Every season of college football starts out the same way. We have all of these things that we think are knowns — lead-pipe locks as one popular radio host calls them. Then, by midseason, we're all wrong, sitting around wondering what happened to all that we thought was written in stone.
It shouldn't surprise us, considering that we are dealing with young men in their late teens and early 20s, but it always does.
According to most preseason predictions and rankings, it would appear that one of the knowns in the ACC is that there are only two — maybe three — teams that can be considered legitimate contenders to win the conference. That sounds like a good enough reason to toss out some outrageous predictions about the ACC that go against the grain in 2015.
Youngstown State will upset Pitt in Week 1
New Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi is going to have a tough time motivating his team for a home opener in a half-empty Heinz Field against an FCS opponent. One the other side of the field, Bo Pelini is a man with nothing to lose, coaching one of the stronger FCS teams in the nation, complete with some of his former Nebraska players on the roster.
Miami won't break .500
These are not your Daddy's Hurricanes and this isn't the weak ACC from recent years. Miami's schedule is no joke, with road trips to Cincinnati, Florida State, Duke, North Carolina and Pitt. The home slate might be tougher, with visits from Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Georgia Tech. Al Golden's seat will be red hot by season's end.
Clemson will lose at least 5 games
The Tigers will play road games at Louisville, Miami, NC State and South Carolina. They'll play Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Florida State at home. That's a tough group of games for any team in the country to handle, let alone a preseason darling that has hemorrhaged NFL talent over the last couple of seasons.
Neither Florida State nor Clemson will play in the conference championship game
For starters, one of them is going to have at least one loss from playing the other. They'll both also play games against Miami, Louisville, Georgia Tech and NC State. Florida State will lose at least one of those games. Clemson will lose more than one (see above). NC State or Louisville will come out of the Atlantic Division with only one loss and qualify for the ACC Championship Game.
The ACC will not be represented in the College Football Playoff
As the underrated conference beats up on itself all season, Notre Dame looms large as the de facto replacement when everyone else finishes with one or two losses. Combine that with two serious contenders in the Big 12, the SEC champ and either the Big Ten or Pac-12 champ, and all of a sudden the ACC is on the outside looking in.