There's no denying the ACC was one of the premiere conferences in college football last season. Obviously Clemson helped the most by winning the College Football Playoff, but the second-tier of competitive squads provided plenty of depth.
On Tuesday, Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated released his Top-25 power rankings now that spring football is mostly in the rearview mirror. Obviously spring doesn't tell us all that much, but it at least gives fans and media an early glimpse into how the college football landscape might shape up in 2017.
As expected, Hamilton pegged Alabama as his top team, but beyond the Crimson Tide, there are several ACC programs in notable spots. Let's take a look.
No. 2 Florida State
Like many, Hamilton is really high on Jimbo Fisher's group heading into the new season. Freshman running back Cam Akers looked like a stud during the spring game and sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois now has a year of work under his belt. Oh, and Derwin James — one of the most exciting players in the country — is back and fully healthy. The Seminoles could very well be a national title-caliber program in 2017-18.
No. 6 Clemson
Are you surprised to see the reigning champions as low as No. 6? I'm not either. Clemson has a bevy of young talent but Dabo Swinney will have his hands full trying to get them to mesh right away. No Deshaun Watson. No Mike Williams. Those are just a few of the names that departed for the NFL and at least for now, there are more question marks than answers when it comes to the immediate future of Clemson football.
No. 14 Louisville
With Heisman winner Lamar Jackson returning under center, it's safe to say the Cardinals will at least put up a fight in the ACC. There's been a ton of hype surrounding freshman WR Dez Fitzpatrick, who reeled in nine catches for 176 yards in the spring game (even if we didn't get to see it). Louisville's defense was one of the more underrated groups in the conference a season ago, so this feels like a decent ranking for Bobby Petrino's bunch.
No. 23 Miami
Hamilton joins plenty of other folks high on the 2017 Hurricanes, who are returning 18 starters from last year's 9-4 team. With Mark Richt entering his second season, I understand the optimism but feel like Miami could sputter just as quickly as it could succeed. Brad Kaaya's departure is more significant than many think, but the offense is loaded with young, unproven talent.
The Hurricanes' defense should be it's true strong suit. If Richt can put together an efficient offense that doesn't turn the ball over than Miami should be just fine, but I need to see more before I make lofty predictions.