The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 16, 2015

2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Preview

The Atlantic Coast Conference has undergone more changes than any other Power Five conference.  Here’s how it once looked:
Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina St., South Carolina, Virginia, and Wake Forest.  South Carolina left more than 40 years ago, while Maryland left just two years ago.  Georgia Tech, Florida St., Virginia Tech, Miami, Boston College, Louisville, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh have joined the league throughout the period, meaning that of the 14 teams (15 if you include Notre Dame, which plays in all other sports while facing an ACC football slate of six games), only six remain from 1970.

Florida State’s recent three year return to greatness, and Clemson’s recent three year ressurection gave the league a shot in the arm, but 2015 may see the prestige take a small hit.  It’s not that the league has weakened.  No, it’s the other way around.  Both divisions should be wide open this year, and unlike the SEC where seven competitively balanced teams means seven teams in the top 15 of the nations, in this league, it will bring the top teams down far enough to be out of the playoff picture this season.

The PiRates stand strong in their support that if the FBS is going to crown a champion through a playoff, then every Power 5 Conference champion should have a guaranteed spot in those playoffs.  The NFL is the king of the sports universe because every team in the league has an equal opportunity to make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.  Imagine what would happen if the 11-5 Pittsburgh Steelers were not given a bid to the NFL playoffs after edging out 10-6 Cincinnati and 9-7 Baltimore, while 12-4 Denver made the playoffs when their schedule included two games against 2-14 Oakland, 6-10 San Diego, and 8-8 Kansas City.  Could you see Condaleeza Rice going on ESPN toexplain to Steeler Nation that their team should have won that week 17 game over Cleveland?

Back to the ACC, we have plugged our preseason numbers into the computers, and both divisions show ties in the predicted standings.  It was not this way earlier in the summer, but the team we had pegged to be the clear-cut favorite lost two key players and came back to the pack.

That team that took a direct hit across the bough was Clemson.  The Tigers would have been our pick to win the Atlantic Division and the overall conference championship, but the Tigers will go to battle without key stars on both sides of the ball.  Defensive back Korrin Wiggins tore his ACL and is out for the season, while dominating offensive left tackle Isiah Battle decided to make himself available for the NFL Supplemental Draft and was selected by the St. Louis Rams.  Those two player losses is enough to drop CU back into a four-way logjam in the Atlantic.
Coach Dabo Swinney still has top notch talent.  Quarterback Deshaun Watson returns after missing time with a torn ACL last year.  If healthy, the true sophomore has the potential to be the top offensive player in the league.  He has a talented crew of receivers led by the outstanding duo of Mike Williams and Artavis Scott.  Last year, this pair of speedsters with flypaper hands combined to catch 133 passes for almost 2,000 yards.

The biggest unknown in the offense is in its leadership.  Former offensive coordinator guru Chad Morris has now pulled up stakes in Dallas at SMU.  As a comparison, after Gus Malzahn left Auburn to become the head coach at Arkansas State in 2012, the War Eagles dropped to last place in the SEC with an incompetent offensive attack.  We don’t see Clemson’s offense dropping off like this, but we do believe there will be some effect.

Defensively, CU must rebuild with only two returning starters from last year.  The front seven begins anew with all new starters, and this is enough cause for concern to bring Clemson back to the pack.

If Clemson is not our choice to win the Atlantic Division, then most people would quickly predict that Florida State would be our clear-cut choice.  These people are right and wrong.  Yes, they are our choice, but no they are not clear-cut.  In fact, as you will see in our predictions below, we believe a tiebreaker will put the Seminoles back in the ACC Championship Game.

While Clemson will be dealing with an inexperienced defense, FSU will be rebuilding on the attack side.  Losing the first pick in the NFL draft usually means the replacement for that player will never replicate what the team lost.  However, the Seminoles got the top “free agent” in the market when former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson ended up in Tallahassee.  Golson is not another Jameis Winston and most likely will not be an NFL QB, but as a college quarterback, he has the talent to lead FSU to a New Year’s Six Bowl and even a playoff spot.

