ACC spotlight: Farrell's title pick, bold predictions
Football season is finally upon us and with that, it’s time to break down each Power Five conference and make some bold predictions. Today we continue with the ACC.
ACC Atlantic Champion: Clemson. This is the easy pick, but who else are you going to take for the division? Clemson is a powerhouse and whether quarterback Kelly Bryant keeps his job for the season or Trevor Lawrence takes it away, the defense alone will carry them to the title.
ACC Coastal Champion: Miami. The ‘Canes should be the winner just like last year, so a rematch in the ACC Championship Game is in order. Miami has some impressive young talent and that opportunistic defense, but the season will come down to how well quarterback Malik Rosier does and how far he develops.
ACC Champion: Clemson. The Tigers are headed to the playoff again as they handle Miami pretty handily in the title game.
Coach of the Year: Dabo Swinney, Clemson. It’s usually some coach from a team that surprises, but Swinney deserves his second coach of the year award if his team runs the table or comes close.
Hot Seat City: Larry Fedora, UNC. I could go with Syracuse's Dino Babers here, but Fedora is under a microscope because of last season’s awful performance and how NC State is taking over in-state recruiting. Fedora needs to avoid another horrible year or his seat will get hotter and hotter.
Biggest Surprise: Boston College. Led by A.J. Dillon and that rushing attack along with an underrated defense, this is a team that could pull off a few upsets and push for No. 2 in its division. Keep an eye on the Eagles if they get on a roll.
Biggest Disappointment: Louisville. The Cardinals are going to struggle without Lamar Jackson and could lose a few games they should win. Bobby Petrino could be under fire after this year if they underperform as I expect.
As Expected: Virginia Tech. The Hokies will have a solid season, finish second in the division and push Miami hard but will fall short. That’s what everyone expects and I’m in that group as well.
A Year Away: Florida State. Is Willie Taggart the right coach for this team? We will find out this season as the talent on the roster won’t be an issue and anything less than a second-place finish behind Clemson in division will be unacceptable. If he rights the ship this year, watch out for the 2019 season.
Building for the Future: Miami. The recruiting is at a level we haven’t seen since the Butch Davis days and the roster talent is growing with each class. Miami is building a team that could eventually win the ACC and not just its own division.
Conference Offensive MVP: Cam Akers, Florida State. He has a 1,500-yard season and becomes the most impressive offensive player in the league. We saw flashes of his greatness last year and this is the year he takes it to the next level.
Conference Defensive MVP: Jaquan Johnson, Miami. The key defender on the Miami defense will be avoided a bit but will still make plenty of big plays and have a great season. Whether it’s in the passing game or run support, this guy is everywhere and will get more attention than many expect.
Best NFL Prospect: Christian Wilkins, Clemson. Wilkins can do it all. He can play tackle or end, and is so disruptive he allows other players on his team to stuff the stat sheet. Scouts are drooling over him; the only question here is whether or not one of his defensive line teammates gets drafted ahead of him.
True Freshman of the Year: Brevin Jordan, Miami. A tight end? With Lorenzo Lingard potentially struggling for carries, I’m going with Jordan from Miami as he'll have a huge year catching the ball. The ACC is loaded with young talent and true freshmen who can impact, but watch out for this guy in Miami’s offense.
Breakout Player: Tee Higgins, Clemson. Akers has kind of already broken out so I’m going with Higgins, who will be an absolute star at Clemson this season. He should break out and could become the top target by mid-season.