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2024 ACC win totals: Analyzing schedule projections where Florida State, Clemson, Miami all share the same preseason over/under

On3 imageby:Jesse Simonton06/05/24


We’ve officially hit the dog days of the college football offseason, as recruiting takes center stage over the next month while teams eagerly (or wearily!) await media days and training camp. 

The transfer portal has mostly been emptied of impact players and most all 2024 signees are on campus by now, too. Overall, we have as good of a read on these teams that we’ll get until August. 

Not too long ago, On3 partner Fan Duel updated its 2024 regular-season win totals.

We kickstarted the series looking at the latest SEC projections. Yesterday, I analyzed the Big Ten win totals and today we dig into the ACC.

The new-look bi-coastal league doesn’t have a single program with a preseason win-total in the double-digits, but it’s a crowded crop at the top with Florida State, Clemson, Miami, NC State, Virginia Tech and Louisville all with over/under projections at 8.5-9.5. 

So it should be a fun, competitive fight for who makes it to Charlotte for the league title game. Elsewhere, Syracuse could surprise some this fall, while both Cal and SMU hope to make some noise in Year 1 in a new conference.

With the latest information post-portal, post-spring, here’s a little Too High? Too Low? Just Right? with the 2024 ACC win total projections. 

bill o'brien-ohio state-ohio state football-buckeyes
Bill O’Brien was introduced as the next Boston College head coach on Feb. 15 (Photo courtesy of BC Football)

Boston College: 4.5 — Too High

Thomas Castellanos returns as one of the more exciting quarterbacks in the ACC in 2024, and the sophomore should benefit from working under new head coach Bill O’Brien and his pass-happy scheme. The Eagles brought in some nice pieces to support Castellanos, too, including former Kansas State tailback Treshaun Ward, Vandy wideout Jayden McGowan and Texas Tech receiver Jerand Bradley

However, BC’s defense, which does return eight starters, stunk last season (ACC-worst 6.29 yards per play allowed) and the schedule is significantly more difficult this fall. The Eagles open at Florida State, must travel to Missouri in Week 3 and have a couple of other tricky non-conference games against Michigan State and Western Kentucky. There’s a reason why Jeff Hafley walked away from a 7-6 team bringing back one of the brighter starting QBs in the ACC.

Cal: 6.5 — Just Right

Justin Wilcox is aiming to make a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2018-19, and he might have the best tailback in the ACC this fall with the return of former All-Pac 12 standout Jaydn Ott. The Bears exited the spring with an ongoing quarterback battle between incumbent starter Fernando Mendoza and North Texas transfer Chandler Rogers, both of whom performed well. The roster looks improved from last season, too, as Wilcox was aggressive in the transfer portal including 11 additions post-spring. 

And yet, outside of UCLA, no school in America likely has a more arduous travel schedule than Cal in 2024. Welcome to the ACC for the Bay Area Bears. They play at Auburn and also have FSU, Miami and NC State on the schedule. A postseason appearance looks realistic, but it’s going to be a tightrope waltz to 6+ wins. 

Clemson: 9.5 — Just Right

Dabo Swinney continues to quadruple-down on his refusal to use the transfer portal (zero additions in 2024 — the only power conference school in the country to do so), but the Tigers have a preseason win total that suggests they’re capable of winning the ACC and making the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2020.

Although the defense lost productive players like Nate Wiggins, Ruke Orhorhoro, Xavier Thomas and Jeremiah Trotter Jr. to the NFL Draft, and safety Andrew Mukuba transferred to Texas, the unit still boasts one of the top defensive lines in the country and 5-star freshman Sammy Brown projects as a plug-and-play replacement for Trotter at linebacker. They upgraded at receiver with a pair of Top 50 freshmen, but there are ongoing concerns around Cade Klubnik‘s lack of consistency and an offensive line short on depth. The first five weeks of the season are tough (Georgia, App. State, NC State and Florida State), but if the Tigers can navigate the opening month, this should be a 9-10 win team.

Duke: 6.5 — Just Right

Manny Diaz is back in the ACC, taking over a resurgent program formerly led by new Texas A&M head coach Mike Elko.  The Blue Devils went 8-5 in 2023, but many of the key pieces off that team are now elsewhere in the ACC or at Notre Dame. Diaz did bring in Texas transfer quarterback Maalik Murphy to battle with Grayson Loftis for the QB1 role. He also reloaded the OL room with seven transfers. The defense, his specialty after fielding Top 5 units at Penn State the last two years, remains a major work in progress, though. 

Duke’s schedule has a real Jekyll and Hyde feel to it. The non-conference slate is odd (road games at Northwestern and MTSU) but still among the easier four-game slates in the ACC. The league schedule though is daunting with games against six of the top seven teams in terms of preseason win totals. 

Florida State: 9.5 — Too Low

After losing nearly every notable star off last year’s undefeated ACC Championship team, Mike Norvell went transfer-heavy to reload FSU’s roster, and exiting the spring, it looks like Norvell remains the Portal King with hits on tailbacks Jaylin Lucas and Roydell Williams, edge Marvin Jones, nickel Earl Little and linebacker Shawn Murphy, among others. 

