Welcome to theBRKDWN’s inaugural College Football Cheat Sheet Series! The slowest time of the sports year is winding down with NFL training camp in full swing and college football kicking off this weekend.
Not everyone has the time to research and break down every team in college football before the upcoming season, so we at theBRKDWN wanted to help. These cheat sheets will help every college football fanatic be prepared in knowing the ins and outs of the contenders for each division.
Today, we will roll on to the ACC, so sit back, relax, turn on some hype videos and enjoy the cheat sheet series as you prepare for the season.
#1 Clemson Tigers
- Return 12 starters — eight on offense, four on defense.
- Rank 50th on the Phil Steele experience chart. Return 80.6 percent of yards and 71.2 percent of tackles from last season. Returning offensive linemen have 69 combined starts.
- Trevor Lawrence is coming off the greatest season ever recorded by a true freshman quarterback — and he only started 11 games.
- Schedule highlights: Texas A&M Sept. 7, @Syracuse Sept. 14, Florida State Oct. 12, @South Carolina Nov. 30
- Season Projection: This team has an embarrassment of riches all over the field. They return every key offensive skill player who helped put on that crowd-pleasing beatdown of Alabama in the national title. It’s Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross — and that’s really all you need to know. The schedule is a cake-walk back to the CFP, outside of an early test against Texas A&M in Death Valley. 13-0 and bet all the overs.
#22 Syracuse Orange
- Return 13 starters — six on offense, seven on defense.
- Rank 59th on the experience chart. Return 43.6 percent of yards and 65.2 percent of tackles. Returning offensive linemen have 98 starts combined.
- Schedule highlights: Clemson Sept. 14, @Florida State Oct. 26
- Season Projection: If what we saw from projected starting quarterback Tommy DeVito last season is what Orange fans have to look forward to this year, the Cuse might be in some trouble. I’ll be optimistic and say he improves from his struggles, but their main problem is being in the same division as Clemson. Sure, the Carrier Dome will be rocking when the Tigers come to town, but it would take a miracle for the Orange to pull off the upset. 9-3 year for the Cuse.
- Return 12 starters — six on each side.
- Rank 104th on the experience chart. Return 53.5 percent of yards and 64.5 percent of tackles from a season ago. Returning offensive linemen have only 30 combined starts.
- Redshirt freshman Jarren Williams beat out Ohio State-transfer Tate Martell for the starting quarterback position.
- Schedule highlights: vs. Florida (Orlando) Aug. 24, Virginia Tech Oct. 5, Virginia Oct. 12, @Florida State Nov. 2
- Season Projection: Folks just want the U to be back so badly, but it appears they’ll have to wait another season for that wish to come true. I’m not saying they won’t compete for the Coastal title, but I believe losing a lot of talent from a decent team is not a recipe for success in the “being BACK” business. 8-4 year for the Canes in Manny Diaz’s first season.
Virginia Tech Hokies
- Return 16 starters — six on offense, 10 on defense.
- Rank 41st on the experience chart. Return 68.4 percent of yards and 86.3 percent of tackles from last season. Returning offensive linemen have 51 combined starts.
- Schedule highlights: @Miami Oct. 5, @Notre Dame Nov. 2, @Virginia Friday, Nov. 29
- Season Projection: The good news for the Hokies is, they have pretty much their entire defense back from a season ago. The bad news is, this defense stunk out loud a season ago. They are going to have to improve on both sides of the ball if they want any chance of getting back to Charlotte for the ACC title game. This is an experienced team coming back, but experience doesn’t always mean you’re a good team. 7-5 for the Hokies, but they get past Old Dominion.
- Return 14 starters — six on offense, eight on defense.
- Rank 56th on the experience chart. Return 69(nice) percent of yards and 71.3 percent of tackles from last season. Returning offensive linemen have 46 combined starts.
- Schedule highlights: Florida State Sept. 14, @Notre Dame Sept. 28, @Miami Oct. 12, Virginia Tech Friday, Nov. 29
- Season Projection: Fortunately for Bronco Mendenhall and the Wahoos, Bryce Perkins is back for his senior season and the chance to lose to Clemson in Charlotte at the end of the season. I believe Perkins will improve enough from last season to help his team win enough games to get there. I’m drinking the Wahoo Kool-Aid this year to the tune of a 9-3 record and a trip to Charlotte.
ACC Championship (Charlotte, NC)
Clemson 59 vs. Virginia 21
- The only real question about this match-up is how many points Clemson is going to put up. Perkins and Virginia are a pretty good team, but no one in the ACC is stopping this Clemson offense, plain and simple. Lawrence and the Tigers head back to the CFP for a fifth-consecutive season.
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