Clemson on top, but for how much longer?

Clemson remains the team to beat in the ACC. Not that everything’s in sync for Dabo Swinney and the Tigers, who still have to settle on a starting quarterback and overcome the loss of both coordinators to Power Five openings.

For the first time in several years, the question is being asked: Is Clemson good enough to reach the College Football Playoff?

And there are several teams in the conference capable of keeping the ACC championship out of Clemson’s hands for the second year in a row. Two of those threats, North Carolina State and Wake Forest, come from within the Tigers’ division.

Despite the question marks, the Tigers top the spring power rankings for the ACC:

1. Clemson (2021 record: 10-3)

It was only a year ago that DJ Uiagalelei was listed among the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy. Heading out of the spring and into the summer, it’s not even certain the junior will remain the Tigers’ starter. After throwing just nine touchdowns and averaging a paltry six yards per attempt in 2021, Uiagalelei will be tested by incoming freshman Cade Klubnik, a five-star recruit.

2. North Carolina State (9-3)

There’s a sense of unfinished business after last year’s team was unable to become the second in program history with double-digit wins after the Holiday Bowl was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. There is some departed star power in left tackle Ikem Ekwonu, who should land near the top of the NFL draft, but enough returning talent to make this the best team of coach Dave Doeren’s tenure.

3. North Carolina (6-7)

The attention paid to the Tar Heels’ three-person competition to replace quarterback Sam Howell has overshadowed some pretty big concerns at running back and wide receiver. In the backfield, UNC has four options but no clear answer coming out of spring drills. At receiver, there may be a pair of clear starters in…


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