FSU’s ultimate success will hinge on the play of quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, but the former Clemson/Oregon State transfer will be buoyed by as much support as he’s ever had. The schedule has a pair of difficult road games (at Miami, at Notre Dame), but the ‘Noles will be favored (significantly in most cases) in every other game this season.

Georgia Tech: 5.5 — Too High

The Yellow Jackets upset Miami and North Carolina last season to make the postseason for the first time since 2018, but the books see a slight regression season with maybe the most difficult schedule (non-conference included) in the ACC in 2024. 

While Georgia Tech returns quarterback Haynes King (who led the league in touchdowns and interceptions last season), 1,000-yard rusher Jamal Haynes and infused a bad defense (worst in the ACC in 2023) with 11 newcomers via the portal, it has just five true home games on the slate this fall. The Yellow Jackets open against FSU in Ireland and end the season against top-ranked Georgia in Athens. In between, they play at Syracuse, Louisville, North Carolina and Virginia Tech and draw Notre Dame, Miami and NC State at home. That’s a gauntlet by ACC standards.

Louisville: 8.5 — Just Right

The Cardinals capitalized on a cake schedule last season to reach the ACC Championship, and though the slate stiffens this fall, Jeff Brohm hit the portal with vigor again in hopes of returning to Charlotte. The Cards’ impressive crop of transfers includes quarterback Tyler Shough, receivers Caullin Lacy and Ja’Corey Brooks, and running back Don Chaney, among others, and they return top defensive stars edge rusher Ashton Gillotte and cornerback Quincy Riley

With a schedule that includes road games at Notre Dame, Clemson, Stanford (just a tough trip) and Kentucky, I’m not sure another 10-win season is in the cards, but Louisville should win at least eight games with this roster against the rest of the ACC.

Miami: 9.5 — Just Right

The Miami Hurricanes and lofty offseason expectations, what could go wrong? The Canes have the same preseason win-total as Florida State and Clemson, with better odds than the Tigers to actually win their first ACC Championship thanks to a splashy spring where Mario Cristobal landed top targets tailback Damien Martinez, Michigan State defensive tackle Simeon Barrow, Marshall corner D’Yoni Hill and Houston receiver Sam Brown, among others. 

Cam Ward projects to be Miami’s best quarterback since Malik Rosier in 2017? The wideout room is strong, and the defensive line could be the best in the conference. Can the Miami avoid a cataclysmic home loss or a no-show on the road, though? The Canes open at Florida and play a pesky USF team in Tampa in Week 4. They’re likely to be favored in at least 10 or 11 games this season, but Miami has won double-digit games just once as a member of the ACC. It’s put up or shut up time in Coral Gables.

NC State: 8.5 — Too Low

NC State is looking to make its first ACC title game in school history, and despite Dave Doeren’s inability to crack the 10-win plateau, there are real reasons to be excited about the Wolfpack in 2024. They bring back All-ACC corner Aydan White and pass rusher Davin Vann, and they hit the portal for a quarterback (Grayson McCall) and two tailbacks (Jordan Waters and Hollywood Smothers) and a pair of receivers (Noah Rogers and Wesley Grimes). KC Concepcion is already among the best wideouts in the ACC, and he should be even more productive with steadier quarterback play. 

The schedule is more than manageable this season — even with a Week 2 non-conference game against Tennessee in Charlotte. NC State does play at Clemson and UNC, but it misses both FSU and Miami. 

North Carolina: 7.5 — Just Right

Could this be a make-or-break season for Mack Brown and the Tar Heels? While Brown isn’t in danger of being fired, the longtime head coach could be pushed into retirement if UNC continues to trend in the wrong direction after losing five of its last seven games in 2023. The program wasted NFL quarterbacks Sam Howell and Drake Maye, and now it enters the fall with uncertainty at the position. Texas A&M transfer Max Johnson failed to grab the job during spring practice, which promoted Brown to add boomerang transfer Jacolby Criswell back from Arkansas. 

The program was able to retain top ACC rusher Omarion Hampton and pass rusher Kaimon Rucker. Can former Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins fix a faulty defense? Can the Heels avoid a third-straight November swoon? If so, the schedule isn’t overly daunting — even with a coin-flip opener at Minnesota.

Pitt: 5.5 — Too High

Coming off a pitiful 3-9 season, the Panthers are looking to return to a bowl game this fall — but you have to squint to find six wins with this roster and schedule. Pat Narduzzi brought in Western Carolina coordinator Kade Bell to infuse Pitt’s lifeless offense with some juice, but the quarterback options (Alabama transfer Eli Holstein and Nate Yarnell) aren’t overly inspiring. The Panthers also saw their top defensive players all leave the program (Dayon Hayes, Solomon DeShields and Samuel Okunlola). 

Although Pitt misses FSU, Miami and NC State, the Panthers do play an improved Cincy team on the road, have their Backyard Brawl against West Virginia, a fringe Top 25 team, and host Clemson in late November. I’m not sure the floor for this team is even five wins.  