The Seminoles lost their top two receivers from last year, but Golson will have some exceptional talent on the other end of his passes this year.  Keep an eye on the player we believe will become a breakout superstar in Ermon Lane.  As a true freshman, Lane showed flashes of greatness in a backup role.  Watching him catch a short pass in the flat against Miami and then putting a move on Hurricane DB Deon Bush, leaving him in his dust was enough to make our PiRate scouts move him up into the company of receivers like LaQuoun Treadwell at Ole Miss.

Defensively, Florida State returns enough talent to believe that their 2015 defense will come in statistically somewhere in between the numbers the 2013 and 2014 defenses put up.  Jalen Ramsey is a complete defensive back.  The cornerback is equally strong containing an outside run, blitzing into the backfield to break up a play, breaking up a pass in the short zone, and shutting down the deep threat on the perimeter.  Reggie Northrup and Terrance Smith should both hear their names called in the 2016 NFL Draft.  The defensive line is the only question on this side of the ball.

In times of yore, Florida State lost key games with poor placekicking.  It can be said that missed short field goal attempts kept this school from winning two national championships.  This will not be a problem in 2015, as the ‘Noles have one of the best kickers in America.  Roberto Aguayo has few peers.  If we were asked to name a better placekicker, we might have to go with Adam Vinatieri of the Indianapolis Colts.

Two additional teams should contend for the Atlantic Division title this year, Louisville and North Carolina State.
Bobby Petrino’s return to Derby City resulted in Louisville’s competing immediately in their first year in the ACC.  The Cardinals had to replace an NFL caliber QB and a majority of its top flight defense from 2013, but Petrino has UL just a few precious points away from winning the division and running the table in the regular season.  Against Virginia, the Cardinals had the lead late before UVa kicked the winning field goal.  They were about five feet away from the winning touchdown when time ran out against Clemson, and they blew a large lead against Florida State in their other loss.

The Cardinals lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, but Petrino has a lot of talent returning.  Quarterback Will Gardner looked like the next star to play at Papa John’s Stadium before an injury cut his season short.  A healthy return gives UL a chance to shine.  The offensive line and receiving corps will be green this year, but there is enough talent there to forecast offensive success.

Defensively, the secondary is brand new, and this will probably be the liability that keeps UL out of the ACC Championship Game.  The front seven is competent enough to put pressure on enemy passers and try to limit the liability of the back four.

A killer schedule might be the nail in the Cards’ coffin.  UL starts with a kickoff classic game against Auburn and continues with home games against Houston and Clemson (played with just four days off).  The first half of the schedule concludes with back-to-back road games against North Carolina State and Florida State (with a bye week in between).  If the team comes out of the first half without a lot of injuries, then the Cards could easily run the table in the second half.

North Carolina State is our surprise team in the Atlantic this year.  The Wolfpack have steadfastly improved under third year coach Dave Doeren, and after an 8-5 season that saw NCSU improve by a good 10-14 points by November, this team is ready to growl on the hunt in 2015.

Former Florida quarterback Jacoby Brissett was a different player in November, when he began to scramble and add the threat of the run to his passing.  It led to the ‘Pack scoring 121 points and gaining 1,376 yards in their final three games.  Brissett may not have an all-star contingent of receivers, but there is quality and depth here.  The same can be said about the running attack, as Doeren can call on a double-headed monster in Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes.  NCSU will pound the ball inside to set up the passing game.

Defensively, look for State to continue to shave off points and yardage from what they gave up last year.  This team could give up as little as 24-25 points per game and 350 yards per game, which will put the Wolfpack in the race in the Atlantic.  End Mike Rose will force opponents to double team him after the big and quick pass rusher made 14 stops behind the line last year.  Safety Josh Jones makes it hard for opponents to throw the skinny post pass, and he led the team with four interceptions last year.

