The ACC released their full 2017 football schedules on Monday. Considering this conference now boasts the defending national champion (Clemson), a team picked by many to make next year’s playoff (Florida State) and is home to the reigning Heisman Trophy winner (Lamar Jackson at Louisville) there are no shortage of intriguing matchups.
Here are the best 11 games on the ACC schedule in 2017.
The Wolfpack will get their chance in Week 1 when they face Will Muschamp’s club in Charlotte. If the Wolfpack can get the win, they could be a team to watch out for the remainder of the season. If they don’t, the clock will officially be ticking on Dave Doeren.
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Clemson at Virginia Tech (September 30th)
For Clemson, this game wraps up a monster September five-game slate which features matchups with Auburn and Louisville. If they can get through September undefeated, the only thing that appears to separate them from another trip to the ACC title game is a date with Florida State in November.
Virginia Tech won the ACC Atlantic in Year 1 of the Justin Fuente era, but did so without facing either Clemson or Florida State in the preseason. They got the Tigers in the conference title game and fared well. Can they have a similar showing when they face Clemson in September?
Wake Forest at Louisville (October 28th)
This one likely won’t be competitive on the field, but off the field it might just have the most compelling subplot of the entire ACC football season: It’s the first matchup between Louisville and Wake Forest since the “Wakey-Leaks” controversy of last year.
Notre Dame at Miami (November 11th)
Is The U back? We should know months before this game is played, so really the more intriguing subplot here could be courtesy of Notre Dame. Brian Kelly enters 2017 firmly on the hot seat and assuming he doesn’t get the Les Miles treatment – aka fired midseason – could this be the game that decides his immediate future in South Bend?
Miami at Florida State (September 16th)
No seriously… IS THE U BACK!??! With a new quarterback it’s hard to imagine them topping the nine wins that they hit this year.
Then again, for the ACC to schedule this heated rivalry, this early in the season, they must believe it’s a big game. Do the folks in the conference offices know something we don’t?
Clemson at NC State (November 4th)
NC State will get their rematch against Clemson at home in November, and the Tigers better make sure they’re not napping. With Florida State the following week, is there any chance Dabo Swinney’s club might be looking ahead here?
Joshua S. KellyJoshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Pitt at Penn State (September 9th)
Pitt beating Penn State in September of 2016 turned out to be one of the most important results of the entire season. Had the Nittany Lions won that game, they almost certainly would have made the playoff over Ohio State.
That also sets the stage for what should be a wild game next September in Happy Valley. Penn State knows they’re good, knows they’ll enter the season as a major playoff contender and will be looking for revenge.
Auburn at Clemson (September 9th)
Clemson needed to avoid a last-second hail mary to hold on and beat Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium last year. This year the game moves to Death Valley, but Dabo Swinney’s club will be without Deshaun Watson and Auburn adds uber-talented signal-caller Jarrett Stidham.
Clemson at Louisville (September 16th)
The ACC conference offices decided to give the Tigers a helluva stretch in September of 2017. Following a visit from Auburn, they'll have to turn around and face Louisville the following week.
Yes, the same Louisville club that returns Lamar Jackson. The Louisville club which almost pulled off an upset in Death Valley last year. And the Louisville club that ran over, around and through Florida State in a Week 3 matchup at Papa John’s Stadium last year.
Louisville at Florida State (October 21st)
With an experienced Seminoles club (led by now-sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois) facing a Louisville team losing a lot of key pieces, it’s safe to say that the 2017 meeting between these two clubs will likely be much closer than their matchup in 2016.
Florida State vs. Alabama (Orlando) (September 2nd)
The Seminoles likely won’t be favored to win this game. But with a brutal schedule, can they afford to lose it?
Florida State at Clemson (November 11th)
History tells us that this won’t just be the biggest game of the ACC regular season, but quite possibly the biggest game of the entire 2017 college football slate. The winner of this matchup has gone on to win the ACC Atlantic a staggering eight years in a row and has gone on to win the ACC conference title as a whole for four straight years. The winner has also appeared in all three College Football Playoffs which have been played to date and won two of the last four national championships.