SMU: 7.5 — Just Right

The reigning AAC Champions are looking to make some immediate noise in the ACC in Year 1, with head coach Rhett Lashlee confident the Mustangs can be competitive on a weekly basis in a power conference. Quarterback Preston Stone is back, as is the foundation of the offense that averaged 38.7 points per game last season. They did lose a couple of key starting offensive linemen this spring, but they dipped into the portal to address holes along the OL, DL and wideout. 

The question will be does SMU have the depth to withstand the body blows of playing an ACC schedule, plus non-conference games against BYU and TCU? There’s enough talent in Dallas for the Mustangs to win nine games, but in a transition season for the program, 7-5 or 8-4 looks more realistic.

Stanford: 3.5 — Just Right

The Cardinal have the lowest preseason win-total in the ACC — among old and all newcomers. Second-year head coach Troy Taylor inherited a near impossible situation and the roster has only worsened thanks to a host of other impact transfers this spring. Eric Ayomanor is one of the best wideouts in the nation, but he doesn’t have much help around him. 

The hope is Stanford’s defense will show marginal improvements with the return of outside linebacker David Bailey (six sacks) and the growth of some younger players, but this is still a unit that was last in the Pac-12 in yards per play allowed last season. The offense was a mess, too (last in scoring vs. conference foes) and 4-star freshman quarterback signee Elijah Brown isn’t expected to be ready to start in 2024. Even finding three wins looks tricky, but it’s hard to hang a number lower than that for a power conference team. 

Syracuse: 7.5 — Just Right

Did the Orange hit the 2024 college football lottery? They hired a charismatic, energetic head coach in Fran Brown, who immediately went into overdrive flipping the roster. He brought in several blue-chip recruits and added impact transfers like former Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord, Alabama defensive lineman Isaiah Hastings, Texas A&M edge Fadil Diggs, LSU corner Darian Chestnut and a trio of his former Georgia Bulldogs players. Syracuse also has among the most favorable schedules nationally this fall. 

The Orange don’t play a single power conference team outside of the ACC, and there’s no Florida State or Clemson on the slate, either. There’s a possible path to eight or even nine victories, but can a first-time head coach be trusted to win so many toss-up games? 

Virginia: 4.5 — Too High

The Hoos finished with the second-worst record in the ACC in 2023, but they did make some strides offensively that provides the program and inkling of hope in a pivotal Year 3 for Tony Elliott. Virginia lost some depth to its roster but was able to hold onto most of its top players from last year’s team. Still, the spring ended with Elliott yet to decide on a quarterback. Based on the returns from last season, sophomore Anthony Colandrea has far more upside and talent (8.0 yards per attempt, 13 touchdowns) compared to the veteran transfer Tony Muskett, but he’s yet to run away with the job. Can the Hoos also replace wideout Malik Washington, who led the ACC in receptions and yards in 2023?

I’m a bit confused by what the books see here with UVA’s schedule, too. The Cavs might be favored in all of three games all season — and a Week 4 road trip to Coastal Carolina is absolutely losable. They also draw Maryland and Notre Dame in the non-conference and have road trips at Clemson and Va. Tech. 

Virginia Tech: 8.5 — Just Right

The Hokies have not-so-quietly become among the offseason darlings. They rank No. 5 nationally in returning production (including No. 1 on offense with the return of quarterback Kyron Drones and a host of playmakers led by tailback Bhayshul Tuten (863 yards, 10 touchdowns) and should have one of the best pass rushes in the ACC (Antwaun Powell-Ryland, Cole Nelson, Duke transfer Aeneas Peebles and JUCO tackle Kamari Copeland). 

If Brent Pry can get similar defensive play out of a strong 2023 unit (No. 3 in the ACC in yards per play allowed, best pass defense in the league) coupled with a full season with Drones as the starter, the Hokies could be a sleeper contender this fall. The schedule isn’t terrible either, with Vanderbilt and Rutgers (who is a quality team this fall) both coming to Blacksburg. Va. Tech could conceivably win 10-11 games on its schedule or lose as many as five, so this number looks right after it originally opened at 7.5 before the spring. 

Wake Forest: 4.5 — Just Right

The Demon Deacons hit rock-bottom last fall, missing a bowl game for the first time in eight years under veteran head coach Dave Clawson. It wasn’t just the loss of quarterback  Sam Hartman, either, as Wake Forest fielded one of the worst offensive lines in the country last season (ACC-worst 49 sacks allowed, 3.3 yards per carry). Clawson recruited Boise State/La Tech transfer Hank Bachmeier to battle with Michael Kern for the QB1 job, but Wake Forest did little else in the portal to address key holes across the roster. 

This number dropped from 5.5 after the spring, as the Demon Deacons are now without their top four wideouts from last season and No. 1 corner DaShawn Jones). They play Ole Miss in the non-conference and draw three of the top four teams in the league (Clemson, Miami, NC State — two away from home). Even making a bowl game looks like an uphill battle.