Clemson leads ACC football topping Power 5 ranks


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Swinney says league play has made his team strong come postseason.
Swinney says league play has made his team strong come postseason.

Clemson's 2016 national championship run capped a banner season for ACC football – and paved the way for some preseason respect.

CBS Sports proclaimed the ACC as leading the way again in a ranking of Power Five conferences Friday.

"I think there are five teams with the right combination of talent, experience at the right spots and coaching to win the national championship this season," CBS Sports writer Chip Patterson said. "The ACC has two of those five teams with ... Clemson and Florida State, and until this streak of wins in big-time nonconference games ends, they claim the top spot."

The streak Patterson references comes straight from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who noted a 10-4 record versus the SEC and the ACC as the only conference with a winning record over Power Five teams and ranked opponents in 2016.

This week, Swinney credited ACC play in forging the team that's shined on the national stage in recent seasons.

"The reason we’ve been so successful is because of what we see week-in and week-out in this league," Swinney said on the Paul Finebaum Show. "That doesn’t always get the storylines – it just doesn’t. I’ve been in this league a long time now ... A pretty good run of experience from where this league was and a lot of those storylines that were written were relevant.

"But you can’t use the same lines from years ago. You have to pay attention to what’s going on. Where this league is now is very strong."

The ACC's strength will be tested early and often with the most Power Five nonconference matchups of any top-tier league, including Florida State-Alabama, Clemson-Auburn, Georgia Tech-Tennessee and Virginia Tech-West Virginia in the first two weeks.

Swinney sees a group in his peers that aren't going away anytime soon.

"The consistency of the SEC? No one can argue that," Swinney said. "It’s been unbelievable what they’ve done for years and years. Where this league (the ACC) is now, we don’t take a backseat to anyone and we’re well-positioned on the field to have a great run in this conference.

"You look at the coaches in this league and I’ve got great respect for those guys and how they run their programs. There’s a lot of talent and the NFL draft will show you that ... I’m proud of what the ACC has done and hopefully we can continue to be a league that can compete at the highest level nationally."

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