- Clemson Tigers– They enters the 2015 season coming off their best season in school history. It truly was a great year to be a Clemson Tiger fan. Dab Spinney has become one of the best coaches in the country and has raised expectations by the year. In the fall, Clemson will enter the season with unfinished business to take care of as they fell short in the national title game to Alabama. The pieces are there to definitely make another run at a title and it will start with Deshaun Watson who is returning for another season and he leads a dynamic offense with a nice receiving core and a solid offensive line considered being one of the best in the country. The defense will enter the year with some questions after losing Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd and Mackensie Alexander. Senior Carlos Watkins and emerging star Christian Wilkins will anchor the middle of that defensive line and linebacker Ben Boulware returns for his final year. Let’s see what Clemson has under their sleeve this season.
- Florida State Seminoles– I was really impressed with them in 2015. It was a rebuilding year and they still managed to go 10-3. These guys are now loaded to make a run and claim another national championship. However, they enter the year with questions at quarterback. Freshmen Deondre Francois is expected to start and Dalvin Cook is poised to have a great season. When I look at the Seminoles defense, they lost Jalen Ramsey to the NFL but I don’t think that will be too much of an issue because Jimbo Fisher and his staff have always recruited so well and they fill those holes when they have too. DeMarcus Walker will also return for his senior season and he gives them a nice tandem at defensive end with Walker on one side and Josh Sweat who is a former five-star recruit on the other side. If everything comes together, it could be a fun year for these Seminoles.
- Louisville Cardinals– This conference already features two of the best teams in college football and that’s Clemson and Florida State. The Atlantic can get a little deeper with the emergence of Louisville in 2016. Let’s rewind to last year: They finished their 2015 campaign by winning six out of their last seven games and another positive as they enter the 2016 season is that 16 starters will return including dynamic quarterback Lamar Jackson. What will be key for their offense is better play from those five guys up front. They struggled immensely last year due to a lot of inexperience. The defense will be the heart and soul of the team once again and that’s how Bobby Petrino would want it. Defensive tackle Deangelo Brown will replace Sheldon Rankins as the primary run stopper and this defense will feast on turnovers once again as they recorded 17 interceptions and recovered nine fumbles.
- North Carolina State Wolf Pack– They have earned back to back trips to bowl games under Dave Doeren. Now, it’s time to take that next step as a team. A third straight appearance in a bowl game won’t be easy especially without Jacoby Brissett and secondly, the schedule will be a lot tougher in 2016. There will be questions at quarterback, but the offense has a nice duo of running backs in Matt Dayes and Jalen Samuels. Jalan McClendon will be replacing Brissett under center and the offense could get a boost from Thaddeus Moss, the son of legendary receiver Randy Moss. The strength of the defense was the defensive line and it should be again in 2016 with B.J. Hill, Justin Jones and Kentavius Street.
- Wake Forest Demon Deacons– They’ve really struggled under Dave Clawson. Wake Forest hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2008 and in his first two season as head coach, Clawson has gone 3-9 and has an overall record of 6-18. There’s a lot of work to be done. I guess you can say there’s somewhat of a quarterback controversy as they were back and forth between John Wolford and Kendall Hinton. On defense, the defensive line is by far the most experienced unit of the entire team as four upperclassmen will be starting.
- Boston College Eagles– The defense isn’t the issue for Boston College. When you have a unit that is one of the best in the nation in yards allowed per game and you still have a 3-9 record, your offense is the issue. Scot Loeffler has been hired as the new offensive coordinator for the Eagles, a title he held at Virginia Tech and saying he has his work cut out for him is an understatement. For the second time in three seasons, Boston College will be starting a graduate transfer at quarterback in Patrick Towles. As I said in the beginning, the defense has been the core of this team and last year, they kept Boston College in many of their games. The offense just didn’t do its part. Maybe we will see some improvement this year.
- Syracuse Orange– Dino Babers is now the new head coach at the Cuse and he brings a hurry-up spread offense with him. Sophomore Eric Dungey returns and will more than likely be the starter. Dontae Strickland will be in the backfield with Dungey as he beat out Jordan Fredericks as the starting running back during spring practice. The defense will also be making some adjustments as well as they will play a Tampa-2.
2016 Prediction: I’m picking Clemson to win the ACC Atlantic for the second straight year. I believe they will enter with a strong chip on their shoulder after losing in the national title game they will show a lot of people last year wasn’t a fluke. With Watson leading that offense once again and if Brent Venables can take this defense and turn them into a winning unit just like he did last year, they will compete for another ACC title and a berth in the College Football Playoff. The biggest challenge facing them is a showdown with Florida State on October 29th.