Last season, the ACC was one of the most star-studded conferences in recent memory.
It produced the Heisman Trophy winner in Lamar Jackson of Louisville, and the national champion in Clemson.
Many notable stars, such as Clemson's Deshaun Watson, UNC's Mitchell Trubisky and FSU's Dalvin Cook, have moved on to the pros.
But Jackson returns under center for the Cardinals, standout quarterback Deondre Francois will be a sophomore at Florida State and handful of other big-name returnees are scattered throughout the ACC.
|Odds To Win ACC
(courtesy of Golden Nugget)
| Florida State
| Virginia Tech
| N.C. State
| Georgia Tech
| North Carolina
| Wake Forest
| Boston College
Let's look at the initial future odds to win the ACC title game, courtesy of the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas:
Florida State (6/5): Last year, before he had even taken one collegiate snap, many observers picked Francois to lead the Seminoles to a conference title.
Francois had a great freshman year, but a leaky defense was the culprit in losses to Louisville and Clemson that kept the Seminoles out of the ACC title game.
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Florida State will suffer from the loss of the explosive Cook and other weapons like receiver Travis Rudolph, who entered the NFL Draft but went unselected.
Still, the Seminoles have enough playmakers on both sides of the ball to compete at the top of the conference. They also have a favorable schedule, with rival Miami and Louisville at home.
It was premature to expect huge things out of the Seminoles last year, but they are the deserving favorite this time around.
Louisville (4/1): For all of Jackson's highlight-reel heroics, he was sacked 46 times and the Cardinals struggled to protect him against top-tier competition. Coach Bobby Petrino reportedly is going to change protection schemes and put Jackson under center more.
The Cardinals lose a ton of talent off what was a highly regarded but somewhat underachieving defensive unit. But their roster was stacked with highly-rated underclassmen who are eager to make an impact.
Louisville has a favorable schedule that includes Clemson at home, with the biggest obstacle a trip to Florida State.
The Cardinals are likely to have the ACC's most explosive offense, and they are a pretty good value based on the opening price.
Miami (8/1): The long shot will always come from the Coastal Division because one team is guaranteed to emerge and face the likes of Florida State, Louisville or Clemson in the title game.
Whether the Coastal representative has a legitimate chance to win is another matter.
Last year, surging Virginia Tech overcame a big early deficit to stay within one score of heavily-favored Clemson. But the misguided decision of quarterback Jerod Evans to turn pro (he went undrafted) likely leaves the Hokies in a tough spot this season.
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Miami also loses its quarterback, as Brad Kaaya left school and was taken in the sixth round by the Lions.
So while Mark Richt's club will break in a new quarterback, he will have one of the country?s best backfields in Mark Walton and Joseph Yearby.
A defense short-handed because of suspensions and somewhat inexperienced last year overachieved (No. 20 nationally, up from No. 69) and returns many key components.
This is likely the Coastal's best team, one that has the ability to exceed projections and become a viable ACC title contender.
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Florida State (6/5): I rarely play the chalk in these spots, but I think the Seminoles are the clear class of the ACC. Clemson will have a rebuilding year, and Louisville has yet to live up to its potential.
The price isn't great, but there's still some equity in a bet that pays better than even money for the best team to emerge with the championship.