The ACC released its full football schedule for 2013 on Monday and it’s once again filled with tremendous opportunities for the conference.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh will make their ACC debuts, giving it 14 members this fall. ACC teams will play 11 games against nonconference foes that finished last season ranked in the Top 25, nine of which were among the top 10. Sixteen games are against teams from FBS conferences, including eight vs. SEC squads. There are also two games against BYU and one vs. Nevada.
Following a recent scheduling trend started by the SEC, several ACC teams will play FCS or lightly regarded FBS programs teams the week before the regular-season finales, which is when many annual rival games are slated. Florida State hosts Idaho, Clemson entertains The Citadel, Georgia Tech faces Alabama A&M, and UNC welcomes Old Dominion on Nov. 23.
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With respect to Virginia Tech against Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Classic in Atlanta on Aug. 31, which given last year’s teams and what is returning for both may not be a competitive contest, and Florida State at Florida, here are the five most intriguing nonconference games for 2013: Aug. 29 – North Carolina at South Carolina: The Tar Heels, which return a third-year starter at quarterback, have a chance at being pretty good. And if they can get the college football season started with an ACC win at an SEC club that could begin the campaign ranked among the top-10, the ACC would get a major boost. The border war should be fun, too. Aug. 31 – Georgia at Clemson: They don’t play very often, though it sure would be fun if they did, and the rivalry factor never wanes. This is classic, good old fashioned southern football, complete with a great tailgate, pressed logos on pretty cheeks, and some exciting football that should make for a terrific opener that carries a ton of importance. Clemson, being at home, can begin what could be a special season with a win over a legitimate team.
Sept. 7 – Florida at Miami: The ACC needs a great start to affect how it’s viewed throughout the season. And unlike in many recent years, when the league struggled out of the gate, Miami beating the Gators at home will help the conference’s image moving forward, and give Al Golden’s team a nice in-state jolt of positives to embrace.
Sept. 7 – Oregon at Virginia: Another early opportunity, though this may be the longest shot of the games noted here. But, the Ducks have a new coach, must travel across the country, and UVa should be improved. This is the kind of game that could skyrocket the ACC forward, or help maintain the same old narrative. Nov. 30 – Clemson at South Carolina: One of the best rivalries in college football could have a ton of meaning when the Tigers visit Columbia. Clemson could be on track to play for a national championship, but beating the Gamecocks in their crazy house could be the Tigers’ most difficult task of the season. It also could be another fascinating battle of a great offense vs. a great defense. That’s always fun.