The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 23, 2017

2017 Atlantic Coast Conference Preview

The folks around the Atlantic Coast Conference have a decent case to support in the statement that their league, and not the Southeastern Conference, is the supreme college football conference in the land.  Clemson bested Alabama in the National Championship Game.  The ACC went 4-1 against the SEC in bowl games, and the ACC won 10 of 14 games overall against the SEC in 2016.  Five ACC teams finished the season in the top 25.

The 2017 season begins with the SEC just a tiny hair above the ACC in PiRate Ratings averages.  Early games between Alabama and Florida State, Tennessee and Georgia Tech, and Clemson and Auburn will go a long way in determining conference supremacy, and season ending games between Florida and Florida St. Georgia and Georgia Tech, and Louisville and Kentucky will seal the deal if one conference dominates the other.

This league has a little more depth this year.  It may be tougher for any team to go undefeated, as the team with the best quarterback, Louisville with Lamar Jackson, has an average at best defense.  Florida State has the next best quarterback in Deondre Francois, and the Seminoles have a nice stable of running backs.  However, there are some questions at wide receiver, and there could be depth issues in the offensive line.  Clemson still has the overall best combination of offensive and defensive lines, but the defending national champions must replace Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman, and Mike Williams on the attack side.  Figure CU to average about 10-14 fewer points per game.

While the top three in the Atlantic Division have exceptional talent but with some questions, the other four teams could all be better than last year, especially North Carolina State and Syracuse.

The Coastal Division race should be quite interesting.  Miami, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, and even Duke could challenge for the divisional flag.  The league could be just balanced enough so that no ACC team earns a Playoff bid.

Here is how the ACC Media voted in the preseason:

ACC Atlantic Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Florida St. 121 1,108 118
2 Clemson 37 1,007 35
3 Louisville 9 843 7
4 North Carolina St. 0 658 0
5 Wake Forest 0 415 0
6 Syracuse 0 362 0
7 Boston College 0 283 0
ACC Coastal Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Miami (Fla) 103 1,065 3
2 Virginia Tech 40 932 3
3 Georgia Tech 9 708 0
4 Pittsburgh 7 673 0
5 North Carolina 4 606 0
6 Duke 4 473 1
7 Virginia 0 219 0

The PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings still show Clemson to be slightly better than Florida State in the initial ratings of the season.  However, the margin is razor thin, and we expect a lot of shuffling early in the season due to heavy schedules.

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 128.4 124.6 127.5 126.8
Florida St. 126.8 124.8 126.1 125.9
Louisville 116.6 115.7 117.0 116.4
N. Carolina St. 115.2 114.5 114.9 114.9
Syracuse 110.3 108.1 109.3 109.2
Wake Forest 102.7 102.2 102.0 102.3
Boston College 102.0 102.9 101.5 102.1
Coastal Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Miami 118.6 116.2 117.7 117.5
Virginia Tech 116.6 116.2 117.0 116.6
Georgia Tech 113.2 110.5 111.3 111.7
N. Carolina 109.9 108.4 108.3 108.9
Pittsburgh 108.8 108.8 108.0 108.5
Duke 106.3 105.1 104.9 105.4
Virginia 98.7 98.8 99.7 99.1
ACC Averages 112.4 111.2 111.8 111.8

Here are our unscientific won-loss predictions and bowl projections for the league.

Atlantic Coast Conference Projected Standings
Atlantic Division
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Florida St. 7-1 11-2 Peach
Clemson 6-2 10-2 Orange
Louisville 6-2 9-3 Belk
North Carolina St. 5-3 8-4 Sun
Syracuse 3-5 6-6 [Heart of Dallas]
Boston College 1-7 4-8  
Wake Forest 1-7 3-9  
Coastal Division
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Miami (Fla) 6-2 10-3 Music City
Virginia Tech 6-2 10-2 Camping World
Georgia Tech 5-3 8-4 Independence
North Carolina 3-5 7-5 Military
Duke 3-5 6-6 Quick Lane
Pittsburgh 3-5 5-7  
Virginia 1-7 3-9  
Florida St. to win the ACC Championship Game
Notre Dame predicted to take ACC’s bid to the Pinstripe Bowl
Syracuse’s bid to Heart of Dallas Bowl is an at-large bid

Notre Dame qualifies for any ACC Bowl other than the Orange Bowl, if the Irish are within one win of the next available ACC team.  For instance, if Notre Dame goes 8-4, the Irish can leapfrog any 9-3 ACC team in an ACC Bowl.

Notre Dame can also qualify for the Orange Bowl as the replacement for the Big Ten or SEC team.

Later today: We will preview the Southeastern Conference in the afternoon (Eastern Time).  Can a West Division team dethrone Alabama?  Can any team from the West challenge for the SEC Championship?  Can more than one SEC team make this season’s playoffs?  Check back later today.

Coming Tomorrow: It is game week!  There are only five total games involving FBS teams, but it is real, and it counts.  So, we will debut our 2017 PiRate College Football Forecast.  We will show you all 130 teams ranked predictively and retrodictively, give you the spreads for the five games, and give you all of our bowl projections.

There will be no Money Line Parlay suggestions this week with so few games, but when we debut this feature next week, look for it on Friday morning.


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