Clemson, Georgia Tech picked to win ACC divisions

The ACC media predicts Deshaun Watson and coach Dabo Swinney will lead Clemson to the ACC title this year. (AP photo)

The ACC media predicts Deshaun Watson and coach Dabo Swinney will lead Clemson to the ACC title this year. (AP photo)

Deshaun Watson has been cleared to play, which improves Clemson’s chances this year.

So much so that the media covering the ACC picked the Tigers to not only win the Atlantic Division, but the conference at the ACC Kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C.

Watson also was voted the 2015 ACC Preseason Player of the Year, with Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas third behind Pittsburgh RB James Conner.

Clemson received 101 first-place votes to outdistance Florida State, which received 56 votes despite the transfer of quarterback Everett Golson from Notre Dame to replace Jameis Winston.

Georgia Tech was chosen to win the Coastal Division with 96 votes, way ahead of Virginia Tech with 44 points.

Here’s the predicted order of finish:

ACC championship

  • Clemson
  • Florida State
  • Georgia Tech
  • Virginia Tech
  • North Carolina
  • Miami
  • N.C. State

Atlantic Division

  • Clemson
  • FSU
  • Louisville
  • N.C. State
  • Boston College
  • Syracuse
  • Wake Forest

Coastal Division

  • Georgia Tech
  • Virginia Tech
  • Miami
  • Duke
  • North Carolina
  • Pittsburgh
  • Virginia

Watson, a sophomore from Gainesville,  partially tore the ACL in his right knee in practice on Nov. 20, two days before Clemson defeated Georgia State.

Watson then played on the injured knee and led the Tigers to a 35-17 victory over South Carolina on Nov. 29, to snap a five-game losing streak to the Gamecocks. He didn’t play in Clemson’s 40-6 victory over Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

He started five of the eight games he played in 2014 and made his collegiate debut in his first game at Georgia.

Watson threw for 1,466 yards and 14 TDs and two interceptions. Watson also ran for 200 yards and five scores.

He missed three games with an injured right and hand and initially hurt his right knee in a 28-6 loss to Georgia Tech on Nov. 15.


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