Clemson continues to lead the way in ACC heading into 2017 season

by - Correspondent -
Will the Tigers still be atop the rankings after the ACC Championship?

Sure, Clemson lost a lot of talent from last year’s national championship team, but the Tigers also have a lot of talent returning.

So after winning two straight ACC championships and playing for the national title twice, the Tigers are still being chased by the other ACC teams for conference supremacy … even without Deshaun Watson and company leading the way.

So with about two months left before the season, let’s take a look at the 2017 summer ACC poll:

2016 record: 14-1.
Season opener: vs. Kent State, Sept. 2.
Of note: Who replaces Watson, Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman, Ben Boulware? Those are certainly the big questions. But Dabo Swinney’s program isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Florida State
2016 record: 10-3.
Season opener: vs. Alabama in Atlanta, Sept. 2.
Of note: The Seminoles will be the sexy pick to dethrone the Tigers, but they have to fix their offensive line issues before Deondre Francois gets hurt.

2016 record: 9-4.
Season opener: vs. Purdue in Indianapolis, Sept. 2.
Of note: Lamar Jackson is coming off a dynamic, Heisman Trophy-winning season. Can the rest of the Cardinals step up to his level?

Virginia Tech
2016 record: 10-4.
Season opener: vs. West Virginia in Landover, Maryland, Sept. 3.
Of note: Justin Fuente is off to a terrific start as the Hokies’ head coach, and things look to be getting even better.

2016 record: 8-5.
Season opener: vs. Youngstown State, Sept. 2.
Of note: The Panthers are better than most ACC fans are aware of.

Georgia Tech
2016 record: 9-4.
Season opener: vs. Tennessee in Atlanta, Sept. 4.
Of note: If Paul Johnson can get the Yellow Jackets settled at quarterback, watch out.

2016 record: 9-4.
Season opener: vs. Bethune-Cookman, Sept. 2.
Of note: I like what Mark Richt did in his first season with the Hurricanes, but let’s hold off on the “Miami is back” talk a little bit.

North Carolina
2016 record: 8-5.
Season opener: vs. California, Sept. 2.
Of note: Without Mitch (or Mitchell) Trubisky, North Carolina will take on a new look.

Wake Forest
2016 record: 7-6.
Season opener: vs. Presbyterian, Aug. 31.
Of note: The Demon Deacons wrapped up their 7-6 season in 2016 with a rare bowl win.

N.C. State
2016 record: 7-6.
Season opener: vs. South Carolina in Charlotte, Sept. 2.
Of note: The Wolfpack need to break through the 7-6 ceiling they have reached the past two years.

Boston College
2016 record: 7-6.
Season opener: at Northern Illinois, Sept. 1.
Of note: After a 3-9 season in 2015, the Eagles had a nice bounce-back season in 2016.

2016 record: 4-8.
Season opener: vs. North Carolina Central, Sept. 2.
Of note: The Blue Devils took a step back to 4-8 in 2016 after some really solid seasons.

2016 record: 4-8.
Season opener: vs. Central Connecticut State, Sept. 1.
Of note: Dino Babers has some work to do with the Orange, but he had a solid first season.

2016 record: 2-10.
Of note: vs. William & Mary, Sept. 2.
Of note: Bronco Mendenhall’s first season with the Cavaliers didn’t exactly go as planned (2-10) in 2016.

Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Midday Sports Zone on Middle Georgia’s ESPN, 93.1 FM and 99.5 FM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at

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