It might mean more in the SEC, but it's hard to argue with the ACC's claim as the best football conference in 2016.
Clemson won its first national championship in 35 years by beating Alabama 35-31 in the College Football Playoff title game. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy. ACC teams went 9-3 in bowl games (beating four of five SEC opponents in the process), which followed another dominating performance against SEC teams in in-state rivalry games. Florida State has won four in a row -- and six of the past seven -- against Florida; Georgia Tech has defeated Georgia two of the past three seasons; and Clemson has won three straight over South Carolina).
Will the ACC's dominance continue in 2017? We'll find out.
Here are 10 bold predictions for this upcoming season:
1. The Big 12 will have buyer's remorse
For the first time in the CFP era, the Big 12 will join the rest of the Power 5 by staging a conference championship game. The Big 12 has had only one representative in the CFP (Oklahoma) and no wins, so it's hoping the title game bolsters its chances of making the playoff. But it's going to backfire on the beleaguered league in year one.
Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State seem poised to make a CFP run this coming season, especially the Pokes, who bring back quarterback Mason Rudolph, tailback Justice Hill and receiver James Washington. The Sooners bring back quarterback Baker Mayfield, a leading Heisman Trophy contender, but they'll have to replace star tailbacks Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon and receiver Dede Westbrook. And they'll have a first-year coach, former offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, who was elevated when longtime coach Bob Stoops abruptly retired in June.
The Sooners will drop an early Sept. 9 road game at Ohio State, but then they'll win six in a row (including the Red River Rivalry game over Texas) to carry a 7-1 record into the Nov. 4 Bedlam Game at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys will likewise be 7-1 entering Bedlam -- they'll drop one of their two consecutive road games at Texas and West Virginia before playing the Sooners.
Oklahoma will knock off the Pokes in a high-scoring battle in Stillwater, winning Bedlam for the 13th time in 15 tries, but then OSU will rebound to knock off the Sooners in the Big 12 championship game. With every Big 12 team having at least two losses, the league will be left out of the CFP for the third time in four seasons.
2. Urban Meyer will get even
Meyer has rarely been humbled as much as he was in Ohio State's 31-0 loss to Clemson in the CFP semifinals at the Fiesta Bowl last season. The Buckeyes had only 215 yards of offense with nine first downs and were shut out for the first time since 1993. It was the first time a Meyer-coached team was held scoreless in his 194 games as a head coach.
The Buckeyes are poised for redemption this coming season. Former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson takes over the offense, and former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano is back to direct the defense. If the Buckeyes can survive their early home game against Oklahoma, they probably won't be tested again until they host Penn State on Oct. 28 and play at Michigan on Nov. 25. And yes, Meyer will beat Jim Harbaugh again.
Ohio State will be the No. 1 seed in the CFP, followed by No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida State (which will rebound from a Week 1 loss to the Crimson Tide in Atlanta) and No. 4 USC. The Buckeyes and Tide will play for the national championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Jan. 8, and Meyer will earn his fourth national title with a 24-20 victory.
3. The coaching carousel will start in October
Thanks to the new early signing period for college football, which runs for 72 hours from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22, schools will start firing their coaches earlier than ever before. Indeed, October is the new December, and a handful of coaches will be let go by Halloween so schools can get a head start on finding their replacements.
The new recruiting calendar spells bad news for coaches on the hot seat, including Arizona State's Todd Graham, Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin, UCLA's Jim Mora, Tennessee's Butch Jones, Arizona's Rich Rodriguez, Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, among others.
4. Coordinators will be the hottest names in the coaching market
There were eight Power 5 coaching jobs that changed hands last season (nine after Stoops retired), and schools hired three coaches from the American and one each from Conference USA and the MAC. This coming season, Group of 5 coaches such as Memphis' Mike Norvell and Boise State's Bryan Harsin will still be in high demand, but Power 5 coordinators will be the hottest commodities.
Four defensive coordinators -- Schiano, Alabama's Jeremy Pruitt, LSU's Dave Aranda and Clemson's Brent Venables -- will be near the top of a lot of athletic directors' wish lists, along with Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.
5. We won't hear about Lane Kiffin after Week 2
It seems like we can't go a week without hearing or reading something about Kiffin, but his novelty will wear off after Florida Atlantic opens the season against Navy at home and Wisconsin on the road. After the Badgers rout the Owls 59-10 to drop their record to 0-2, the only place you'll find Kiffin's name is in the weekly Bottom 10.
6. You'll see more draft-eligible players skip their bowl games
Former star running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey caught a lot of flak for skipping their teams' bowl games last season. But their decisions ended up being good ones (at least individually), as they were each selected in the top 10 of the NFL draft. Unless a player's team is competing in the CFP, there's less incentive for him to stick around for the postseason. Fournette and McCaffrey set a precedent, and we're going to see a lot more players doing it in the future.
7. NFL teams will start tanking early to grab a quarterback
By early December, a handful of NFL teams -- including the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets -- will be fighting to finish with the worst record in the league to secure one of the top three picks in next spring's NFL draft. Each of those teams desperately need a franchise quarterback, and there will be three good ones available -- USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen and UCLA's Josh Rosen.
8. The best rivalry game won't settle a championship
The Iron Bowl, Bedlam and The Game (Michigan vs. Ohio State) might end up deciding more in the CFP picture, but the Nov. 23 Egg Bowl between Ole Miss and Mississippi State figures to have the most venom.
Some MSU fans have long believed the Rebels cheated to get so good so fast, and they might be proved right when Ole Miss officials appear in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions in September. Some Ole Miss fans believe the Bulldogs assisted NCAA investigators in uncovering the Rebels' alleged wrongdoing, and a Mississippi State fan discovered the phone call that led to former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze's resignation in July. Here's hoping there are as many security guards as cowbells in Starkville on Thanksgiving night.
9. The ACC will finally get what it wanted: Florida State vs. Miami
When the ACC split into two divisions and added a conference championship game before the 2005 season, it wasn't a coincidence that the Seminoles and Hurricanes were placed on opposite sides. The ACC hoped then that FSU and Miami would return to their past glory and be on a collision course to the title game, or at the very least be in contention every year.
FSU has held up its end, playing in the ACC championship game five times, but Miami has yet to appear in the game's 12-year existence. That will change this coming season. FSU will end Clemson's two-year reign in the Atlantic Division, and the Hurricanes will win the Coastal Division in coach Mark Richt's second season. The Seminoles will beat Miami for the ninth straight time to punch their CFP ticket.
10. Charlie Strong will win more games than Tom Herman
Strong didn't leave the cupboard bare at Texas, but he's walking into a tailor-made situation at USF. The Bulls bring back quarterback Quinton Flowers and 14 other starters, and their schedule isn't exactly daunting. USF doesn't play Navy or Memphis during the regular season, and it gets Temple, Houston and Tulsa at home. If the Bulls can avoid a slip-up on the road, they'll be the Group of 5 team playing in a New Year's Six bowl.
Herman didn't need long to turn Houston into a winner, and he should have enough talent to win eight or more games in his first season in Austin. But road games at USC, TCU and West Virginia might be tricky, along with the Red River Rivalry game against Oklahoma in Dallas on Oct. 14.