This past Friday, the ACC released its list of opponents for the 2013 football season, complete with Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the fold (hear that, critics of the blog header logo?!). While the new schedule format cuts down on crossover games between the Atlantic and Coastal divisions, respectively (reduced from three to two each year), we’ve still got plenty of interesting matchups available. Whether these end up being important or not won’t be decided until the Fall, but nonetheless, we take a crack at ranking them below.
10. Pittsburgh Panthers at Virginia Tech Hokies: The former Big East rivals are back at it after renewing their “rivalry” last year (a 35-17 victory for Pitt). Given how both teams are slated to be improved in 2013, this could very well be a deciding game in the Coastal division race.
9. Boston College Eagles at Syracuse Orange: The newest installment in this actual rivalry (no quotations) gains some extra importance this season, since there’s a good chance it takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving — typically a premiere day for rivalries such as this one. Now, many outside of this matchup know/care very little about it, but hear me out: BC/Syracuse is an important one, and among the few lasting relics of the east coast indpendents era. The hate will return. This will be a fun time.
8. Miami Hurricanes at North Carolina Tar Heels: Would end up being the Outlaw Bowl in 2012, but in 2013, there’s a chance that both of these schools could return to eligibility and division title contention. Miami’s young and hungry, despite whatever the NCAA’s sanctions may say, while Carolina wants to repeat last year with an opportunity for it to matter.
7. North Carolina Tar Heels at Virginia Tech Hokies: Another game with some real implications in the wide-open Coastal division, the Heels passing game will have its hands full up against Tech’s veteran secondary. If this one’s early, it may not even register. But if it doesn’t take place till later on, we could be in for a treat.
6. MIami Hurricanes at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: These teams’ last meeting, in 2012, was an overtime thriller, and we expect no different next season. As is the case with many of the Coastal teams, next year appears to be a step forward; which means a lot of big matchups all over the division.
5. Virginia Tech Hokies at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: The scheduling powers that be would be wise to save the “Coastal Division Championship Game” until later in the season. Since divisional play started, these are the only two teams to represent the Coastal in the conference title game, and with both coming back strong next year, that could very well be the case again.
4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Clemson Tigers: While they’ve split the last two meetings, there’s still something about the Jackets’ triple-option that seems to trip Clemson up. With a competent passing attack this time around, will the Jackets pull the upset on a team that’s likely to be in the top-10 to start the year?
3. Miami Hurricanes at Florida State Seminoles: Say what you will, but this matchup still matters, and should once again prove among the ACC’s best contests of the season. Of course, we’ll wait on the NCAA sanctions announcement to truly assess how good, but I’m of the opinion we’re in for an exciting and meaningful contest this Fall.
2. North Carolina Tar Heels at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Last season, these two put up a conference-record 118 points, to go with well over 1,000 yards of total offense (including more than 500 yards on the ground). So what can we expect for an encore? Enough of the same players return for what we hope will be yet another fireworks display, with a little extra something on the line (Coastal division title?) too.
1. Florida State Seminoles at Clemson Tigers: The ACC’s only real “marquee” matchup right now, ‘Noles-Tigers should once again pit two top-15 ranked teams against one another (hopefully) as a showcase of the league’s best. Will this one be College Gameday-bound in a similar fashion to last year’s contest? One can hope, though if the Tigers manage to knock off Georgia in their opening game, the sky’s pretty much the limit.