The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 14, 2019

2019 Atlantic Coast Conference Football Preview

Filed under: College Football — piratings @ 10:00 pm

How can the best team in college football be in the fifth best conference in college football?  Clemson is about three touchdowns better than any other team in the ACC–that’s how!

The Atlantic Coast Conference is suffering with one school’s overwhelming dominance over the rest of the league.  This is akin to basketball in the old Pac-8 Conference during the era where John Wooden led UCLA to consecutive national titles from 1967 through 1973.  The rest of the league finished far back and routinely saw the Bruins run up lopsided scores week after week.  There was a year where UCLA beat second place Washington by 39 and 17 points during the year.  There was no competition, somewhat because the top talent that did not get a Bruin scholarship chose to play for a school in another conference.

Dabo Swinney has taken Clemson to heights similar to Dr. Tom Osborne at Nebraska in the 1990s, Frank Leahy at Notre Dame in the latter half of the 1940’s, and Knute Rockne at Notre Dame 20 years earlier.  The Tigers should easily run the table in the regular season this year, but there is a chance they will enter the Playoffs as the number two seed due to lower strength of schedule.

The Coastal Division should be an interesting race, as every team has a weakness that can be exploited.  Virginia is getting all the preseason love after Bronco Mendenhall guided the Cavaliers to an eight-win season.  Virginia Tech, Miami, and Pittsburgh figure to contend for the flag or maybe a piece of a shared division title.  Duke faces a considerable rebuild, but David Cutcliffe is a competent enough coach to pull off a couple of upsets.  North Carolina starts over by going back to the past.  Can Mack Brown pull off a Tar Heel reclamation project for a second time?  Georgia Tech has the toughest rebuild in the nation this year, as new coach Geoff Collins comes from Temple to replace Paul Johnson.  The Yellow Jackets are transitioning from triple option spread to a conventional 21st century spread offense with a run-pass balance.  Collins has taken over a dozen players and changed their position, but the biggest problem is a lack of a pocket passer to run the offense.  It could be a long year in Atlanta.


Here is how the ACC Media voted in the preseason poll.  With so many media members in attendance, there were two voters that actually picked Syracuse to beat Clemson in the Atlantic Division.  They will either become nuts or geniuses.


Atlantic Coast Conference Media Poll
Atlantic Division
Pos. Team 1st Place Votes Overall
1 Clemson 171 1209
2 Syracuse 2 913
3 Florida St. 0 753
4 North Carolina St. 0 666
5 Boston College 0 588
6 Wake Forest 0 462
7 Louisville 0 253


Coastal Division
Pos. Team 1st Place Votes Overall
1 Virginia 82 1003
2 Miami (Fla.) 55 992
3 Virginia Tech 20 827
4 Pittsburgh 8 691
5 Duke 6 566
6 North Carolina 1 463
7 Georgia Tech 1 302


Championship Game Winner Overall Votes
Clemson 170
Syracuse 2
Virginia 1


The PiRate Ratings begin the 2019 season with Clemson ranking more than three touchdowns ahead of Syracuse and 23.4 points ahead of the top Coastal Division team.  Without doing extensive research, the only other time one team began the season three touchdowns better than any other team in its conference might have been Arizona State in 1973, when they were in our preseason top 5 from the old Western Athletic Conference, and number two Utah was more than 20 points weaker.  Take a look.


Preseason PiRate Ratings–ACC


Atlantic Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 133.9 129.6 134.7 132.8
Syracuse 111.7 111.5 111.8 111.7
Florida St. 105.4 105.9 105.6 105.7
Boston College 103.8 103.5 104.3 103.9
Wake Forest 103.2 102.8 103.3 103.1
N. Carolina St. 102.3 102.2 102.9 102.5
Louisville 94.3 94.2 92.6 93.7


Coastal Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Miami 109.4 108.3 110.6 109.4
Virginia Tech 108.6 109.1 109.3 109.0
Pittsburgh 109.0 107.6 108.4 108.3
Virginia 107.6 107.7 107.7 107.7
Duke 104.3 103.8 104.1 104.1
N. Carolina 99.3 100.9 100.8 100.3
Georgia Tech 99.9 98.6 100.8 99.8


ACC Averages 106.6 106.1 106.9 106.6


Note:  These preseason ratings are accurate as of August 1, 2019, and subject to change before the first week of the season due to personnel changes prior to the first week of the season.


Predicted Won-Loss Records

The PiRate Ratings were not created to forecast won-loss records like other ratings might attempt.  Our ratings are valid for just the next game on the teams’ schedules, and we have pre-set adjustments built into our ratings on many teams.  For instance, if a team has exceptional starting talent but little depth, their rating has a pre-set reduction per week of the season, so that even if they win or lose a game by the exact expected margin, they will lose some of their power rating due to their depth issues.

If a team has exceptional, but inexperienced talent, their rating will have a pre-set addition per week of the season, and even if their performance may be exactly what was expected, their power rating will rise.

What you see in these predicted won-loss records are our opinion and not calculated from the ratings.  These are the estimated records based on a vote, with the Captain having 50% of the vote and the crew having the other 50%.  The Captain then rounded up or down those teams picked to have an average wins that were not whole numbers.


PiRate Members Predicted Won-Loss


Atlantic Division
Pos Team Conf. Overall
1 Clemson 8-0 13-0 *
2 Syracuse 6-2 10-2
3 Wake Forest 3-5 7-5
4 Boston College 4-4 7-5
5 Florida St. 3-5 6-6
6 North Carolina St. 3-5 6-6
7 Louisville 1-7 3-9


Coastal Division
Pos Team Conf. Overall
1 Miami (Fla.) 6-2 9-4
2 Virginia 6-2 9-3
3 Virginia Tech 6-2 9-3
4 Pittsburgh 4-4 7-5
5 Duke 3-5 5-7
6 North Carolina 2-6 4-8
7 Georgia Tech 1-7 3-9



Clemson picked to win ACC Championship Game


Wake Forest-North Carolina counts as a non-conference game


Bowl Predictions




Playoffs Clemson
Orange (Notre Dame)
Camping World Miami
Belk Syracuse
Sun Virginia Tech
Pinstripe Virginia
Music City Wake Forest
Independence Florida St.
Military Pittsburgh
Quick Lane Boston College


Citrus Big Ten Team


Alternate Bowl
Birmingham North Carolina St.


Coaches On The Rise

Possible Candidates to Move to a Championship-Caliber Program

Dino Babers, Syracuse

Dave Clawson, Wake Forest

Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia


Coaches On The Hot Seat

Steve Adazzio, Boston College


Top Quarterbacks

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (best college QB since Peyton Manning)

Tommy DeVito, Syracuse

Bryce Perkins, Virginia


Top Offense



Wake Forest


Top Defense





Coming Tomorrow: The Pac-12 Conference.  This league has little chance at producing a national champion and only a slim chance at producing a playoff representative, but on the other hand, the weakest teams in the Pac-12 are stronger than the weaker teams of the other leagues.

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