2023 College Football ACC Preview, Predictions & Picks


Aug 9, 2023

The Atlantic Coast Conference enters 2023 with two runaway favorites to win the league: Clemson and Florida State. The Tigers and the Seminoles are dark horse National Championship contenders, and both would be a bit disappointed if they did not make the College Football Playoff.

There are several intriguing storylines, including North Carolina‘s star quarterback Drake Maye, Jeff Brohm‘s long-awaited arrival as the head coach at Louisville, and whether or not Duke can repeat success in year two under Mike Elko.

The conference’s future is uncertain, but the 2023 season should be exciting.

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ACC Favorite: Clemson +150

The Clemson Tigers are a narrow favorite to capture their ninth ACC Championship under head coach Dabo Swinney. The Tigers hired Garrett Riley as offensive coordinator in hopes of reinvigorating a floundering offense. He’ll have plenty of weapons, including quarterback Cade Klubnik, running backs Will Shipley and Phil Mafah, and pass-catching weapons Antonio Williams and Jake Briningstool. The offensive line should be solid, but Clemson does need a couple of receivers to step up and become difference-makers for Klubnik to get to the next level. On paper, the defense should be one of the country’s best. There are all-conference performers at every level, and the linebacker trio of Barrett Carter, Jeremiah Trotter Jr., and Wade Woodaz is as good as it gets. 

ACC Sleeper Prediction: Louisville +1000

Clemson and Florida State are the easy choices as favorites and have shorter odds than anyone else in the league. The best long shot is Louisville and new head coach Jeff Brohm. The Cardinals are +1000 to win the league and have as favorable of a schedule as a major conference team can. Louisville only plays three true road games all season: North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, and Miami. They avoid Clemson and Florida State altogether and get to host Notre Dame, Boston College, Duke, Virginia Tech, and Virginia. There are legitimate questions about the talent ceiling of Brohm’s first Louisville team, but the schedule is set up for a massive first season. The Cardinals could swoop in to take the league if Clemson and Florida State suffer injuries.

Favorite Over ACC Pick: North Carolina State – 6.5 Wins

Dave Doeren became the head coach of the North Carolina State Wolfpack before the 2013 season. NC State went just 3-9 that season. Since then, they have won at least seven games in every season except for 2019. Doeren teams, almost by rule, have a winning record somewhere between seven and nine games. This season should be no different, making the Wolfpack over 6.5 wins a strong bet. Brennan Armstrong left Virginia to be reunited with new offensive coordinator Robert Anae. The pair were dynamic in 2021 before floundering apart. If Armstrong is healthy, he should return to being one of the league’s top quarterbacks. The defense held opponents to less than 20 points per game in 2022 and returns six starters. NC State does not play Florida State, and they get to host Clemson and North Carolina in Carter-Finley Stadium. They also have a manageable non-conference slate.

Favorite Under ACC Pick: Virginia Tech – 5.5 Wins

The Virginia Tech Hokies had a miserable first season under head coach Brent Pry, winning only three games and struggling to score. The Hokies scored only 19.9 points per game, and there’s not much reason for optimism. The quarterback will be either Grant Wells or Baylor transfer Kyron Drones, and neither has proven they can lead a winning offense. The defense was a little better, but there are significant questions about the talent returning on the line and at linebacker. The schedule is a problem with two Big Ten teams, a road game at Marshall in the non-conference slate, road trips to Florida State, Louisville, and Boston College, and challenging home games against Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, and Syracuse

Top ACC Heisman Candidate: Jordan Travis +1200

Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis has the fourth-shortest odds in college football to win the Heisman Trophy, behind only Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Quinn Ewers. Travis is slightly ahead of fellow ACC quarterbacks Maye and Klubnik. Travis threw for 3,214 yards and added 417 yards on the ground in a stellar 2023 season. He has an early showcase matchup against Daniels and the LSU Tigers, and the Seminoles added offensive weapons. If the Seminoles stay in the top ten all season and USC falters, Travis will be right in the mix to win the Heisman Trophy.

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Thumbnail photo via Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

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