Because I felt the need to have something to endlessly defend throughout the season, I released some bold predictions this week.
Each one is specific and quantifiable. In other words, we can revisit this in December and find out whether or not my hot takes turn into freezing cold takes. We begin in the Atlantic division:
Louisville will finish the season with a top five ACC defense
As far as I look at it, the Cardinals will completely switch gears to a defensive-minded team in 2021. The departures of running back Javian Hawkins and receivers Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick will be accounted for on the other side of the ball.
From 2019 to 2020, the Cardinals improved their defensive drive efficiency from 103th to 65th in the FBS. I expect the improvement to be even more drastic into 2021.
On the line, Yasir Abdullah’s 2020 pass rush grade was in the 90th percentile in the power five and YaYa Diaby is destined to break out.
Linebackers Monty Montgomery and C.J. Avery have plenty of quality experience in Scott Satterfield’s hybrid 4-2-5 system.
And the secondary appears to be the personnel’s most exciting unit. In addition to Kei’Trel Clark, who has been well documented as my CB1 in the conference, Georgia Southern transfer Kendrick Duncan shows plenty of promise at safety.
While others may see this take as a stretch, I think it is certainly possible.
The ACC’s two Florida schools will win less than 15 combines games
Miami’s over/under win total is set at 9.5 while Florida State’s is 5.5.
This take entails more of Miami underwhelming than anything. The Hurricanes play Alabama, Michigan State, and Appalachian State in the non-conference. To even win eight to nine games, Miami would need to dominate the ACC, and I am not convinced they are leaps and bounds above the majority of the coastal.
Florida State has a high ceiling on offense but losses defensively are concerning. As Vegas indicates, it is certainly possible Mike Norvell to underwhelm in season two.
The coastal division winner finishes within two games of the following three teams
In other words, my projected coastal winner, North Carolina, does not run away with the division.
According to the Vegas implied odds, there is an approximately 85% chance that either UNC or Miami appear in the conference championship game. But the middle of the pack — Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pitt, and Georgia Tech — all can remain much more competitive.
Here would be a theoretical look at the division that puts this prediction into practice
- North Carolina: 6-2
- Miami: 6-2 (head to head loss)
- Pittsburgh: 5-3
- Virginia Tech: 4-4
- Virginia: 3-5
- Georgia Tech 3-5
- Duke: 1-7
While UNC has the potential to be in the playoff picture, it is equally as likely that they disappoint and drop some games.
What the Fans Have to Say
We asked ACC Twitter to give their thoughts and I want to preface with the actual definition of a “hot take.” For a take to be “hot,” you have to believe in it more than the public but it also has to be largely disagreed upon.
Clemson going bowling this year is not a “hot take.”
Now that I got that mini rant behind me, let’s dig in.
Easy. NC State will play in a NY6 Bowl.
— Light It Red™️ (@LightItRed) August 9, 2021
This one definitely fits the criteria and even to a larger extent than you may think. In 2021, the Orange Bowl is part of the College Football Playoff, so the ACC does not get an auto-bid. Making a New Years Six game requires the Pack to not only be the best non-playoff bound team in the conference but to be in the top ten range.
I love NC State to exceed their projected 6-game win total this year but this is too much of a stretch for me.
Pitt gets off to a 6-0 start
— John Eads (@John_Eads3) August 9, 2021
This is a solid one. Pittsburgh’s first six games are against UMass, Tennessee (road game), Western Michigan, New Hampshire, Georgia Tech (road game), and Virginia Tech (road game). While the Panthers should be favorites in at least five of these games, three of them will likely have single digit spreads. If I had to chose, I would say 5-1 but 6-0 is realistic.
Wake finishes in the top 15 in the nation
— Griffin Lamphier (@GriffinLamphier) August 9, 2021
Kudos to Griffin. Is it biased? I’d be inclined to say yes. But this is the prime definition of a “hot take.”
We have seen two versions of Sam Hartman. Last season his big time throw rate dropped from 14.4% in his first four games (by far first in the power five) to 3.3% in the final four games (towards the bottom of the P5).
If he is more consistent, the Deacons have the pieces to click. They have weapons on offense and the secondary is talented but also more experienced. Overall, the team has plenty of depth to withstand the natural injury troubles a football season will bring.
While I would not lay a single dollar on this take coming true, it is certainly what we are looking for.
Phil Jurkovec plays his was into being a top 10 NFL draft pick.🔥
— Professor Beard (@beard_professor) August 9, 2021
I can totally see this one panning out. Jurkovec is at least above average in every tool a professional quarterback needs — pocket presence, arm talent, mobility, football IQ. Even if he does not increase his stock enough for 2022, he can vastly benefit from another year.
Check out our podcast where we broke down everything in even greater depth: