The Miami Hurricanes made program history last year by making it to the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game for the first time.
With the 2018 season just around the corner, the expectation is that the Hurricanes will make it there once again this year.
The ACC announced Monday that the Hurricanes have been picked by the media to win their Coastal division and face the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 1 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The five-time national champion Hurricanes joined the ACC in 2004 but had never won the Coastal until last year. They have yet to win the conference championship. UM has been projected to win their division four previous times.
The Hurricanes, who finished 10-3 and ranked 13th by both the Associated Press and the coaches in 2017, garnered 122 out of 148 first-place votes and 998 total points, leading runner-up Virginia Tech, which had 16 first-place votes and 838 points.
After rising to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, UM went into a tailspin late last year, losing its last regular-season game against Pittsburgh, its ACC title game to Clemson in Charlotte and its Capital One Orange Bowl game to Wisconsin.
Hurricanes coach Mark Richt said on Thursday at the ACC Football Kickoff that the goals for his Hurricanes were to sweep the Coastal and league titles, then win the national championship.
Hurricanes star safety Jaquan Johnson told reporters he’s “been thinking about that [Clemson] game. ... Definitely, definitely. I want Clemson to come out on the other side. They’ve got a stacked house, so it’ll be good taking them down. ... We’re coming back this year with a new hunger and a goal in sight.”
The rest of the Coastal division had Georgia Tech placing third, followed by Duke, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Virginia.
Clemson, which went 12-2 last year and has won the conference each of the last three seasons, had 144 first-place votes and 1,030 total points, in being projected to winning the Atlantic Division. Clemson is also the overwhelming favorite to win the conference as a whole, earning 139 votes to win the title game. Miami came in second with five votes. N.C. State received two votes, while Florida State and Virginia Tech each received one.
The teams predicted to finish below Clemson: FSU, N.C. State, Boston College, Louisville, Wake Forest and Syracuse.
The national media has been high on the Canes all offseason, projecting them in preseason magazines No. 6 (Athlon), No. 7 (Lindy’s) and No. 8 (Street & Smith).