ACC Media Days: 5 Key Questions. Can Anyone Beat Clemson For The Title?

ACC Media Days: 5 Key Questions. Can Anyone Beat Clemson For The Title?


ACC Media Days: 5 Key Questions. Can Anyone Beat Clemson For The Title?


1. Q: Does anyone other than Clemson have a shot at winning the ACC?

No conference has a bigger slam-dunk favorite to win league championship than the ACC.

Oklahoma? Nah, Texas could certainly win the Big 12.

Ohio State? Not this year considering all the big changes and with a nasty Big Ten East to deal with.

Alabama? It would hardly be stunning if Georgia, or LSU, or even Florida ended up winning the SEC Championship.

UCF? Okay, but Houston is looking like a potential killer, and the Knight quarterback situation is now down to Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush.

If you’re picking anyone but Clemson to win the ACC, you’re just trying to be wacky. There’s no rational reason to think anyone else can do it.

But let’s say it happens. Let’s say it’s Sunday, December 8th, and we’re all asking, “how did (insert team other than Clemson here) pull it off?”

Of course the Coastal champion could come up with a Buster Douglas on the right day and beat Clemson with a great performance, but what would have to go wrong for the Tigers?

Could there be a wave of entitlement and overconfidence? Dabo Swinney has been great at keeping the motivation high, and considering all the new parts on the defensive line mixed with the young talent in the other spots – especially the NFL talents in a salary drive – there shouldn’t be any issues keeping everyone focused and fired up.

The schedule? Nope – not an issue. ACC fans get their undies in a twist when this gets suggested, but there’s obviously a difference between dealing with the weekly SEC and Big Ten East slates and playing at North Carolina, Florida State, at Louisville, and Boston College in the middle of the season.

That’s not to say Clemson wouldn’t or couldn’t win the SEC or Big Ten, but when your toughest conference game is either at Syracuse or at NC State – there’s no Miami, Virginia, or Virginia Tech to deal with in the regular season – you’ll take it.

Injuries? There’s the one big concern. Chase Brice came through against Syracuse last season, but there’s obviously a massive drop-off if Trevor Lawrence is out for any length of time, or in the ACC Championship. The depth at the skill spots and talent in the defensive back seven are there, but it’ll be a problem if the lines suffer a slew of major bumps and bruises.

It’s going to take something extraordinary.

For Clemson to not make it five in a row, it’s going to have to take either a total regular season collapse – and by that, meaning lose two conference games – or, again, go back to the right-day-right-team thing of facing someone who has everything clicking in the ACC title game.

Miami has the killer linebacking corps, the potential, the motivational defensive head coach in Manny Diaz, and the overall D to be more than just a speed bump if it gets back to Charlotte for the second time in three years.

Virginia has the make-up, coaching and starting 22 to hang with anyone in the country if everything is clicking. This should be the Coastal favorite, and in a curveball sort of way, this might be the one team Clemson would least want to deal with.

Can Virginia Tech flip the switch after a bit of a rebuilding season? The 2016 team gave the eventual national champion a push in a 42-35 Clemson ACC Championship win. And maybe …

Nah. Clemson is going to win another ACC title.

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