NCSU has an easier schedule than Louisville, as the Wolfpack’s September slate should allow the team to host the Cardinals on October 3 while sporting a 4-0 record.  The following week sends the ‘Pack to Virginia Tech, where an upset could possibly put State in the driver’s seat in the division. The second half of the schedule brings Clemson to Raleigh, while State faces Florida State on the road in November.  This should be North Carolina State’s best season since 2010 and maybe best since the 1990’s.

Boston College faces an uphill battle trying to become bowl eligible for the third consecutive year.  Third year coach Steve Addazio has a rebuilding job to do on offense, and we believe the Eagles will take a step back in 2015.  Only three starters return on the attack side, none of whom are on the interior line.  None of the quarterbacks on the roster have the talent of the top four teams in the division, and in this day and age of college football, teams do not succeed without exceptional QB play.

Defense has been the key for BC in the Addazio years.  The Eagles were not very generous last year, giving up just 21 points and 325 yards  per game.  However, it was a feast or famine affair on this side of the ball.  BC stopped cold teams like Maine and Syracuse, while Louisville and Penn State found little resistance moving the ball.

Because the Eagles bring Notre Dame back on the schedule, it is like playing nine ACC games.  The Eagles must win three to gain bowl eligibility, and one of those other three non-conference games comea against MAC power Northern Illinois.  BC must win this game and win at Duke to have any shot of going 6-6, but we believe the team will come up short.

Wake Forest has seen its win total drop by one from six to five to four to three over the last four seasons.  Dave Clawson came on board last year, and the Demon Deacons found the going tough trying to implement a very complicated offense.  The results in year one were less than stellar, as Wake averaged less than 15 points per game and just 216 yards per game.  Considering the offense was on the field for just 50 plays per game, the defense did an admirable job, giving up 26 points and 369 yards per game.  Enough starters and backups return on both sides of the ball to believe that the Deacons will show some improvement in 2015.  John Wolford has a year of the Clawson offense in his mental databanks, and he should perform much better in year two, as the game begins to slow down for him.  It isn’t impossible that the Deac could sneak up on a team or two and flirt with bowl eligibility this year, but we believe they are a year away.

Syracuse brings up the rear this year in our PiRate Ratings.  The Orangemen did not compete in the ACC last year, and the team looks to be a little weaker to start this season.  The offense has gone the wrong way since Ryan Nassib graduated in 2012.  Last year, the ‘Cuse averaged just 17 points and 330 yards per game, while the defense played above their talent level and prevented games from becoming major blowouts.  This year, the defense has been decimated by graduation, and the offense is not going to be much better if at all.  An early game against Wake Forest is vital to this team’s hopes of competing for bowl eligibility, but we cannot see a situation that will bring six wins to this team this year.  Repeating last year’s 3-9 record will be an accomplishment with this squad.

The Coastal Division promises to be just as competitive as the Atlantic.  No team is a clear-cut favorite.  Georgia Tech is a nightmare for other ACC foes to prepare for in one week, as the Yellow Jackets’ offense is completely different than all other offenses among the Power 5 conferences.  Coach Paul Johnson’s spread option offense (the 21st Century Wishbone) is a throwback to the 1970’s, where teams ran and ran and ran the same basic series over and over until surprising defenses with a quick long pass to a wide open receiver.  Last year, Tech ran this offense like clockwork, rushing for more than 340 yards per game and averaging north of nine yards per pass attempt.  The keys to making this offense unstoppable are a quarterback who can read and react on the move, and a receiver contingent that forces defenses to keep four secondary players guarding against the pass first.  If defenses cannot bring a dedicated eighth player into the box to play the option, then theoretically, this attack cannot be stopped.

Quarterback Justin Thomas can handle the first key.  He is an expert at reading defenses on the run.  Thomas topped 1,000 yards rushing last year, while throwing for more yards and touchdowns than any Johnson-coached QB.
The question this year is whether there will be receivers that can keep that eighth defender out of the box.  DeAndre Smelter was that man last year.  This may be what keeps the Jackets from competing for a playoff spot in 2015.

