tough to put faith in the Wolfpack, however, as they struggle to live up to their potential every year.

Wake Forest’s hopes lay in the hands of quarterback Sam Hartman, who announced he will be taking a personal leave of absence from the team for an undisclosed amount of time due to a non-football related illness. If the Demon Deacons can stay afloat before he returns, they could potentially challenge the Wolfpack or Tigers for the Atlantic title.

Teams like Florida State and Boston College make up the middle of the pack in the Atlantic. Both teams look to improve from last year’s win totals and potentially play spoiler to the top three.

As for the Coastal Division, chaos could ensue once again, with teams like Pitt, UNC, and Miami in the fold.

The reigning champs in Pitt will look to rebuild its offense after the loss of both quarterback Kenny Pickett and wide receiver Jordan Addison. USC transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis will look to get the job done on offense, while the Panthers still boast one of the nation’s best defenses.

UNC is an interesting team to dissect. Mack Brown’s squad had a very disappointing campaign last season, but new quarterback Drake Maye has shown massive promise, tossing five touchdowns against Florida A&M last weekend.

The main question for the Tar Heels is their defense, which gave up 32.1 points per game last season. If there's any improvements on defense, then UNC could be a real threat.

Miami finally seems to be a contender once again. The return of coach Mario Cristobal and promising quarterback Tyler Van Dyke back in the saddle have given Canes fans a lot to look forward to.

With the sophomore slinger under center and a revitalized defense led by defensive tackle Leonard Taylor and safety James Williams, the Hurricanes are looking to head back to the glory days of the 1980’s.

Virginia Tech is a sleeper team in the Coastal Division, with new head coach Brent Fry looking to bring the Hokies back into the top three. Fry led one of the top defenses in the nation at Penn State for the past several seasons and he can only improve a defense in Virginia Tech that allowed 25.3 points per game last season.

The Hokies’ main question lies under center, with two transfer quarterbacks, Grant Wells and Jason Brown, battling for the starting job. They won’t have big playmakers at receiver after the departure of Tayvion Robinson and Tre Turner, but a strong running game could help make up for that.

Expect Virginia Tech to make stronger teams like Pitt and Miami sweat in their midseason matchups.

Another ACC season is right around the corner, and another bloodbath is sure to ensue. The conference is seemingly wide open and it will be a grueling 13 weeks for all 14 teams involved.

Josh Bartosik is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email