Can the ACC stay atop college football? Florida State could give a hint in Week 1. – Washington Post
Derwin James and Florida State are one of four preseason picks to make the College Football Playoff. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press)
The college football season kicks off Saturday with a partial schedule featuring some wacky road trips — Hawaii at U-Mass.! Rice vs. Stanford in Sydney! To get you ready — and to make sure your team has its moment, however brief — we’ll count down the days by ranking every Football Bowl Subdivision team by conference. Last week Patrick Stevens ran though the second-tier Group of Five leagues and independents; this week, it’s the Power Five, including his picks for the College Football Playoff.
Next up: Big Ten | SEC
This might not be the ACC’s year, at least not compared to last season.
The conference enjoyed a breakout in 2016. It produced the national champion (Clemson), the Heisman Trophy winner (Louisville’s Lamar Jackson) and matched a league record with 11 bowl teams. It was a culmination of two trends finally dovetailing together about as well as could be expected. First, one of its natural powerhouses was in the national title conversation from the start. When the league was mocked in the 2000s and early 2010s, the real problem was that neither Clemson nor Florida State was at the level its resources suggested it could be. Now, both have national titles within the last four seasons.
The league could get by with those two dominating, but it helps if the rest of the conference chips in, too. That happened last year, with Jackson quickly emerging as a compelling, must-see figure, Virginia Tech winning 10 games under Justin Fuente and high-end quarterbacks imbuing teams like Miami (Brad Kaaya) and North Carolina (Mitchell