Cards picked to finish in middle of the pack

Published 8:00 am Friday, July 29, 2022

RUSS BROWN

Kentucky Today

Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham had already declared during last week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff event that the Cardinals would be playing with a chip on their shoulders this coming season.

As of Tuesday afternoon, that chip probably got even bigger after the preseason poll was released and found U of L picked to finish fourth of seven teams in the Atlantic Division by 164 media voters despite returning most of its starters. Furthermore, the Cards weren’t among the nine teams (of 14) that received at least one vote to win the overall league title.

U of L will have plenty of opportunities to prove itself because the Cards will play seven of those nine teams, the exceptions being Miami and North Carolina.

To no one’s surprise, Clemson is a heavy favorite to claim its seventh ACC overall championship in the last eight years. Of course, the Tigers, who recorded their 11th consecutive double-digit win season with a 10-3 finish in 2021, were also chosen as likely Atlantic Division winners. Miami was picked to finish atop the Coastal Division following a 7-5 campaign last season that included wins in five of the final six games. The Hurricanes’ lone Coastal title came in 2017.

Clemson was named the likely 2022 ACC champion on 103 ballots, while NC State was a distant second with 38 votes. In the Atlantic Division preseason voting, Clemson earned 111 first-place votes and 1,080 total points. NC State, which was tabbed as the likely second-place finisher, picked up 44 first-place votes while accumulating 959 points.

Voters think the Coastal Division race will be more competitive. Miami received 98 first-place votes and amassed 1,036 total points. Defending ACC champion Pitt (38 first-place votes) was next with 911 points, followed by North Carolina (18 first-place votes, 823 points) and Virginia (six first-place votes, 667 points).

The preseason teams will be announced later this week. The Atlantic and Coastal Division winners will meet in the 2022 ACC Football Championship Game on Saturday, December 3, at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.