Defensively, look for GT to be better this year than last when they surrendered more than 400 yards per game.  A 30-50 yard drop in yardage allowed could lead to Tech giving up around 22-24 points per game, putting them in contention to cop the Coastal.

What hurts Tech’s chances to compete for a playoff spot is their schedule.  Road games against Notre Dame, Clemson, and a home game against Georgia means this team will have no fewer than two losses and probably three in the regular season.

Virginia Tech was less than two minutes away from suffering its first losing season in eons last year.  A late comeback win over Virginia followed by a Military Bowl win allowed the Hokies to finish 7-6.  Of course, VT pinned the only loss on Ohio State last year, holding the Buckeyes to just a hair over 100 rushing yards.  Coach Frank Beamer is ready to return this team to glory with talent and depth on both sides of the ball, but that opening game on Labor Day brings the defending national champs to Blacksburg looking to punish the Hokies for 2014.

Inconsistent offense has been VT’s thorn since Tyrod Taylor departed Lane Stadium in 2010.  Michael Brewer is not a Taylor or a Logan Thomas, but the second year starter should cut down on his picks and become a better game manager.  Brewer has capable receivers at his disposal, including the league’s best tight end.  Bucky Hodges grabbed 45 passes and scored seven times last year and should top 50 this year.

The only possible thorn in the offense’s side this year is an offensive line that lacks the experience of last season’s line.  This could also slow down the running game and once again cause the offense to be inconsistent, or more correctly, to do okay against weaker defenses and bog down against better defenses.

The Hokie defense has consistently surrendered 17-22 points and 300-350 yards per game under famed coordinator Bud Foster.  Foster is to Beamer what Bill Gutheridge was to Dean Smith on the hardwoods at North Carolina.  Look for the 2015 edition of stop troops to be among the best in the nation once again.

Up front, VT has the best interior in the league, led by end Dadi Lhomme Nicolas and tackle Luther Maddy.  Nicolas posted nine sacks and 18 1/2 total tackles for loss last year, but those numbers do not accurately reveal how good he was.  He might have registered 15 sacks had his partner on the other side had not also recorded Ken Ekanem had not been just as successul dropping QBs on their tushes.  Ekanem had 9 1/2 sacks and 19 QB hurries.  While different stats-keepers may have different interpretations about QB hurries, Nicolas’s 36 hurries looks like a pitcher winning 30 games in today’s Major Leagues.  Maddy was not used for rushing the QB; he shone by plugging the middle and keeping blockers away from the linebackers.

The back seven of the Tech defense is almost as talented as the front four, with free safety Chuck Clark leading the way.  He plays all over the field, stuffing the run and clogging the middle of pass protection.
The only reason we are selecting Georgia Tech over Virginia Tech is because when these top two contenders face off for what should decided the division winner, it will be in Atlanta on Thursday night, November 12.  Both teams will have byes the week before, and as of today, we show GT winning a very close game.

North Carolina has been overlooked in the preseason of many other publications.  We do not agree with this assessment.  The Tar Heels have gone from eight to seven to six wins in Larry Fedora’s three years in Chapel Hill, but that trend will cease in 2015.  UNC has a scary offense with the return of 10 starters to an attack that averaged more than 33 points and 430 yards per game.  Quarterback Marquise could contend for All-ACC honors after putting up some gaudy numbers last year (3,000+ yards passing, 21 TD, leading rusher with 13 TDs).  There is depth behind Williams, as Mitch Trubisky may be the top backup in the league.

Williams well recognize his receiving corps, as his top five targets from 2014 are back to give pass defenses nightmares. The tandem of Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins ranks only behind Williams and Scott of Clemson.  Throw in Quinshad Davis and Bug Howard, and UNC probably has the best quartet in the league.
Now, add the return of the entire starting offensive line and most of the second five, and it is obvious that the Tar Heels are going to score a lot of points this year, maybe close to 40 per game.

Can their be a problem with scoring 40 points per game?  Unfortunately for this team, yes it can.  Last year, UNC gave up 39 points and almost 500 yards per game, but we will go on record and state that this will not happen again if for no other reason than the fact that offensive juggernauts Clemson, Notre Dame, and East Carolina are off the schedule (UNC gave up 170 points and 1,833 yards in these three games).

