Each week, I’ll do a outlook for what’s going on in ACC football. I’ll rank each game in by my view of importance and interest.
All of the talk and prognosticating is over. It’s Week One in the ACC, and my Boston College Eagles start their inevitable march to the College Football Playoff. Can an ACC team emerge and repeat as national champs? While many of these games are cupcakes, there are a few interesting matchups this week that could have implications down the road.
Here are the games I’m most interested in watching this opening weekend. Rankings are from the AP Poll. The rest of the way I’ll try to write a blurb about each, but Week One is tough. I don’t have a strong opinion about Miami vs. Bethune-Cookman.
1 — #3 Florida State (0-0) vs. #1 Alabama (0-0)
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA) — Saturday
Shocking pick here. To quote former Vice President Joe Biden, this game is a “big f—ing deal!” We could see this same matchup in Atlanta in January.
But seriously, it is. While a loss won’t knock either team out of CFP contention, it’ll give a good barometer of where these two teams are to start the season … especially a hyped Florida State team. Most people expect Alabama to win because they’re Alabama, but if FSU can pull an upset, or even beat up on the Tide, it will put the college football world on notice.
2 — #21 Virginia Tech (0-0) vs. #22 West Virginia (0-0)
FedEx Field (Landover, MD) — Sunday
Again, you can’t put a ton of emphasis on a non-conference game to open the season, but this one should be fun to watch. I picked VT to win the Coastal, and this game will give us a look at new starting QB Josh Jackson. Dana Holgersen’s dynamic offense will be a handful for Bud Foster’s defense. Can the Hokies overcome their demons playing in Landover, where they are 0-3?
3 — NC State (0-0) vs. South Carolina (0-0)
Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC) — Saturday
I’m one of those who believes as this game goes for NC State, so goes the season. If Dave Doeren’s Pack truly has aspirations to challenge the upper echelon teams in the ACC Atlantic Division, this is the type of game that they have to win. It’s also the type of game State likes to lose. South Carolina is mediocre but trending upward under Will Muschamp. A loss here for Doeren after all of the summer hype would be devastating, killing a lot of positive momentum and bringing up questions about his job security again. I’m really curious to see how this plays out.
4 — Georgia Tech (0-0) vs. #25 Tennessee (0-0)
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA) — Monday
Another interesting ACC vs. SEC matchup. I’m in Tennessee as I write this visiting my wife’s aunt and uncle. General consensus over here in Rocky Top is if Butch Jones has another underwhelming season, the pitchforks are coming out. This one puts Georgia Tech — my sleeper pick in the Coastal — on a national stage. The Jackets were 3-0 against the SEC last year.
The Rest of the ACC
Wake Forest, 51 vs. Presbyterian, 7 (Final)
Syracuse vs. Central Connecticut State
Boston College @ Northern Illinois
#5 Clemson vs. Kent State
North Carolina vs. California
#18 Miami vs. Bethune-Cookman
Pittsburgh vs. Youngstown State
Virginia vs. William & Mary
Duke vs. NC Central
#16 Louisville @ Purdue