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Ranking the ACC's Football Rosters for 2016

Clemson Tigers

Clemson Tigers

The sky is blue, the Earth is round and when you have better players, you win more games.

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Certainly, winning big in college football takes great coaching, enormous support staffs, state-of-the-art training facilities and plenty of luck. But whoever has the most talented roster, has a head start in the race for conference and national championships. 

National Signing Day 2016 gave us more than 4,000 new players to root for and track over the next four or five seasons. So which teams are in the best shape for 2016?

College Football Podcast: 2016 National Signing Day Recap



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Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for ACC schools over the last five classes according to 247Sports Team Composite rankings and each team's record over the last five seasons. Obviously, this doesn't take into account attrition but, over time, this should be considered relatively even across the conference.

Ranking the ACC's College Football's Rosters in 2016:

 

 

'16

'15

'14

'13

'12

Avg

W/L

Conf.

1.

2

3

4

11

3

4.6

58-10

34-6

2.

10

9

17

15

15

13.2

56-12

34-6

3.

21

26

12

14

10

16.6

35-27

21-19

4.

41

29

27

21

21

27.8

40-26

23-17

5.

35

28

31

28

43

33.0

39-26

24-16

6.

30

47

44

32

41

38.8

33-32

20-18

7t.

37

32

45

37

45

39.2

47-18

28-11

7t.

60

50

32

29

25

39.2

23-38

13-27

9.

49

31

34

59

54

45.4

33-31

14-26

10.

33

51

60

70

62

55.2

36-29

19-21

11.

59

44

56

76

52

57.4

36-30

22-18

12

66

58

50

73

61

61.6

26-36

13-25

13.

58

53

65

67

66

61.8

21-40

12-28

14.

75

62

52

87

71

69.4

23-39

12-28

What did we learn?

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Florida State, Clemson Dominate

Florida State and Clemson have dominated both the football field and recruiting trail in the ACC. These two programs have won the last five ACC championships and have played in two national title games and a College Football Playoff game over the last three years. The Noles’ average national ranking of 4.6 trails only Alabama (1.0) and Ohio State (4.2) as the most talented roster in the nation. Clemson’s 13.2 average ranking is 12th nationally and includes back-to-back top-10 hauls. Only Miami comes close to the Tigers and Seminoles when it comes to recruiting in the ACC.

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Mark Richt Returns

Richt is inheriting what is clearly the third-best roster in the ACC - as was the case under former head coach Al Golden. However, this team is just 21-19 over the last five years in ACC play. Miami's average class ranking of 16.6 is better than Ole Miss (18.6), Oregon (19.4), Stanford (22.2), Baylor (26.4) and Michigan State (27.4). Those programs have a combined nine conference titles over the last five years while Miami hasn’t even won its division (ever). We shall see if Richt is the right guy for the job.

Related: Despite Some Defections, New Miami Hurricanes' Head Coach Mark Richt Put Together a Solid Recruiting Class

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Fear the Heel?

The Tar Heels went 8-0 in the ACC last fall and it gives North Carolina the third-best ACC record over the last five years (24-16). But can the Heels take the next step under Larry Fedora? North Carolina has been ranked between 28th and 35th nationally in four straight classes but is that enough to topple the two big boys in the ACC? With the fifth-ranked roster in the league — despite being third in the Coastal Division — North Carolina appears to have as good a shot as anyone in the conference of knocking off either the Tigers or the Noles.

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Bittersweet change

Virginia Tech and the ACC lost a legend when Frank Beamer retired. However, the Hokies might have made the best coaching hire of anyone in college football. Just like that change feels bittersweet, so to should the Hokies' 2016 recruiting class. Justin Fuente is undoubtedly an outstanding coach, but the regime change led to the worst-rated Tech class (41st) since 2002 (43rd). Let’s see what Fuente can do with an entire cycle to recruit before casting judgment.

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Pat Narduzzi is coming for you

It hasn’t taken long for Narduzzi to prove that he is the guy for the job in Pittsburgh. A 6-2 finish in the ACC was second to only Clemson and North Carolina last fall, and, in his first full cycle on the recruiting trail, Narduzzi scored the best Panther class (30th) since 2008 (28th). As a result, Pitt moved from the eighth-best roster in the ACC last season to the sixth in 2016.

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Cutcliffe-ville

Duke has won 36 games in the last five seasons, trailing only traditional powers Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Louisville and North Carolina in the ACC. It also won the Coastal Division and, this year, won its first bowl game in decades. What did head coach David Cutcliffe do for an encore? He landed the highest-rated recruiting class in modern Duke history (33rd). The Blue Devils now own a more talented roster than Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Boston College and Wake Forest.