Thursday, May 19, 2011
My vote: 2011 ACC champ
By ESPN.com staff
Once again, ACC fans can expect a wide-open conference race. With more than half of the teams introducing new quarterbacks, there are bound to be some close games resulting from rookie mistakes and more than one team pushing league front-runners Virginia Tech and Florida State. But will anyone push hard enough to knock the defending division champs from their respective perches? The majority of ACC fans seem to think not. Florida State was your pick to win the ACC this year with Virginia Tech slightly trailing in last week's poll.
My vote: Florida State
Making the case for the Seminoles: Florida State returns 18 starters from last year's Atlantic Division championship team, including what could be the best kicker/punter combo in the country. First-time starting quarterback EJ Manuel is hardly a rookie, the Noles are deep on both sides of the ball and the one position that lost the most starting experience -- linebacker -- could actually be even better. The question isn't whether Florida State will be good in 2011, it's if the Seminoles can be great.
Give more credit to: North Carolina. First-year starting quarterback Bryn Renner had one of the more impressive spring-game performances, and he will have one of the best offensive lines in the ACC to work behind. He has a potential 1,000-yard receiver in Dwight Jones, a veteran tailback in Ryan Houston and nobody looking over his shoulder. Numerous players gained valuable experience last year because of the suspensions that resulted from the NCAA investigation.