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ACC Spotlight: Five preseason storylines to follow

Deondre Francois
Deondre Francois (AP)

The ACC houses the defending national champions and one side of the most anticipated season-opening game in years. The Heisman Trophy winner is here, as are a handful of programs on the rise. Today, takes a look at some of the more intriguing storylines in the conference headed into the 2017 season.

RELATED: Big Ten storylines | SEC


Malik Rosier (12) and Evan Shirreffs (16) are two of Miami's four QBs battling to start.
Malik Rosier (12) and Evan Shirreffs (16) are two of Miami's four QBs battling to start. (AP)

People are high on Miami. The Hurricanes are being picked to play for an ACC championship this December, and for good reason. Mark Richt has an impressive and experienced defense, one of the best wide receivers in America and an impressive crew of running backs. All he’s missing is anything resembling a proven player at the most important position on the field.

Veterans Malik Rosier and Evan Shirreffs are joined by true freshmen N'Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon in the battle to replace the departed Brad Kaaya. Richt says he hopes to name a starter after his team’s second fall scrimmage. Whoever gets the nod will inherit some fairly lofty expectations.


Only one man in the award’s history has won the Heisman Trophy twice. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson would certainly like to become No. 2. What’s more important to Louisville fans, however, will be how he captains the offense after stumbling a bit down the stretch a year ago. Jackson is one of college football’s most intriguing players and certainly has the skill to captivate the country once again. Whether its sophomore slump or Heisman campaign No. 2, Jackson will snatch his share of headlines in 2017.


Eric Dungey
Eric Dungey (Getty Images)

“Year two, game four” has been the mantra all along. Dino Babers has never wavered on his expectations. The second-year head coach has said he expects things to click with his team around the fourth game of his second season at the school, and the self-imposed deadline is approaching. (Incidentally, the Orange are at LSU in Week 4, so that may skew results a tad.)

Syracuse has been a sleeper pick to become bowl eligible this season and will have to do so on the back of quarterback Eric Dungey, who could be in for a massive year if he stays healthy. The expectations aren’t sky-high for the Orange, but Babers’ words have ensured that there will be plenty of disappointment if his teams fails to take a couple of steps forward in 2017.


Derwin James
Derwin James (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Will the winner of the Week 1 game between Florida State and Alabama determine which league is the top league in the country? No, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun.

Somebody’s national title hopes will be damaged and some fan base will crow a little louder the next day, but none of that matters. What matters is that fans will be treated to a Week 1 matchup that somehow feels like a playoff game. A victory would likely propel FSU to No. 1 in every major poll and the stage for a season that could be truly special. The Seminoles will are seven-point underdogs as things stand now.


Christian Wilkins
Christian Wilkins (AP)

Oh yeah, Clemson.

The defending national champions have sort of flown under the radar this offseason … as much as such a thing is possible in 2017, anyway. Sure, the Tigers will need to replace quarterback Deshaun Watson but there are no shortage of options. Zerrick Cooper redshirted last season and true freshman Hunter Johnson was a five-star recruit for a reason. Kelly Bryant is the most experienced quarterback on a roster full of talent. Florida State is thought to be the favorite to win the ACC this season, but discarding the defending national champions probably isn’t a wise move.