ACC Football: Top Five Non-Conference Games of 2017 Season
The ACC released their 2017 football schedule earlier this week – and it’s full of great games between conference teams and those from other leagues.
When the ACC released their football schedule for the 2017 season, fans of teams in the conference focused on a variety of things. For some, it was when they were playing conference and in-state foes while others looked for those rivalry matchups that make the sport great.
Even more wanted to see when teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference were going to face teams from other Power Five conferences and other traditional powers. When it’s all said and done, ACC teams will have played 22 games in the regular season against teams from the other power conferences and traditional power Notre Dame.
With that slate of non-conference games, which ones are the best of the best featuring ACC teams? Here’s a look at the top five non-conference games involving the ACC during the 2017 season.
No. 5 – Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee (in Atlanta) (September 4th)
For the Yellow Jackets, this “home game” will be heading up the road from Bobby Dodd Stadium and be the second college football game on opening weekend to take place inside the brand new Mercedes Benz Stadium (more on the other game later). It will also be one of the nine games in the regular season between the ACC and SEC.
For Georgia Tech, a win in this opener would be huge for both Paul Johnson’s team and the conference in general. Whether they should or not, the Volunteers are going to likely enter the year as one of the “favorites” in the SEC East – meaning a win by a “lowly” ACC Coastal team would be quite the embarrassment for that other conference.
No. 4 – Florida State at Florida (November 25th)
As much as it pains me to admit it, the series between the ‘Noles and Gators has actually never been that close in the standings. Thanks to running up a huge series lead in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Florida loves to brag about holding a commanding lead in their series with our beloved Seminoles.
That being said, the Seminoles can do plenty with a win this year over their hated foes. A victory in Gainesville would be the seventh in the last eight games of this series (the best eight game stretch for FSU) as well as being the fifth straight win over Florida for the first time ever – as well as the first time the ‘Noles would have won four straight meetings in that other city.
No. 3 – Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia (in Landover, MD) (Septemer 2nd)
The Hokies are coming off a Coastal Division title and one of the best comeback wins in a bowl game last season – still, they tend to be forgotten in a conference that has national powers like Clemson and Florida State along with a Louisville team that produced the Heisman Trophy winner last season.
The Mountaineers suffered a big time loss in their bowl game to another ACC team, the Miami Hurricanes. While they may not be a team competing for the Big 12 title next season, they will likely enter this game ranked and give the ACC a chance to make an early statement with six Power Five games during the opening weekend.
No. 2 – Notre Dame at Miami (November 11th)
Just to put this into perspective, the Fighting Irish haven’t traveled to play a game against the Hurricanes in Miami since the 1989 season. That’s right, it has been nearly three decades since one of the best rivalries in college football was truly a home-and-home series, following Notre Dame’s come from behind win last year in South Bend.
While the Irish were a pathetic 4-8 last season, this is still on paper one of the marquee matchups of the 2017 season. It’s the tradition of the sport taking on one of the winningest teams in the 1980’s and 1990’s that everyone loves to hate. Besides, maybe Miami will actually get a home sellout that doesn’t involve Florida State for once.
No. 1 – Florida State vs. Alabama (in Atlanta, GA) (September 2nd)
We alluded to this game earlier when talking about games talking place inside Atlanta’s new football stadium – but this might be just a taste of what the city will see later in the year when they host the College Football Playoff national title game…because there is a decent chance these two teams could meet in that game.
For the Crimson Tide, they are a team hurting after coming within seconds of being the back to back champs of college football – only to watch the ACC’s Clemson Tigers come out on top in Tampa. Even with that, head coach Nick Saban will have his team reloaded and ready for some payback against a team as fast and physical as that Tigers team.
For the Seminoles, this is a game about gaining respect and getting back in the national championship conversation. Last year, the ‘Noles started as a top five team before having three losses before November. A tough early slate leaves no room for error if Jimbo Fisher wants to prove the 2013 title team wasn’t a one hit wonder.
For the ACC, this is the game of the year when it comes to the non-confernece slate. If this conference can come out in back to back games and handle the team who has been the gold standard in college football for much of the last decade, it will go along way to continuing the march toward credibility that came with two national titles in the last four seasons.
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