The Atlantic Coast Conference is home of the 2016 College Football Playoff Champion Clemson Tigers. They beat arguably the best team in college football when they took down Alabama in the title game. However, you can’t assume that past glory will yield positive future results. With that in mind, which three teams are likely to dominate the conference next year?
Can Syracuse Take a Big Step in 2017?
It may seem ludicrous to declare that Syracuse is going to be among the best teams in the ACC next year. They have road games against Florida State and Miami as well as game against LSU before they start conference play. However, Dino Babers has shown that his offense can put up points against almost any team. If Eric Dungey is healthy, Syracuse could be a surprise contender well into November.
Louisville Should Be Back Next Season
With Deshaun Watson and Brad Kaaya moving onto the NFL, Lamar Jackson is the main event in the ACC in 2017. They will play Clemson in their third game of the season, which could mean that whoever is playing quarterback for the Tigers isn’t experienced enough to deal with what Louisville can bring on defense.
A soft slate of games outside of the conference should help them pad their record and perhaps stay in contention to be a playoff team next year. In 2017, they play teams such as Murray State and Kent State that won’t pose much of a challenge unlike Houston did in 2016.
Can Clemson Retain Their Atlantic Title?
On paper, it looks as if Clemson and Florida State will be the two leaders in the Atlantic Division in 2017. However, it is clear that Clemson will be tested early in the year with a September games against Auburn and Louisville as they try to put themselves in position once again. If they can at least split those games, they should still be set to make a run toward another playoff berth. In fact, they could potentially lose both of those games and still get into the playoffs. Even without Deshaun Watson and the talent lost on offense, the Tigers have plenty returning to remain a prominent team in the Atlantic Division.
The ACC should be one of the best football leagues in the country in 2017. In addition to Clemson, Florida State, and Louisville, the conference will have Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Miami in prime position to be in major bowl games. Additionally, Syracuse could also be poised to join them if they reach their potential in the coming year. While nothing can be taken for granted in February, it is never too early to start speculating about the exciting year of college football coming this fall.