Over the past few years the ACC has proven time and again that they are in fact one of the top conferences in college football. Almost every year we see the same teams rise to the top of the standings almost as if they are unopposed. Those teams tend to be Florida State, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Miami (FL). We will go team by team to analyze the games in which these five teams need to watch for and we will discuss the possibilty of upsets happening at crucial moments in the season for all five teams.
The Seminoles come off a great season, being crowned the ACC Champions and winning the Orange Bowl against Northern Illinois 31-10 and winning the ACC Championship game against Georgia Tech 21-15. ALthough they did lose games to N.C. State (17-16) and Florida (37-26) they finished with a fabulous 12-2 (7-1 ACC) record.
- At Boston College- September 28th: This should be a great test for the Seminoles as their second ACC game of the 2013 season. Boston College runs as a hard opponent with a determined attitude and great strength on both sides of the ball. Regardless of their 2-10 (1-7) record last season, the Eagles seem to be putting together a well rounded contending team this year and we should see how Florida State is tested on the road in Boston.
- At (#8) Clemson- October 19th: This should be a great test for the defending ACC Champions as the Tigers of Clemson look to regain control of the Atlantic Division. Clemson will be a tough test with Tajh Boyd leads the Clemson offense into another season in which the Tigers will look to upset the Seminoles on their own turf in Clemson, SC.
- At (#10) Florida- November 30th: Boy will this be a test to finish off the season on the right track for the Seminoles of Florida State. A game in Gainesville, FL against the Gators of Florida. Not only is this a rivalry game and a huge inter-state battle, but this is the final regular season SEC versus ACC game. We shall see who is truely Florida's best (Excluding the Hurricanes of Miami (FL))
The Eagles come off a dismal 2-10 (1-7) season where they not only finished last in the ACC Atlantic but failed to make a bowl game. They also finsihed dead last in Rushing Yards (90.5) in the entire league and finished 111th in points for (19.8). ONe good thing is that Quarterback Chase Rettig threw for 3055 yards and connected on 17 passes for touchdowns. Maybe a shining spot for the Eagles could be their passing game this season.
- At (#24) South California (USC)- September 14th: This will be a big test for the Eagles as they travel to the Coliseum in Los Angeles to face a tough Trojans team. USC finished last season with a 7-6 (5-4 PAC 12) record and a loss in the Hyundai Sun Bowl to an ACC powerhouse, Georgia Tech. With the loss of Matt Barkley,who led the Trojans for a few seasons with valiant efforts to get the program back on the right path to success, this should prove to be an interesting game for the Eagles.
- At (#8) Clemson- October 12th: A game down south in beautiful Clemson, SC may be a deceptive game for the Eagles as the small college town hosts one of the most potent teams in college football this year. The Tigers look to down the Eagles for a third straight year. The Tigers who have dealy potent Quarterback Tajh Boyd, will popse a huge threat to the Eagles. We will see how they fare against the Tigers in Clemson.
The Hokies are coming off a disappointing season after reaching the Russell Athletic Bowl and only winning that game 13-10 in Overtime. The Hokies finished 7-6 (4-4 ACC) and did not impress many fans with losses to Pittsburgh (35-17) and Cincinatti (27-24). The Hokies Offense will still be led by Lynchburg, VA native Logan Thomas who last season threw for 2976 yards and 18 touchdowns. The down side is that he only completed 51.3% of his passes and 16 of those passes were to the opposing team. He did however have 9 rushing touchdowns and rushed for 524 yards, which led the team.
- Vs (#1) Alabama- August 31st: Right off the bat the Hokies have a huge game against the defending National Champions Alabama Crimson Tide in Atlanta, GA. The game will be the Chick-Fil-A kick-off game for another season. Last season the Tide finished with only one loss to Texas A&M and won the National Championship game in blowout fashion over Notre Dame. Virginia Tech will need to bring their 'A' game if they want to pull out a win in this game.
The Tigers, who rolled off an impressive 11-2 (7-1 ACC) record in 2012, will look to dominate again this season with Senior Quarterback Tajh Boyd returning. Last season, Boyd put up big numbers on the ground and through the air (3896 yards passing, 36 passing TD's; 514 rushing yards, 10 rushing TD's). The Tigers were 6th in the league in Points For (41.0) and 13th in Passing Yards (321.6). They did lose twice last season, to Florida State (49-37) and South Carolina (27-17) before rattling off a 25-24 thriller against LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.
- Vs (#5) Georgia- August 31st: This will be a greta way for the Tigers get a jist of what's to come for the season ahead with a huge test against SEC juggernaut Georgia coming into town. The BUlldogs come off a season that left Dawgs fans scratching their heads as they dropped yet another SEC title game. Maybe the Dawgs will release their frustrations out on the Tigers in what should be a great game to watch.
- At (#6) South Carolina- November 30th: As if the huge test against SEC giant Georgia wasn't enough, the Tigers head to the home of the South Carolina Gamecocks to put their season on the line in a regular-season in-state rivalry match-up with the Gamecocks. Last season the Tigers fell to South Carolina 27-17. Could we see a game filled with revenge seeking Tigers pouncing on the Gamecocks?
The Hurricanes come off one of the better seasons in recent history for the program, finishing with a 7-5 (5-3 ACC) record. Unfortunately, the Hurricanes, who are surrounded by the Nevin Shapiro scandal, forced themselves to enforce an ACC Championship Game and Bowl Game ban in hopes to make the ramifications against them slightly easier to handle. This was the second straight season the Canes decided to opt for a Bowl ban in hopes of lightening the penalties.
- Vs (#10) Florida- September 7th: The 'U' invites a big time foe and inter-state rival, Florida, to come to SunLife Stadium to battle for the War Canoe. The Canes haven't faced the Gators since 2008, when they got blown out 26-3. The Hurricanes look to get back the title of best team in the Sunshine State with a win against the Gators of Florida.
- At (#11) Florida State- November 2nd: The Hurricanes travel to Tallahassee, FL to take on the Seminoles of Florida State in a huge inter-state rivalry game. The Hurricanes as of recent years are 0-3 against the Seminoles but look to turn their fortunes around and picking up a 'W' in this famous battle.
All-in-all, the ACC looks to, yet again, be a contending conference. There are hopes of an ACC team making it to the BCS National Championship Game this season, but nothing is guaranteed. We do know that the Orange Bowl will see the ACC Champions, unless of course they are chosen to go to the BCS National Championship. With the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh this season, the ACC, now with 14 teams, will look for new rivalries as well as continuing old ones. We shall see what the 2013 season brings for the ACC, hopefully a great, close race.