When a defense has one possible star, it is advantageous for that star to be the Mike linebacker, and UNC’s lone star player is Jeff Schoettmer, who led the Heels with six tackles for loss while adding six passes defended.  The defensive backfield is average at best, while the front line leaves a lot of room for improvement.  Carolina may still surrender more than 30 points and 400 yards per game this year, but this team can go 8-4 with that lack of production.  And, if the ball bounces their way, it would not surprise us if Fedora’s troops pull off an upset of one of the two teams picked ahead of them in the ratings.

Pittsburgh has consistently been better than average but not great for several years.  The Panthers have earned seven consecutive bowl bids, but in this day and age where a big school gets a bid with a 6-6 record, this is not a major accomplishment.  Regular trips to December bowls does not lead to great rewards, especially when you lose to Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl and to SMU in the Birmingham Bowl.

The Panthers might have been our darkhorse pick to contend for the Coastal Division title this year, but Coach Paul Chryst return to Badgerland to take command of Wisconsin, and his replacement, Pat Narduzzi, has zero head coaching experience.  While Narduzzi is one of the best defensive coordinators in the game, we frequently see defensive coordinators needing a year or two of learning when making that step up to the head job of a major program.  Thus, we have dropped Pitt a few points in their ratings, as opposed to new head coaches that were offensive coordinators (Chad Morris, Tom Herman, and Mike Bobo).  Oftentimes,  defensive masterminds tend to play too conservatively, believing their defense will eventually win the game, when in actuality, this has not been true in college football in decades.

Pitt actually has enough talent on hand to win eight regular season games.  The Panther offense returns its chief weapon in bruising tailback James Conner.  Conner led the ACC in rushing with 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns last year, while averaging close to six yards per carry.  Having a quarterback that can fake the handoff and keep the ball for a nice game helps keep defenses from totally focusing on Conner, much like the fullback in the I-formation of the 1980’s and 1990’s did for the I-Back.  QB Chad Voytik is just that man.  As a passer, he is serviceable, but add his running ability, and you have an effective signal caller.

Look for Conner to run to his left a lot this year, as the Panthers’ left side of the blocking wall features stars in guard Dorian Johnson and tackle Adam Bisnowaty.

Pitt’s receiving unit is not among the tops in the league, but the Panthers do have one star. Tyler Boyd caught 78 passes for 1,261 yards and eight touchdowns last year, while earning 1st team All-ACC honors.
Defensively, you would expect Pitt to make forward strides under Narduzzi’s watch, but that has not always been the case when defensive coordinators take over as head coach, especially if they do not remain the defensive coordinator.  We expect the Pitt defense to stay in the same range it has been for the last few years, giving up about 25-27 points per game and less than 375 yards per game.  It’s impossible to identify the star of this side, as the sum of Pitt’s parts is not equal to the whole.  All three Panther units are credible but not sensational, but the team plays hard on this side of the ball and seldom gets embarrassed, except when facing Georgia Tech’s offense.

You can gauge Pitt this year on how the Panthers perform in game three at Iowa.  This should be a blue collar type of game like two big heavyweights going at it in the ring.  If Pitt can leave Kinnick Stadium with a win, the Panthers will believe they can take out Virginia Tech, especially since they will have an extra week to prepare.  If they lose this game, then Narduzzi may have a tough time keeping the team on track to remain bowl eligible.  It is one of those truly critical non-conference games this year.

Al Golden proved his competency as a head coach by leading Temple back to respectability after inheriting a winless program.  At Miami, he has been tasked with trying to bring the Hurricanes out of a major probation with numerous penalties.  His four year record is 28-22 with consecutive bowl appearances  once bowl eligibility was restored.  However, Miami fans and alums expect the Hurricanes to always be in contention for national honors, and Golden’s seat has been pre-heated for this season.  Unfortunately, we do not see a turnaround for this program in 2015, just more mediocre results.  And, another season similar to the previous four will probably send Golden out of Coral Gables.

