Clemson again the team to beat in ACC football this season

NC State picked to finish third, Wake sixth in Atlantic Division; Duke picked to finish fourth, UNC sixth in Coastal

Clemson Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant stiff arms NC State's Johnathan Alston on his way into the end zone during last year's game at Carter-Finley Stadium (Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports)

The upcoming 2018 ACC football season will play out much the same way it did a year ago, according to those voting on the league’s preseason poll last week in Charlotte. Not only is three-time defending champion Clemson again the overwhelming choice to win the conference title, but top three teams in each division were picked in the same order they finished in 2017.

NC State placed highest of the four state teams in the voting, coming in third behind Clemson and Florida State in the Atlantic Division. The Wolfpack did get two first-place votes, however, one more than the Seminoles.

Boston College and Louisville are predicted to finish fourth and fifth, respectively, while Wake Forest, despite returning a veteran offensive line and one of the ACC’s most explosive receivers along with six starters on defense, could only manage a sixth-place showing in the poll — ahead of only Syracuse.

Defending division champion Miami is again the choice to win the Coastal Division, followed by perennial contenders Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, with Duke coming in fourth in the balloting with one first-place vote. North Carolina also got a first-place vote, but was picked to finish sixth in the division with Pittsburgh slotted at No. 5 and Virginia at No. 7.

In keeping with the wide-open tradition of the Coastal Division, five of the seven teams received at least one first-place vote.

The two division winners play for the ACC championship on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. If this year’s media predictions hold true, the game will be a rematch of last year’s title game, in which Clemson beat Miami 38-3 on its way to a spot in the College Football Playoff.

ACC Championship Votes

  1. Clemson – 139
  2. Miami – 5
  3. NC State – 2
  4. Florida State – 1, Virginia Tech – 1

Atlantic Division  

(First-place votes in parentheses)             

  1. Clemson (145) – 1,031
  2. Florida State (1) – 789
  3. NC State (2) – 712
  4. Boston College – 545
  5. Louisville – 422
  6. Wake Forest – 413
  7. Syracuse – 232

Coastal Division

(First place votes in parentheses)             

  1. Miami (122) – 998
  2. Virginia Tech (16) – 838
  3. Georgia Tech (8) – 654
  4. Duke (1) – 607
  5. Pitt – 420
  6. North Carolina (1) – 370
  7. Virginia – 257