CHARLOTTE — Clemson is the overwhelming favorite to win its fifth straight ACC title, according to balloting among media members at the league’s Football Kickoff event last week. The defending national champions picked up 170 of a possible 173 votes to top the preseason poll that was announced on Monday.
The result was hardly a surprise.
Coach Dabo Swinney’s Tigers return their most potent offensive weapons — including ACC Player of the Year Travis Etienne and quarterback Trevor Lawrence — from a team that became the first in college football history to compile an undefeated 15-0 season in 2018.
The only real suspense in the voting is which of Clemson’s challengers would be selected as the best of the rest. That honor went to Atlantic Division rival Syracuse, which received two championship votes while placing second behind the Tigers in division voting.
Florida State was picked third in the division, followed by NC State, Boston College, Wake Forest and rebuilding Louisville.
Virginia, the only other team to receive a championship vote, was chosen as the favorite to win the Coastal Division with 82 first place votes and 1,003 points. The Cavaliers are the only team yet to win a title in the Coastal, a division that has seen six different winners over the past six years.
Indicative of that balance is the fact that all seven teams received at least one first place vote in this year’s preseason poll.
Following UVA are Miami with 55 first place votes and 992 points, Virginia Tech (20, 827), Pittsburgh (8, 691), Duke (6, 566), North Carolina in its first season under old/new coach Mack Brown (1, 463) and Georgia Tech (1, 302).
The two division winners will meet in the 2019 ACC Football Championship Game on Saturday, December 7, at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.