ACC Football 2020 Predictions

Ashley Barnett

With college football programs beginning early phases of bringing back players on campus, sports fans are remaining hopeful for a 2020 season amid the COVID19 pandemic. As hope remains, college football experts are taking a stab at where they think teams will fall in national and conference rankings. 

Athlon Sports released their ACC Football 2020 Predictions on Tuesday. 

ACC 2020 Predictions:

Atlantic Division

1. Clemson

2. Louisville

3. Florida State

4. Wake Forest

5. NC State

6. Syracuse

7. Boston College

Coastal Division

1. North Carolina

2. Virginia Tech

3. Miami

4. Pittsburgh

5. Virginia

6. Duke

7. Georgia Tech

ACC Championship

Clemson over North Carolina

It comes to no surprise that Clemson is the favorite to win the ACC Championship Trophy in 2020. After all, the Tigers return arguably the best quarterback in the nation and Heisman Trophy favorite, Trevor Lawrence. Dabo Swinney and Co. have also won the conference five times in a row, winning two national titles in four appearances during that span. 

What is surprising is that Georgia Tech is pegged last in the Coastal Division. 

7. Georgia Tech 

Second-year coach Geoff Collins has Georgia Tech on the right track, but another rebuilding season is likely in order. The Yellow Jackets showed progress late in the 2019 season and return 17 starters to help navigate a brutal schedule that features projected top 25 teams in Clemson, UCF, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Georgia. As expected, the transition from an option attack to a spread offense wasn't easy. Georgia Tech managed only 16.7 points a game and scored 17 or fewer in six contests. Sophomore James Graham will face a push from freshman Jeff Sims to start at quarterback, but the strength of the offense should be at running back with Jordan Mason leading the way. Receiver Ahmarean Brown (18.9 ypc) is an emerging star, and better luck in the health department should help the offensive line. The Yellow Jackets allowed 32.4 points a game last season but should improve thanks to the return of linebacker David Curry, cornerback Tre Swilling and safety Juanyeh Thomas. Florida transfer Antonneous Clayton should provide instant help in the trenches.

- Athlon Sports 

Last season was the beginning of a rebuilding era for head coach Geoff Collins. Collins worked from the ground up to help transform a team that went from the triple-option to more of a spread, pro-style offense. The defense transitioned as well from a 4-3, to 3-4 and back to a 4-2-5 scheme. Players and positions were being tested the past year. There were learning curves and challenges. However, the growing pains of the first year are behind the team and the Yellow Jackets are moving forward with the football program. 

This upcoming season, the Jackets return an abundance of talent and experience at the secondary and backfield. Georgia Tech also gains some added help to the offensive line and defensive line this year.

The ACC Coastal is an open book. Miami is a team who ended their season with historic Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech - as well as a loss to Georgia Tech in overtime midway through the season. Although Virginia won the Coastal in 2019, the loss of quarterback Bryce Perkins - who made up about 78 percent of the offensive production last season for the Cavs - will significantly hinder their chances to pull out wins at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Pitt's norm for each season is to expect nothing less than a bowl game. However, the Panthers travel to North Carolina, Miami and Virginia, creating more unpredictability in the Coastal. The chances of Pittsburgh winning all three of those roads games is unlikely. 

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