Clemson, Deshaun Watson picked by ACC media to repeat 2015 success

Clemson was predicted in a landslide by media voters to win the 2016 ACC Championship at the league’s media days last week.

With the votes announced Monday morning, Clemson garnered 144 of the 191 votes (75.4 percent) to win the ACC title game in Charlotte on Dec. 3. Florida State got 39 votes, with North Carolina receiving seven votes and Louisville one.

The ACC media has correctly picked 18 of the last 25 conference champions or co-champions dating to 1991; FSU accounted for 12 of those correct picks from 1992-2005.

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was the runaway choice for ACC Preseason Player of the Year, a title he received last summer before making good on that prediction with the postseason award in 2015. Watson fielded 164 votes; the next-nearest competitor was Florida State running back Dalvin Cook with 18 votes, and no other player had more than four votes.

“We’re just proud to have a team that’s relevant and a program that people expect to have a chance to be in the hunt, because we do,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Friday at ACC Football Kickoff. “There’s several other teams out there just like us. There is no ranking in my opinion. I wish they wouldn’t even do rankings until, like, October, because there’s too much turnover and transition and injuries in camp. Too many things that can happen to change all that stuff. I don’t really care for all that, but I know it’s part of it, it creates a way to pass the time for people to get to the season.”

In terms of division voting, 148 of 191 voters believe Clemson will win the ACC Atlantic Division, despite the Tigers having to travel to Florida State on Oct. 29. A total of 42 voters took FSU, and one voter had Louisville.

The complete Atlantic Division predictions, in order, go Clemson, FSU, Louisville, N.C. State, Boston College, Syracuse and Wake Forest.

North Carolina, which lost 45-37 to Clemson in last year’s ACC Championship game, was picked to win the Coastal Division with 121 first-place votes. The rest of the pecking order went Miami (50 first-place votes), Pittsburgh (14), Virginia Tech (3), Duke (2), Georgia Tech (1) and Virginia.

This is the third straight year that every Coastal team except Virginia earned at least one first-place vote at the preseason media days.

The last three Coastal Division champions were picked to finish low in the preseason: North Carolina in 2015 and Georgia Tech in 2014 were selected to finish fifth, while 2013 winner Duke was picked to finish dead last in the seven-team division.

The ACC Preseason All-Conference team will be released Tuesday.

(Predicted order of finish)

ATLANTIC DIVISION

1. Clemson

2. FSU

3. Louisville

4. North Carolina State

5. Boston College

6. Syracuse

7. Wake Forest

COASTAL DIVISION

1. UNC

2. Miami

3. Pitt

4. Virginia Tech

5. Duke

6. Georgia Tech

7. Virginia