After getting left out of the beloved Week 0, all 14 ACC football teams play their opening game of the year this weekend. In terms of competition and importance, these matchups span from nationally important to completely irrelevant.
Tier Five: FBS Fodder
Pittsburgh vs. Wofford
Syracuse vs. Colgate
Wake Forest vs. Elon
These three matchups will in all likelihood be large blowouts. Although an FCS team has upset a Power Five squad every year since 2008 (aside from a 2020 where many schools didn’t play at all), none of these matchups seem likely for an upset. The fact that two of these games feature in-state competition doesn’t make them tangibly more interesting.
Tier Four: You Know What You’re Getting (And You Don’t Like It)
Boston College vs. Northern Illinois
Miami (FL) vs. Miami (OH)
NC State @ UConn
Virginia @ #12 Tennessee
These are four games with a clear favorite and no major storyline to speak of. Boston College, Miami (FL), and NC State all have pretty easy paths to victory, while Virginia should expect to be trounced by Tennessee. The most eye-catching part of this list is the fact that Miami is playing against Miami.
Tier Three: Worth a Watch
Georgia Tech vs. Louisville
Virginia Tech vs. Old Dominion
Both of these games have a legitimate draw. Georgia Tech vs. Louisville is one of just two ACC conference games in Week 1. The Cardinals are expected to be a top-half team in the conference this season, and I predicted that the Yellow Jackets would be the breakout team of the ACC. This game will set the tone for the second tier of the conference.
The intrigue of Virginia Tech vs. Old Dominion isn’t as obvious, but it’s still there. Despite winning just three games last year, the Monarchs knocked off the Hokies 20-17 in the 2022 opener. Revenge would be sweet for VT, and it can’t afford to be upset like that again.
Tier 2: Tune-In to Tobacco Road
#9 Clemson @ Duke
#21 North Carolina @ South Carolina
These two contests give an early opportunity to see how legitimate Clemson and North Carolina are, two of the top-three teams in the ACC according to preseason rankings. Both have to go on the road against a Carolina rival, giving the powerhouses a legitimate challenge right out of the gate.
Tier 1: College Football Playoffs in September
#8 Florida State vs. #5 LSU
No, the loser of this game isn’t out of contention for the College Football Playoffs. However, the loser of this game can’t slip up again all season long.
Is Florida State finally back on top in the ACC? Is LSU a contender in the SEC? There are plenty of reasons to watch this game, and hopefully it’s a close one. Besides, who doesn’t love college football on a Sunday night?