GREENSBORO, N.C. — In perhaps the least surprising news of the ACC Kickoff, quarterback Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles were picked to run away with the conference championship for the second straight season. Winston was also voted preseason ACC Player of the Year by the media.
The Seminoles, who return 15 starters to a team that finished first nationally in scoring defense and second in scoring offense en route to the 2013 national title, were selected as the preseason ACC champions on 104 of the 112 ballots cast. The only other teams that garnered first-place votes were Clemson, which is coming off three straight 10-win seasons and an Orange Bowl victory, and, for reasons unclear, Virginia Tech. With Winston joining offensive standouts Rashad Greene, Karlos Williams and Nick O’Leary along with an experienced and talented offensive line and an impressive defensive unit, the only question on the ballot was just how bad of a landslide it would be for one of the premier national title contenders.
This marks the 17th time Florida State has been voted as the preseason ACC favorite since joining the conference in 1992.
Florida State, obviously, was also selected to win the Atlantic Division by edging Clemson and newcomer Louisville, respectively.
In the up-for-grabs Coastal Division, it was Miami and not Virginia Tech that earned the most voting points in the balloting. In fact, Duke and North Carolina earned more first-place votes in the Coastal than did Miami; the Hokies finished with the fourth-most points. All but one team in the Coastal Division — Virginia — earned at least one first-place vote, which pretty much defines the division’s wide-open feel.
As for ACC Player of the Year, voting, the favorite’s margin of "victory" was equally as impressive. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston passed for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns last season and he returns many of his top targets, so this was an easy choice. If you’re one of the premier players in the nation, chances are you’re one of the premier players in your own conference. Also, many of the conference’s top players on other current member schools — Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, North Carolina’s Eric Ebron and Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald — have moved on to the next level.
Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley was the only other player to garner more than one vote in the Player of the Year voting, beating out Duke Johnson (Miami), Jamison Crowder (Duke) and Brenden Motley (Virginia Tech). Here are the complete voting results (a few voters made no selections):