With the end of the 2022 ACC regular season, here is a look at where the teams finished in our ACC Power Rankings:
The Tigers struggled to find a groove this season on offense, but they made a big change in the ACC Championship Game when they pulled DJ
Uiagalelei in exchange for Cade Klubnik. The Tigers seemed to have found the missing link on offense and capped off a great season on a high note. They will be poised to make another title run in 2023 with the group they have returning. Had they not stumbled against in-state rival South Carolina they would probably be playing for the National Title. Instead they will have to settle for the Orange Bowl against Tennessee.
2. Florida State
No one had a better year, in terms of pre-season expectations, than Florida State as the Seminoles put it all together and won nine games for the first time since Jimbo Fisher left in 2017. The team expunged some demons and found the QB to lead them into a 2023 season that will be hyped with Jordan Travis. Florida State will always recruit well but they haven’t put it all together under Mike Norvell. It seems like the days of the old ACC are back with Clemson and Florida state atop the rankings to end the season and most likely to start the next season.
3. NC State
Most teams would kill for the No. 3 spot in the power rankings, but it feels a little hollow for North Carolina State. Entering the season as the pre-season favorites with the pre-season Player of the year… finishing 8-4 is a bummer. The defense was tough all year but the team was unable to survive the loss of QB Devin Leary, who subsequently entered the transfer portal at the end of the season. The team was still tough, beat those who they should have in conference play (excluding the controversial loss to Boston College) and knocked off arch-rival North Carolina. Football is a funny sport and if the ball doesn’t bounce your way, bad things will happen. When the pre-season hype is too large, those things seem to compound. Dave Doeren will head in to an off-season looking for ways to improve his team’s chances of competing in an improved ACC next year.
4. North Carolina
The Tar Heels had a fantastic year by all accounts with Drake Maye bursting on to the scene as the ACC Player of the Year among a number of other accolades. But the team fell short of the top tier in these power rankings, losing their last three games. There is a lot to like about this team heading into 2023 but once again, the defense needs to improve in a hurry. Mack Brown did a fantastic job with this talented roster and has them primed to make a significant jump in the coming years.
The Cardinals were a tough team all season who struggled at different points, but finished strong winning five of their last seven. The defense improved, the offense gelled and the team looked to take a step forward. For all of their accomplishments in 2022, I ranked the Cardinals at No. 5 with the head-to-head tiebreaker over Pitt. The bad news (maybe good news for some?) is that head coach Scott Satterfield bolted for Cincinnati once the season ended. A familiar face in Louisville in Jeff Brohm returns in what seems like a home-run hire for the Cardinals.
The 2022 campaign was a disappointing one for the Panthers after the team won the ACC in 2021. They were able to bounce back with a strong November, going 4-0 to finish with a respectable 8-4 record. The offense was never daunting despite a fantastic rushing attack, but the defense was a top unit in the conference once again. There is a lot to build on going in to 2023 but it remains to be seen if the pro-style offensive attack will work in the ACC.
The biggest surprise of the season was without a doubt the Duke Blue Devils. Last year they were arguably the worst team in the conference and this year they turned in an 8-4 campaign as one of the most competitive teams in the ACC. I am excited to see what head coach Mike Elko can do in this offseason to make Duke even better for 2023.
The Syracuse Orange started out like house on fire, but then petered off losing five of their last six after starting 6-0. They did pull a big upset over North Carolina State to launch them in to the rankings but the tough schedule got the better of them. They were able to salvage the season with a victory against BC. The team is going to their first bowl game since 2018 and by all accounts had a successful season. I am looking for the Orange to take another incremental step forwards in 2023.
9. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets fired head coach Geoff Collins mid-season and then played better than they have during his entire tenure. I am giving the Yellow Jackets the edge over Wake Forest due to that inspired play. It is far from what the folks at Georgia Tech would like but the program took a small step forward during this season. We will see if they can keep up this momentum as they head in to the offseason.
10. Wake Forest
It was a disappointing year by all accounts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The team was coming off their best season since 2006 and returned the most prolific passer in school only to flounder their way to 7-5. I was expecting more from the Deacons and I am sure their fans were as well. Luckily, Dave Clawson is a good coach and they can retool for next year.
The first year of the Mario Cristobal era at the University of Miami was an abject failure on the field. The team was terrible in all the phases of the game despite having an impressive roster. The Hurricanes are recruiting well off the field but it begs the question of will it matter if this is how they will be coached? The leash is rather long for this head coach but it won’t be that way for much longer if he follows up this poor season with another stinker.
12. Boston College
Woof. It was a terrible year for the Boston College Eagles. The team regressed in year three of the Jeff Hafley era and it does not look like the future is much brighter. The offensive line is huge problem and the team is lacking skill at every other position. The offseason didn’t start out much better with star quarterback Phil Jurkovec transfering to in-conference rival Pitt. An embarrassing loss to UConn summed up where the program is at right now: Dead last in New England football.
The tragedy that happened to the football team was an absolute tragedy, plain and simple.
Tony Elliott’s first year as football coach of the Virginia Cavaliers was terrible as the offensive philosophy never worked and the team struggled to win three games. Starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong looked nothing like his former self and bolted in the transfer portal. I do not see the program taking a step forward for a long time but it is Elliott’s job to turn this once proud program around. We shall see what the off-season has in store for the Cavaliers.
14. Virginia Tech
Disappointing might be putting it lightly when describing the current state of the Hokies football team. The team was horrible on offense, soft on defense, and overall listless in 11 games this season. The team was expecting their tough-nosed defense to continue when they brought in the defensive savant Brent Pry to be head coach, but it did not materialize on the field. This roster is one of the worst in the P5 and needs a serious overall. It might be a few years before the Hokies are back in the top half of the power rankings.