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Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014
Colleges

ACC preview: FSU title helps league’s reputation


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— The Atlantic Coast Conference owns a few prized possessions that once were property of the Southeastern Conference.

Among them: A national championship trophy, a Heisman Trophy, and a measure of respect.

That’s mostly because of Florida State’s big 2013 season, and now it’s up to the ACC to keep that momentum going.

“How about that, man, taking that from the SEC, huh?” said Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston of the Seminoles. “We are the national champions in this conference, and that’s important to me because people do need to respect the ACC more. ... I believe that Florida State, we helped gain that respect, and hopefully we can continue that.”

There’s no question the Seminoles set the standard for the league after capturing the last national title of the BCS era. That helped change the perception of the ACC, which won two BCS bowls from 1998-2011 before claiming three wins in the final two years of the format.

Now the league needs another team that can challenge Florida State.

Maybe it will be Clemson, last year’s Atlantic Division favorite that bounced back from a lopsided loss to the Seminoles and beat Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.

Maybe it will be Louisville, a league newcomer that won two BCS games in the old Big East.

Or maybe someone else will make a run — like perennial cellar-dweller Duke did last year.

Here are five things to watch in the ACC this season:

PRODIGAL PETRINO

The new coach for the ACC’s newest team isn’t really all that new: Bobby Petrino is back in charge at Louisville. He took a circuitous path that included a messy scandal at Arkansas to lead him back to the Cardinals.

THE GOLDEN DOME

This is the first year of Notre Dame’s scheduling arrangement with the ACC. The independent Irish play four games against ACC schools as part of their membership in all other sports the league sponsors. Notre Dame will play host to North Carolina and Louisville, will visit Florida State and will face Syracuse in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

QB QUESTIONS

Only four schools return their full-time starting quarterbacks from 2013, and only one of those players (Duke’s Anthony Boone) started a game before 2013. The QB with the most career starts? Winston, the redshirt sophomore who started all 14 games of the Seminoles’ national title run.

MIAMI’S DUKE RETURNS

Miami running back Duke Johnson says he’s at 100 percent after breaking his ankle last season against Florida State. Johnson appears to be the league’s top offensive player not named Jameis Winston.

DUKE REDUX?

What can Duke do for an encore? The Blue Devils are coming off the best season in school history — winning 10 games, claiming the Coastal title, finishing at No. 23 in the AP Top 25 and reaching the Chick-fil-A Bowl. ACC Coach of the Year David Cutcliffe says he believes his program is getting stronger.

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