The college football season is ready to kickoff in little more than a week.
For the first time in a while, the collegiate spotlight is shining brightly on the ACC, well at least one school.
The conference has the reigning champion — Florida State. The Seminoles are also the overwhelming No. 1 team in the pre-season, grabbing 57 of 60 first-place votes in the Associated Press poll.
Unlike the SEC, the Big Ten or the Pac-12 with multiple schools in the Top 10, the next ACC team to crack the rankings is Clemson at No. 16.
Notre Dame, which joined the ACC in all sports except football, is sitting right behind Clemson. The Irish will play a limited “conference schedule” this season, taking on Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida State and Louisville.
The Tar Heels are also in the pre-season rankings, slipping in at No. 23. Duke, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Miami were grouped together in the “others receiving votes.”
The USA Today Coaches poll also has FSU on top with 56 of the 62 first-place votes. Once again, you have to look down 15 spots to find another ACC team, with Clemson checking in at No. 16. Notre Dame is also 17th in the coaches poll, just as UNC is 23rd.
With only three teams in the top 25, the ACC doesn’t appear primed to make a big splash on the college scene, but that isn’t true.
Miami could be on the verge on having a breakout season and making its way back onto the national scene. Until injuries sidelined two of its top players, Duke seemed poised to build on its success from last year.
The one school that could surprise people by the end of the year is Louisville. The Cardinals no longer have Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and that will hurt. But with offensive genius Bobby Petrino back on the sideline, there is no reason to believe Louisville still won’t light up a scoreboard in a hurry.
The Cardinals do play in the ACC Atlantic Division and will have to face the Seminoles, the Tigers and even the Fighting Irish during the season.
Things won’t be easy, but you shouldn’t overlook the Cardinals in their first season in the ACC.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 or on Twitter @scgolfer.