The UM offense lost its big star when Duke Johnson left early for the NFL.  Johnson led the ‘Canes and finished second overall in the ACC with 1,652 yards, while averaging close to seven yards per carry and scoring 10 times last year.  New starter Joseph Yearby has talent but will not approach 1,600 rushing yards.

Quarterback Brad Kaaya returns, but his top three receivers must be replaced (Johnson was #3).  There are no adequate replacements for Phillip Dorsett and Clive Walford.

Defensively, Miami has improved for three consecutive seasons, but too much talent was lost to expect further improvement in 2015.  The strength of this unit is at linebacker where Raphael Kirby and Jermaine Grace return after combining for 114 tackles a year ago.  The secondary has experience but tends to get beaten a few too many times.

The ‘Canes will have a tough road staying bowl eligible this year, but we actually rate Golden as one of the most affective coaches at winning close games.  Thus, we are going to move his expected wins total up to six to give Miami bowl eligibility.  Having to play Nebraska and Cincinnati outside of the league, as well as both Clemson and Florida State from the Atlantic Division immediately eliminates the 2015 Hurricanes from returning to their glory days.  Our advice to Miami fans: would you rather have Larry Coker as your head coach?  Stick with Golden like Virginia Tech stuck with Beamer, or your 2016 team may look more like the other Miami playing in the MAC.

The job that Duke coach David Cutcliffe has done in Durham cannot be overstated.  This was a program basically given up for dead in the ACC prior to his arrival at Wallace Wade Stadium.  It had been 18 years since Duke’s last bowl game when he broke through with the Belk Bowl bid in 2012.  It had been 24 years since the Blue Devils had owned a title when Duke won the Coastal Division in 2013.  Duke was not expected to come close to replicating that 2013 season last year, but Cut produced a nine-win season, missing out on another division crown by one game.
2015 brings another situation that looks like Duke will take a step back to the wrong side of .500, but you can never count out Cutcliffe to find a way to win a few games Duke should not win.  What gives us cause for concern with this Devil edition is the breaking in of a new quarterback combined with the loss of the top two receivers and a pedestrian running game.  We cannot see how Duke can replicate or closely approach their offensive successes of the last three years, where they topped 30 points per game each year.  A return to 21-24 points per game is possible, while 25-27 is probable.  And, that little drop is enough to turn nine regular season wins into five.  A win over Northwestern in September is a must if Duke is to find a way to scratch and claw its way to six wins without signing a pact with that other Devil.

Pity poor Mike London.  The Virginia Cavaliers’ head coach is a dead man walking on the Charlottesville campus.  In a year, where he must win over face dismissal, he must face a non-conference schedule that opens at UCLA, hosts Notre Dame and then after a supposed breather that could be anything other than that  against William & Mary, Boise State comes to town for a Friday night game.  UVa will be 1-3 at the best by this time, and if the Tribe upsets the Cavs (they did so in 2009, 26-14), London might not make it to October.  Virginia has a week off on October 3, and it isn’t out of the realm that London would not make it to the October 10 game at Pittsburgh with homecoming coming the following week.

London is a quality coach, but recruiting to Virginia has never been easy.  With the ACC getting tougher every year, it is hard for this school to keep up with the Clemson’s, Florida State’s, and Louisville’s, let alone having a powerhouse in-state rival in Virginia Tech.

The fact that a quarterback that will be attending his fourth college in four years (Connor Brewer) could compete for a starting bid shows how far this program has to go to catch up with its rivals.  Another experienced player transfering in is running back Albert Reid who could help the Cavs in power running plays up the gut. something this team has lacked in the past.

Defensively, there are not many stars, and because this team competed with talent on this side of the ball last year, you can expect a regression to a statistical result more similar to 2013 (33 ppg) than 2014 (24 ppg).

Here is how the ACC Media predicted the league for 2015.

