Brad’s 2022 College Football Preview- ACC Analysis and Predictions

Every summer since 2007 I have created an intricate set of college football predictions for each upcoming season.  This year is no exception, as I will be using my blog over the next few hours to publish my 16th annual college football preview guide which will contain 18 entries in all. The records below reflect each team’s predicted regular season overall record followed by their conference record.  These records include conference title games for the two division champions but exclude bowl games which will be previewed later on in a separate column on this blog.  The teams marked in bold font are the ones predicted to gain bowl eligibility.  Without further ado, here are my predictions for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2022.

Atlantic Division

1Clemson (13-0, 8-0)

Positional Strength: Defensive Line

Positional Weakness: Quarterback

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Alabama (January 9)- Dabo seems to have Saban’s number which is why I am predicting Clemson to run the table and win the national championship in Sofi Stadium this January.

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: None

Bottom Line: The Tigers’ all-world defense and improved QB play (either from Uiagalelei or Klubnik) will lead Clemson back to the ACC title game, the college football playoff, and beyond!

2NC State (10-2, 6-2)

Positional Strength: Linebacker

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Wake Forest (November 5)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at North Carolina (November 25)

Bottom Line: Devin Leary (pictured above) and the Pack will be really good this season. However, I don’t think they can beat Clemson on the road and they always manage to lose one game they shouldn’t, so 10-2 is the ceiling here.

3Louisville (7-5, 4-4)

Positional Strength: Offensive Line

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Wake Forest (October 29)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Virginia (October 8)

Bottom Line: The Cards continue to improve under Scott Satterfield thanks largely to to the development of Malik Cunningham. He enters 2022 as the best dual threat QB in the conference and a dark horse Heisman contender. This team could have easily been 9-3 last year ( they were 1-3 in close games) instead of 6-6, and I think at least some of those narrow victories become wins in 2022.

4Florida State (7-5, 4-4)

Positional Strength: Defensive Backs

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Florida (November 25)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. LSU (September 4)

Bottom Line: It is an obvious make or break year for Mike Norvell with the Seminoles, and I am predicting they do just enough to keep him around by winning some quality games in ACC play, knocking off Florida in the regular season finale, and then qualifying for a bowl game.

5Wake Forest (8-4, 4-4)

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Linebacker

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. North Carolina (November 12)- I am assuming Hartman will be back by this game.

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Florida State (October 1)- Deacs get the Noles’ on the road a week after getting beat up by Clemson.

Bottom Line: I thought it 8-4 was a very realistic, yet somewhat pessimistic prediction for my Deacons, after their incredible 11 win campaign in 2021. However, now that a mysterious injury has QB Sam Hartman sidelined for an indefinite period of time, I am wondering if 8-4 is being too optimistic. I am going to stick with this prediction though because Wake has enough stud receivers to make redshirt freshman Mitch Griffis look decent. And while they won’t be able to repeat their +9 turnover margin or a 4-1 record in close games like they had last season, Clawson’s teams always find a way to win more games than they should, no matter who is out there on the field.

6Syracuse (5-7, 2-6)

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Notre Dame (October 29)- a huge shocker in the building formerly known as the Carrier Dome!

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Florida State (November 12)

Bottom Line: The Orange will be a significantly improved team in 2022, but unfortunately their schedule is also significantly harder than it was in 2021 (replacing Rutgers and Liberty in the non-conference with Notre Dame and Purdue). As a result, even though I see this team pulling off a couple shockers in 2022, there isn’t a viable path to bowl eligibility for the Cuse this season.

7Boston College (4-8, 1-7)

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Offensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Rutgers (September 3)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Syracuse (November 26)

Bottom Line: I am probably underestimating this team a bit just because of how horrendous they looked in their season finale vs. Wake Forest, but they just can’t seem to keep their stars healthy, especially QB Phil Jurkovec (pictured above). I am not sure that problem is going to correct itself in 2022 either given the fact that they are employing arguably the worst offensive line in the league to protect him.

Coastal Division

1Miami-FL (9-4, 6-2)conference runner-up

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Linebacker

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Pittsburgh (November 26)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Virginia (October 29)- the Cavs always seem to have the Canes number, especially when Miami is ultra-talented like they are in 2022.

Bottom Line: Cristobal inherits a loaded roster with a stud QB/RB duo that should lead this squad to a division championship this season.

2North Carolina (9-3, 6-2)

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Notre Dame (September 25)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Wake Forest (November 12)

Bottom Line: Everyone was too high on the Heels last year which is why I correctly predicted them to disappoint last season. This year, I feel like Mack Brown’s team is getting overlooked, as life after Sam Howell won’t be as bad many people are expecting. North Carolina has recruited well enough to still have a superbly talented roster that should contend in a wide open division that is breaking in either a new QB or head coach everywhere except lowly Georgia Tech.

3Virginia (7-5, 5-3)

Positional Strength: Quarterback

Positional Weakness: Offensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Miami-FL (October 29)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Coastal Carolina (November 19)

Bottom Line: It is never a great thing when your strength of your team is your quarterback and its weakness is the offensive line. A great quarterback can’t thrive without a functional offensive line and I am not sure the Cavs have that in 2022. With that being said, I think Tony Elliott is a good enough coach to pull a few upsets and get this team to bowl eligibility.

4Pittsburgh (7-5, 5-3)

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Quarterback

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Louisville (October 22)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. West Virginia (September 1)

Bottom Line: The Panthers were my # 3 surprise team in the nation in 2021 and sure enough the ended up being the shocking champions of the ACC. With that being said, they enter 2022 as my # 3 disappointment team as I expect them to take a major step back following the departures of Quarterback Kenny Pickett and Receiver Jordan Addison.

5Virginia Tech (8-4, 4-4)

Positional Strength: Linebacker

Positional Weakness: Quarterback

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Virginia (November 26)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at North Carolina (October 8)

Bottom Line: A new coach and quarterback may cause some early struggles, but I think Pry has injected a new energy into this program and the defense is good enough to make this team respectable in 2022.

6Georgia Tech (2-10, 1-7)

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Offensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Duke (October 8)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at UCF (September 24)

Bottom Line: The good news is the Yellow Jackets are the only ACC Coastal team that returns both its head coach and starting quarterback. The bad news is that the aforementioned QB and coach aren’t particularly good, they only return 7 other starters total, and their schedule is absolutely brutal. I believe 2022 will mark the end of the Geoff Collins tenure at Georgia Tech.

7Duke (2-10, 0-8)

Positional Strength: Offensive Line

Positional Weakness: Defensive Backs

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Temple (September 3)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Georgia Tech (October 8)

Bottom Line: The Devils are in full on rebuild mode under new coach Mike Elko, as Duke may post its worst record in 2021 since the dreary days of the Ted Roof era.

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