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ACC vs. SEC: ACC's title contenders

The most obvious way to knock the SEC off of its perch is to produce a national champion. The SEC has won the past five national titles. The ACC?

1953: Maryland

1981: Clemson

1990: Georgia Tech

1993: Florida State

1999: Florida State

Miami, as you all know, has won five national titles, but those came when the program was a member of the Big East. Who's next in line to represent the ACC on college football's biggest stage?

1. Florida State:It could happen as early as this fall, if the Seminoles beat Oklahoma on Sept. 17. If they don't, but still win the ACC title in Jimbo Fisher's second season, there's no question the program should enter 2012 as a favorite for the national title.

2. Virginia Tech:Sometimes it seems as if Hokies fans forget their team ever played for the national title. Frank Beamer has been there before and he can get there again. His program is one of the most consistent winners in the country. It has to take the next step, though, and dominate the top nonconference opponents, too, not just the ACC.

3. Clemson:Talent has never been a problem at Clemson, and coach Dabo Swinney continues to lure in some of the nation's best. The question is whether he can change the program's reputation as a consistent underachiever.

4. Miami: Al Golden has to win a few games in the ACC before anyone starts talking national title for the Canes, but he's hardly starting at the bottom. Miami has enough talent to contend for the Coastal Division yesterday, it's got enough tradition to build upon, and recruiting should never be a problem.

5. North Carolina:Butch Davis can recruit well enough to win a national title -- last year's roster was evidence of that, as a team full of backups almost beat LSU. The never-ending NCAA investigation has his program under a microscope, though, and only time will tell if and how sanctions will affect the future of the program.