FSU, Miami top ACC football poll, state schools in familiar spots

NC State was picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Division, just ahead of Wake Forest in fifth. North Carolina and Duke, each of which got four first place votes, were tabbed fifth and sixth in the Coastal

CHARLOTTE — florida State and Miami were placed in opposite divisions when the ACC was divided into the Atlantic and Coastal in 2005, theoretically so that the league’s two highest profile programs could play each other in the conference championship game every December.Twelve years later, it still has yet to happen.But that hasn’t stopped those covering the ACC from picking the Seminoles and Hurricanes to win their divisions and finally have that anticipated title showdown.They did it again this year, overwhelmingly establishing Florida State as the favorite in the Atlantic Division and Miami as the team to beat in the Coastal in a vote last week at the ACC’s Football Kickoff in Charlotte.The Seminoles got 121 first place votes and 1,108 points to easily outdistance defending national champion Clemson (with 37 first place votes and 1,007 points) and Louisville (9, 842) in the Atlantic. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team, one of only seven in the league with a returning quarterback, was also the pick to win the overall ACC title on Dec. 2 in Charlotte.The Hurricanes picked up 103 first-place votes and 1,065 points, beating out second place Virginia Tech (40, 932) in a division that saw five of the six teams get at least one first place vote.Among the state teams, NC State was picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic, just ahead of Wake Forest in fifth. North Carolina and Duke, each of which got four first place votes, were tabbed fifth and sixth in the Coastal.Individually, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville was the choice as this year’s preseason ACC Player of the Year.This is the third time since the start of divisional play — and the fourth time overall — that Florida State and Miami have been selected as the league’s preseason top two teams in the preseason media poll.NC State’s fourth-place prediction is also familiar. It’s the third straight year the Wolfpack has earned the honor of “best of the rest” in the tough Atlantic Division. There are some, however, who believe that coach Dave Doeren’s team, with impact players returning on both sides of the ball, could potentially be the ACC’s sleeper this year.”You want expectations and you have to earn them,” Doeren said before the vote was taken in Charlotte on Thursday. “That’s the one thing I told our guys, be proud of people talking nicely about you, but also understand that changes quickly when you don’t live up to those things. So the bottom line for me and our program is we don’t look at where you want us to end up. We all want to be champions in college football.”UNC’s Larry Fedora is no exception. Only this year, after winning the Coastal Division in 2016 and being picked to finish first a season ago, his Tar Heels aren’t being given much of a chance at playing for a title.And that’s fine with him.”I know probably out there a lot of people don’t think we’re going to do much this year,” Fedora said, playing the underdog card to the hilt. “I think that’s a good thing. So pick us low. I would much rather prefer that. I think that will be a good thing for our program.”Duke coach David Cutcliffe isn’t as concerned about where his team was picked in the preseason poll as Fedora, though he’s just as optimistic about his team’s chances in 2017 — maybe even moreso — after missing out on the postseason for the first time in four years last season.”I don’t think anyone is more excited that it’s the 2017 season than we are at Duke,” Cutcliffe said. “We have a squad that has the most depth that we’ve had. We do have some areas of concern that we’ve got to continue to work with, as most teams do, but we’re excited about the opportunity this team has.”Wake Forest is also brimming with confidence after its first winning season since 2008. But the Deacons still have some work left to do to convince others to have the same kind of confidence in them.”People doubt us a lot,” senior defensive end Wendell Dunn said. “When we talk about beating the top teams, people look at you like you’re crazy and the thing about us right now is we embrace that. That’s our motivation. We want the other teams to doubt us. We want them to think, oh, it’s just Wake Forest we’re playing, so when we get out there and we punch them in the mouth and come off that field with that win.”Here are the results of the ACC’s preseason poll:ACC Championship1. Florida State – 1182. Clemson – 353. Louisville – 74-t. Virginia Tech — 34-t. Miami — 36. Duke — 1Atlantic Division(First place votes in parenthesis)1. Florida State (121) — 1,1082. Clemson (37) — 1,0073. Louisville (9) – 8434. NC State – 6585. Wake Forest — 4156. Syracuse – 3627. Boston College – 283Coastal Division(First place votes in parenthesis)1. Miami (103) — 1,0652. Virginia Tech (40) — 9323. Georgia Tech (9) — 7084. Pitt (7) — 6735. North Carolina (4) – 6066. Duke (4) -4737. Virginia -219ACC Player of the Year1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – 1132. Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State – 233. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson – 114. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College – 85. Jaylen Samuels, AP, NC State – 76. Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse – 27-t. Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami – 17-t. Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami – 17-t. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke – 1