ACC Football 2019 Predictions

Complete preview for ACC in 2019

The ACC enters 2019 with uncertainty in both divisions, but Clemson is once again a heavy favorite to win the league title. The Tigers top the Athlon ACC predictions for 2019, with Virginia, Virginia Tech and Miami locked into a tight battle for first in the Coastal Division. The conference has 10 teams projected to reach bowl eligibility, but only three teams ranked inside of the Athlon top 25 for 2019.
 

Clemson’s path for a third national title under coach Dabo Swinney starts with a loaded offense. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman Trophy, and he’s only going to get better with another offseason to work with this staff – a scary thought for the rest of the ACC. The Tigers are stocked with talented playmakers on the outside, running back Travis Etienne is back to pace the ground attack and four starters return in the trenches. Coordinator Brent Venables returns only four starters on defense, but there’s little concern about this unit. Look for end Xavier Thomas to become the next star lineman in Death Valley.

 

Syracuse is the biggest threat to Clemson in the Atlantic, but there’s a sizeable gap between these two teams. The Orange are coming off their best season (10 wins) under coach Dino Babers and could hit that total once again in 2019. Quarterback Tommy DeVito is a rising star, and seven starters are back on a defense that showed progress last fall. The Sept. 14 matchup in the Carrier Dome between Clemson and Syracuse is likely to be the ACC’s must-see game of 2019.

 

Florida State finished a disappointing 5-7 last season, but coach Willie Taggart took steps to get this program back on track. New play-caller Kendal Briles should help the offense improve, and some small improvement is likely on an offensive line that struggled mightily in 2018. NC State’s defense brings back eight starters, which is a good thing for coach Dave Doeren considering the rebuilding effort on offense. In addition to the departure of play-caller Eli Drinkwitz, the Wolfpack lost three starters from a standout offensive line, two 1,000-yard receivers and quarterback Ryan Finley. Wake Forest has one of the league’s most intriguing quarterback battles (Jamie Newman versus Sam Hartman) and should earn a fourth consecutive trip to the postseason. Boston College should be able to lean on quarterback Anthony Brown and running back AJ Dillon to reach a bowl game once again under coach Steve Addazio. New Louisville coach Scott Satterfield is the offseason’s top hire. But the former Appalachian State coach inherits a team that went 2-10 last fall and enters 2019 with question marks at quarterback.

 

While Clemson is an easy pick atop the Atlantic, the Coastal (once again) is one of the toughest Power 5 divisions to decipher. If Virginia claims the Coastal, seven different teams over seven years would have made a trip to the league title game. The Cavaliers seem to be in good position to win their first Coastal title, as coach Bronco Mendenhall’s team returns one of the league’s top quarterbacks (Bryce Perkins) and a standout defense. However, Virginia has to get past rival Virginia Tech – a team it has not beaten since 2003. The Hokies are coming off an uncharacteristic season on defense, but it’s hard to envision a Bud Foster-led group struggling for the second year in a row. Coach Justin Fuente’s offense needs more consistency out of the ground game, but quarterback Ryan Willis and one of the ACC’s top receiving corps are in place. Miami gets both Virginia and Virginia Tech in Hard Rock Stadium this fall. New coach Manny Diaz should have no trouble building one of the league’s top defenses. However, the Hurricanes’ hopes of a Coastal title rest with how much improvement coordinator Dan Enos can muster out of the offense.

 

Pitt – the defending Coastal champs – returns only 10 starters and has to replace two 1,000-yard running backs. The Panthers are counting on new play-caller Mark Whipple to help quarterback Kenny Pickett take a step forward in his second season under center. With a significant amount of turnover at receiver and departure of quarterback Daniel Jones to the NFL, Duke won’t have an easy time earning a bowl trip against a brutal schedule in 2019. Mack Brown’s return to Chapel Hill will be one of the ACC’s top storylines to watch this fall. The Tar Heels have some intriguing pieces to utilize, including freshman quarterback Sam Howell and running backs Michael Carter, Javonte Williams and Antonio Williams. Geoff Collins was an outstanding hire at Georgia Tech, but the former Temple head coach will need a year or two to transition this roster to fit his schemes.

