Clemson is the media’s preseason pick to win the ACC, but the margin is thinning.
Clemson has won the ACC title in seven of the past eight seasons and the Tigers topped the conference media’s preseason poll ahead of the 2023 season with Florida State right on their heels.
Clemson received 103 of the 176 first-place votes and 2,370 total points in the poll while FSU garnered 67 first-place votes and 2,304 points to finish second.
Clemson made six consecutive appearances in the College Football Playoff between 2015 and 2020 with two national championships along the way. In the last two seasons, Clemson has not played up to that standard — particularly on offense. The Tigers went 10-3 in 2021 and then 11-3 last year, prompting some changes from head coach Dabo Swinney.
Swinney has long been resistant to hiring from outside his coaching tree, but he brought in Garrett Riley from TCU to run Clemson’s offense. Will it make a major difference?
Florida State, meanwhile, overcame some rough moments early in the tenure of head coach Mike Norvell and had a breakthrough 10-win season in 2022. With so much talent back from last year’s team, plus an influx of notable players from the transfer portal, the Seminoles have received plenty of offseason hype. Will FSU be able to take that step past Clemson and win the ACC for the first time since 2014?
Clemson and Florida State are the clear top two teams in the conference, according to the media poll. After those two, North Carolina and NC State were the only others to receive first-place votes. UNC, which returns star quarterback Drake Maye, came in third in the poll and received five first-place votes. NC State, the fourth-place finisher, received just one.
Miami, coming off a disappointing 5-7 record in Mario Cristobal’s first season as head coach, was fifth in the poll ahead of Duke and Pitt (tied for sixth) and Louisville. Louisville is entering its first season under new coach Jeff Brohm but could be a surprise team in the ACC thanks to an advantageous schedule. UL has just three true road games and doesn’t have to play Clemson, Florida State or North Carolina.
Further down the list are Wake Forest in ninth place and Syracuse in 10th. Wake Forest has played in a bowl game in seven consecutive seasons and has won at least eight games in its last three full seasons. However, the Demon Deacons lost star quarterback Sam Hartman to Notre Dame, so many in the media are expecting Dave Clawson’s program to take a step back.
Syracuse started the 2022 season with six consecutive wins but ended up losing six of seven down the stretch to finish 7-6.
The poll was rounded out by Virginia Tech in 11th place, Georgia Tech in 12th place, Boston College in 13th place and Virginia in last place.
Full 2023 ACC preseason poll results
1. Clemson (103 first-place votes), 2370
2. Florida State (67), 2304
3. North Carolina (5), 1981
4. NC State (1), 1662
5. Miami, 1553
T6. Duke, 1511
T6. Pitt, 1511
8. Louisville, 1344
9. Wake Forest, 1181
10. Syracuse, 826
11. Virginia Tech, 678
12. Georgia Tech, 633
13. Boston College, 561
14. Virginia, 365