There are two sides to every story, and perception can often dictate which direction your thought will go. In some regards, the ACC has done some remarkable things. The conference has posted back-to-back seasons of sending 11 teams to the post-season, and swept their conference rivals the SEC, something the ACC hasn’t accomplished since 2003. Although Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Louisville all faced SEC East teams last season, it’s still a viable feat.

That’s where the divide between what you see and what you believe begins. I’ll toss another one at you, which division had the most wins against Power 5 teams in 2014 than any other Power 5 conference? It’s not the SEC, it’s little ole ACC, including four wins against teams ranked in the top ten at that time. However, five of those wins came against teams with six or fewer wins.

What we saw last season was basically the Florida State show, coming from behind in multiple games to eventually get the win. The Seminoles were defending their National Championship from 2013 after defeating Auburn, a viable SEC opponent. FSU wore the target on their back and kept on winning. Hidden in the shadows were about 5-6 teams in my opinion taking tremendous steps forward in the conference. This could easily be a sign of good things to come from the ACC.

ACC Atlantic Predictions

2015 Projections
Teams Conf. Record Overall Record Win Total
Clemson 6-2 10-2 Over 9
Florida State 6-2 9-3 Under 9.5
NC State 5-3 9-3 Over 7.5
Louisville 4-4 7-5 Under 7.5
Boston College 3-5 6-6 Over 5.5
Wake Forest 2-6 4-8 Over 3.5
Syracuse 1-7 2-10 Under 4.5

It’s safe to say that FSU won’t be as good as last season, too much talent gone including former Heisman winner Jameis Winston departing for the NFL. There is a lot more parity within the Atlantic division as well, considering the upside of teams like Clemson, NC State an Boston College. The strongest team in the Atlantic division right now seems to be Clemson. The defense is stacked and the offense should put out a better performance than last year. Louisville is looking like another sleeper in the division, but losing ten players to the NFL draft could hinder things for the redbirds. The Wolfpack’s looking more and more like a quality football team as pre-season training continues as well. With all this parity the Atlantic division is definitely up for grabs.

Although the level of competition seems to have leveled out in the Atlantic, teams like Wake Forest and Syracuse are projected to have down seasons. The gap between FSU and Clemson compared to the teams listed above to finish in the bottom tier of the division seems rather wide.

The teams projected to finish in the middle of the division could be considered live dogs to surprise the division and possibly steal a conference crown. Boston College and NC State have some strong systems in place, and both teams are creating their own identities and own styles of play.

ACC Coastal Predictions

2015 Projections
Teams Conf. Record Overall Record Win Total
Georgia Tech 7-1 11-1 Over 7.5
Virginia Tech 6-2 9-3 Over 8
Pittsburgh 5-3 8-4 Over 6
Duke 4-4 7-5 Over 7
North Carolina 4-4 7-5 Under 7.5
Miami (FL) 3-5 5-7 Under 6.5
Virginia 1-7 2-10 Under 4

The Coastal division has been appointed the title of the little brother when compared to the Atlantic division. I’ve made a lot of ACC comparisons to the SEC, and one could say the ACC Coastal division bare’s a striking similarity to the SEC East. However, if you sit and compare both conferences top to bottom, you’ll find more balance and consistency from the Coastal division over the SEC East.

Georgia Tech is the odds on favorite to come out on top of the Coastal division. The Yellow Jackets are a machine on the offensive end and look a lot stronger on the defensive side of the ball. After Georgia Tech, things get bottle-necked a little bit. One could argue that with the exception of UVA, every team in the division has a legitimate shot of making it to the conference championship game.

The sleeper of the whole conference is Virginia Tech. The Hokies came on strong at the end of last year, and should be entering this season high on confidence. The talent Frank Beamer has to work with at Virginia Tech might be the best he’s seen with the program. The Hokies opening the season against the 2014 defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes will be an instant measuring stick contest for VT.

Duke has turned a lot of heads in the last couple seasons. With results the Blue Devils can hang their hat on, Duke has all the confidence in the world that they are a legit contender. Pitt’s coming off a tough luck season in 2014, but could possibly see a giant leap forward with this season’s level of talent for the Panthers.

You  can make a case for North Carolina and Miami as well. Both the Tar Heels and the Canes are going to find themselves in games this year where the whole season will really come down to one play, and the performance of that play will dictate the fate of both these programs. That’s how close the edge of the cliff is, with this division predicted to be rather tight we could see photo finish at the end.

ACC Championship Game: Clemson defeats Georgia Tech

Let’s continue this theme,  two power five conferences had five teams with nine or more wins last season, and both conferences were represented in the College Football Playoffs. Can you guess? If you guessed the ACC and SEC you are correct. Yet this is where the double-standard begins. Earning victories in the SEC is a badge of honor. Gutting out wins in the ACC is a demerit. Will we see another clean sweep between the ACC and the SEC, like we did that one faithful Saturday last season? That’s highly doubtful, but the fact that these other conferences are, “catching up,” to the SEC only leads to believe that we might be over-valuing one conference and undervaluing another.

More College Football Predictions