 

ACC 2019 Unit Rankings

Best RB 

Units

Best WR

Units

Best OL

Units

Best DL

Units

Best LB
Units

Best DB

Units

1.  1.  1.  1.  1.  1. 
2.  2.  2.  2.  2.  2. 
3.  3.  3.  3.  3.  3. 
4.  4.  4.  4.  4.  4. 
5.  5.  5.  5.  5.  5. 
6.   6.  6.  6.  6.  6. 
7.  7.  7.  7.  7.  7. 

 

ACC Football 2019 Predictions
       
Atlantic Division
Rank  

Projected ACC Record

Projected Overall Record
1 Clemson 8-0 13-0
2 Syracuse 5-3 9-3
3 Florida State 4-4 7-5
4 NC State 4-4 7-5
5 Wake Forest 3-5 7-5
6 Boston College 3-5 6-6
7 Louisville 2-6 4-8
       
Coastal Division
Rank   Projected ACC Record Projected Overall Record
1 Virginia 6-2 9-4
2 Virginia Tech 5-3 8-4
3 Miami 5-3 8-4
4 Pitt 4-4 6-6
5 Duke 3-5 5-7
6 North Carolina 2-6 4-8
7 Georgia Tech 2-6 4-8
       
ACC Championship Game
Clemson over Virginia

 

ACC 2019 SUPERLATIVES AND SEASON PREDICTIONS

 

Offensive POY

Pick by Steven Lassan: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Pick by Mitch Light: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Pick by Mark Ross: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

 

Defensive POY

Pick by Steven Lassan: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia

Pick by Mitch Light: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Pick by Mark Ross: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

 

Coach of the Year

Pick by Steven Lassan: Dabo Swinney, Clemson

Pick by Mitch Light: Dino Babers, Syracuse

Pick by Mark Ross: Dabo Swinney, Clemson

 

Coach on the Hot Seat

Pick by Steven Lassan: Steve Addazio, Boston College

Pick by Mitch Light: Steve Addazio, Boston College

Pick by Mark Ross: Steve Addazio, Boston College

 

Top Freshman

Pick by Steven Lassan: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Pick by Mitch Light: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Pick by Mark Ross: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

 

Top Newcomer

Pick by Steven Lassan: K.J. Osborn, WR, Miami

Pick by Mitch Light: Tate Martell, QB, Miami

Pick by Mark Ross: Tate Martell, QB, Miami

 

Sleeper Team

Pick by Steven Lassan: Virginia Tech

Pick by Mitch Light: Syracuse

Pick by Mark Ross: Florida State

 

Key Position to Watch

Pick by Steven Lassan: Florida State OL

Pick by Mitch Light: Florida State OL

Pick by Mark Ross: Clemson DL

 

Best Coordinator Hire

Pick by Steven Lassan: Kendal Briles, OC, Florida State

Pick by Mitch Light: Kendal Briles, OC, Florida State

Pick by Mark Ross: Kendal Briles, OC, Florida State

 

Hardest Team to Evaluate

Pick by Steven Lassan: Miami

Pick by Mitch Light: Florida State

Pick by Mark Ross: Georgia Tech

 

Coach on the Rise

Pick by Steven Lassan: Bryan Brown, DC, Louisville

Pick by Mitch Light: Kendal Briles, OC, Florida State

Pick by Mark Ross: Jay Bateman, DC, North Carolina

 

Must-See Game

Pick by Steven Lassan: Clemson at Syracuse

Pick by Mitch Light: Clemson at Syracuse

Pick by Mark Ross: Clemson at Syracuse

 

Breakout Player

Pick by Steven Lassan: Xavier Thomas, DE, Clemson

Pick by Mitch Light: Tommy DeVito, QB, Syracuse

Pick by Mark Ross: Xavier Thomas, DE, Clemson

 

Comeback Player

Pick by Steven Lassan: Justin Herron, OL, Wake Forest

Pick by Mitch Light: Mark Gilbert, CB, Duke

Pick by Mark Ross: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

 

WANT MORE? Listen to our podcast below.

 

Podcast: Explaining Athlon's Top 25 and Playoff Predictions

Include in Acu Data Feed: 
Exclude from Acu-data Feed

More Stories: