Last season, the Atlantic Coast Conference sent nine teams to bowl games, ten games in total with the Clemson Tigers being the representative in the College Football Playoff. Riding an undefeated regular season into the National Semifinals, they made quick work of the Oklahoma Sooners down in Miami before coming up short in the national championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide, finishing the season with a very impressive 14-1 overall record.
Clemson, led by head coach Dabo Swinney, featured a top-tier defense, particularly a front-7 that ranked 1st in the ACC in fewest rushing yards allowed per game (125.3), which was good for 18th nationally out of 128 FBS programs.
The ACC figured to be a two-horse race once again in 2016 at least on paper, between the Florida State Seminoles along with the Tigers. Swinney has taken Clemson to national prominence over the last handful of years, a place where the ‘Noles are accustomed to being every year.
So which of these two will be considered the favorite heading into 2016? Which teams will be contenders and who are the players to watch? Let’s dive into the conference breakdown.