Atlantic Coast Conference Media Poll
Pos. Team 1st Place Total Champ. Votes
Atlantic Division
1 Clemson 101 1032 84
2 Florida St. 56 992 41
3 Louisville 1 746 0
4 North Carolina St. 0 673 1
5 Boston College 0 473 0
6 Syracuse 0 291 0
7 Wake Forest 0 217 0
Coastal Division
1 Georgia Tech 96 991 20
2 Virginia Tech 44 841 7
3 Miami 7 632 2
4 Duke 4 615 0
5 North Carolina 4 590 3
6 Pittsburgh 3 535 0
7 Virginia 0 220 0

Here is the Media’s preseason All-ACC team.

ACC Preseason All-Conference Team
Offense Player School
Quarterback Deshaun Watson Clemson
Running Back James Connor Pittsburgh
Running Back Shadrach Thomas North Carolina St.
Wide Receiver Tyler Boyd Pittsburgh
Wide Receiver Mike Williams Clemson
Wide Receiver Artavis Scott Clemson
Tight End Bucky Hodges Virginia Tech
Tackle Roderick Johnson Florida St.
Tackle Adam Bisnowaty Pittsburgh
Guard Landon Turner North Carolina
Guard Eric MacLain Clemson
Center Matt Skura Duke
Defense Player School
End Dadi Lhomme Nicolas Virginia Tech
End Shaq Lawson Clemson
End Sheldon Rankins Louisville
Tackle Adam Gotsis Georgia Tech
Tackle Luther Maddy Virginia Tech
Linebacker Terrance Smith Florida St.
Linebacker Brandon Chubb Wake Forest
Linebacker James Burgess Louisville
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey Florida St.
Cornerback Kendall Fuller Virginia Tech
Safety Jeremy Cash Duke
Safety Quin Blanding Virginia
Special Teams Player School
Punter Alex Kinal Wake Forest
Kicker Roberto Aguayo Florida St.
Return Specialist Ryan Switzer North Carolina

Here are the PiRate Ratings beginning ratings and averages for 2015.

Atlantic Coast Conference
 Atlantic Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 113.5 114.6 113.4 113.8
Florida St. 114.4 114.1 112.9 113.8
Louisville 109.6 112.1 110.0 110.6
North Carolina St. 109.7 112.1 108.8 110.2
Boston College 100.9 106.0 99.4 102.1
Wake Forest 97.1 101.9 96.7 98.6
Syracuse 94.1 98.1 93.0 95.1
Coastal Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Georgia Tech 119.2 110.4 118.6 116.1
Virginia Tech 114.2 111.1 114.3 113.2
North Carolina 112.1 112.1 111.5 111.9
Miami 108.2 109.1 108.7 108.7
Pittsburgh 105.3 107.1 106.8 106.4
Virginia 102.3 99.6 101.4 101.1
Duke 100.0 100.4 99.7 100.0
ACC Averages 107.2 107.8 106.8 107.3

These are our preseason won-loss predictions and bowl projections.

PiRate Ratings Predicted Records
Pos Team Conf. Overall Bowl
Atlantic Division
1 Florida St. 6-2 10-3 * New Year’s 6
2 Clemson 6-2 9-3 Gator
3 Louisville 6-2 9-3 Sun
4 North Carolina St. 6-2 9-3 Pinstripe
5 Boston College 2-6 5-7 None
6 Wake Forest 2-6 5-7 None
7 Syracuse 0-8 4-8 None
Coastal Division
1 Georgia Tech 7-1 9-4 ^ Belk
2 Virginia Tech 7-1 10-2 Russell Athletic
3 North Carolina 4-4 8-4 Independence
4 Pittsburgh 4-4 7-5 Military
5 Miami 2-6 6-6 Quick Lane
6 Duke 2-6 5-7 None
7 Virginia 2-6 3-9 None
* Wins Title Game
^ Loses Title Game

Coming Next: The Big Ten

How high up will the obvious preseason number one team begin the 2015 season?  Where will this rank in the annals of the PiRate Ratings?

 

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