Story by Yousaf Khan
The ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) is traditionally known as a basketball conference but is making a claim for football supremacy lately. The ACC returns the reigning National Champion in Clemson and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in Louisville QB Lamar Jackson. The conference also boasted the best bowl record at 9-3 and then had the second most draft picks in the NFL Draft at 43.
For the 2017 season, heavyweights Clemson and FSU, both in the Atlantic division, are the favorites to win the conference and to vie for a playoff spot. Early polls and magazine previews have listed both as top 5 teams. The Nov 11th clash between the two will more than likely determine the Atlantic champion and represent the division in the conference game in Orlando at the end of the year. One sleeper team in the Atlantic will be Louisville as they return a game changing dual threat QB Lamar Jackson. In 2016 Jackson was a touchdown machine both in the through the air and on the ground combining for 51 overall touchdowns and 5,000 yards.
In the coastal division, a few times stand above the rest in Virginia Tech and Miami. Both should have stout defenses and proven playmakers at wide receiver and running back. One big question mark for both teams will be starting new quarterbacks with little prior experience. Actually other potential contending teams like Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Georgia Tech will have new quarterbacks as well. The Virginia Tech at Miami clash on November 4th will probably decide the Coastal division.
Overall, I am predicting a Clemson Vs Miami game in the ACC championship with Clemson prevailing and potentially going to College Football Playoff for the third year in a row. FSU is also a serious contender to make the playoffs even with a loss or two. My sleeper team has to be Miami with a relatively manageable schedule and upsetting the Atlantic winner in the ACC Championship, they could have a banner year.
For ACC player of the year, I think Lamar Jackson will dazzle again for the Cardinals but will not repeat as a Heisman winner. My ACC defense player of the year is talented safety Derwin James from FSU. For rookie or freshman of the year in the ACC I have another Seminole in RB Cam Akers.