Earlier this week, Andrew and Jeff pondered what some alternate timelines could look like in the ACC this year. One where North Carolina achieves the ACC crown and one where Georgia Tech does. But those timelines are alternatives for a reason. As it has been for 7 of the last 8 years, the Clemson Tigers are going to win the ACC again.
At ACC Media Day, Clemson received 10 of 22 first-place votes in ACC overall finish. Florida State received the remaining 12. Although it is certainly possible FSU could win, I have not seen the consistent dominance from FSU to believe that they’ll take that step this year.
Despite a bit of a “down season” last year for Clemson, they still easily won the ACC with DJ Uiagaleilei starting at QB. This year, they’ll be breaking in prized QB Cade Klubnik, who most Clemson fans were pushing for the starting job last year. Klubnik will also be able to rely on running backs Will Shipley and Phil Mafah who both return this year.
Let’s talk about Clemson’s schedule. The ACC schedule received a bit of a makeover this year, so instead of divisions, each ACC team has a pod of teams they play every year with the other pod rotating. Because there are no divisions, this means that the ACC Championship will involve the two teams with the highest conference record.
For Clemson, this is probably the best thing that could happen for them. This relieves the pressure of Clemson’s date with FSU in Week 4. Clemson can lose that game and run the table against everyone else and rematch FSU in the ACC Championship Game. That would put pressure on Clemson for every other ACC game, but their ACC schedule isn’t the most difficult (though it’s hard to have a difficult schedule when you’re consistently the best team in the conference).
Now, I understand that it’s certainly possible that Clemson could lose in the ACC Championship Game, but there’s one thing that’s clear to me. They’ll be there. Who will they play? I think that’s where things get interesting. But just as we continue towards the heat death of the Universe, several things remain true: hearing your own voice in a recording is one of the worst experiences of all time, all drinks taste better out of a glass bottle, and Clemson will always be in the ACC Championship Game as long as they are a member of the conference.
Who do you think takes the ACC this season?