Florida State -- not defending national champion Clemson -- is the preseason favorite to claim the Atlantic Coast Conference football championship, according to a poll of 167 media members held in conjunction with last week’s 2017 ACC Football Kickoff.
The Seminoles, who posted a 10-3 overall record last season and defeated Michigan in the Capital One Orange Bowl, are also picked to capture the Atlantic Division, while Miami received the nod as the likely Coastal Division winner.
Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville was chosen to repeat as ACC Player of the Year after a record-setting 2016 campaign in which he averaged 393.4 yards per game of total offense and accounted for 51 touchdowns, both ACC single-season records. His 1,571 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns were also ACC records for a quarterback.
Jackson, a rising junior from Pompano Beach, Florida, who is the youngest player to win the Heisman Trophy, also was named the 2016 National College Football Player of the Year by the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp, the Sporting News and CBS Sports.
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Florida State was named the likely 2017 ACC champions on 118 ballots, followed by defending national champion and two-time defending ACC champion Clemson with 35 votes. Louisville received seven votes, followed by Virginia Tech and Miami with three each and Duke with one.
In the Atlantic Division preseason voting, Florida State led the way with 121 first-place votes and 1,108 total points. Clemson followed with 37 first-place votes and 1,007 points, while Louisville received nine first-place votes and checked in with 843 total points.
NC State (658 total points) was tabbed for a fourth-place Atlantic Division finish, followed by Wake Forest (415), Syracuse (362) and Boston College (283).
Miami, beginning its second season under head coach Mark Richt, was selected the likely Coastal Division winner by 103 voters and amassed 1,065 total points. Defending division champion Virginia Tech followed with 40 first-place votes and 932 points. Georgia Tech placed third with nine first-place votes and 708 points.
Pitt (seven first-place votes) totaled 673 points, followed by North Carolina (four first-place votes) at 606, Duke (four first-place votes) at 473 and Virginia at 219.
The Atlantic and Coastal Division winners will meet in the 2017 Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game on Saturday, December 2, at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. If this year’s media predictions prove correct, it will be a first-ever title game matchup of teams from the Sunshine State and a rematch of an early regular-season showdown. The Seminoles and Hurricanes meet in Tallahassee on September 16.
Florida State owns 15 ACC championships since joining the league in 1992, just behind leader Clemson’s 16 conference crowns. Head coach Jimbo Fisher will welcome back 20 starters this season, including talented sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois and a deep defensive secondary led by Tavarus McFadden, Nate Andrews and Derwin James, a redshirt sophomore who returns after being sidelined by a knee injury in the second game of last season.
Louisville’s Jackson led the preseason ACC Player of the Year balloting with 113 votes, while Florida State’s Francois was listed on 23 ballots and Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins on 11.
Boston College defensive end Harold Landry received eight ACC Preseason Player of the Year votes, followed by NC State all-purpose standout Jaylen Samuels with seven and Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey with two. Miami linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, Miami wide receiver Ahmmon Richards and Duke quarterback Daniel Jones each received one vote.
1. Florida State - 118
2. Clemson - 35
3. Louisville - 7
4-t. Virginia Tech – 3
4-t. Miami – 3
6. Duke – 1
(First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Florida State (121) – 1,108
2. Clemson (37) – 1,007
3. Louisville (9) - 843
4. NC State - 658
5. Wake Forest – 415
6. Syracuse - 362
7. Boston College - 283
(First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Miami (103) – 1,065
2. Virginia Tech (40) – 932
3. Georgia Tech (9) – 708
4. Pitt (7) – 673
5. North Carolina (4) - 606
6. Duke (4) -473
7. Virginia -219
ACC Player of the Year
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville - 113
2. Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State - 23
3. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson - 11
4. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College - 8
5. Jaylen Samuels, AP, NC State - 7
6. Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse - 2
7-t. Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami - 1
7-t. Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami - 1
7-t. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke - 1