Ranking the ACC's Top Non-Conference games

Playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference doesn't quite have the feel of an SEC weekend or, certain parts of the Big Ten, but its Miami\Florida State and Clemson\FSU showdown highlights can match any league's best. What has become more common, especially with the rise of Clemson, are key non-conference games involving ACC teams.

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So here's our look at the best non-conference game for each ACC school, in order of excitement and/or importance. The schedule is top heavy, with (as you will note) some ho-hum games. The ACC needs to thank Notre Dame for providing entertainment for several members.

1. Clemsonat Texas A&M, Sept. 8: How fitting new Aggie coach Jimbo Fisher gets to see a familiar face (and maybe unbeatable this season at least) in his second game at A&M. This is also a huge game for Clemson. A Tiger loss could severely damage their national championship hopes.

2. Florida State at Notre Dame, Nov. 10: It is doubtful if No. 1 in the rankings will be at stake, the way it was in 1993, but both teams have aspirations of being back in the Top 10. If either one is highly ranked this late of the season, it very well could be a game for a playoff berth.

3. Miami vs. LSU, (Arlington, Texas) Sept. 2: Dangerous opener for the 'Canes, who have championship dreams. Suicidal opener for LSU, where Coach O is already feeling the heat of preseason expectations while hearing the gloom and doom chatter about a schedule which includes Alabama, Georgia and Florida, as well as regular season ending meeting at Texas A&M.

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4. Alabama vs. Louisville (Orlando) Sept. 1: If Lamar Jackson was still at the Ville, this could be interesting, but it looks like a Bama romp as it begins defense of its national championship and opens a season of a potential controversy at QB.

5. Georgia Tech at Georgia, Nov. 26: Rivalry game but also a possible trap game for Georgia if the SEC title is on the line for the Dawgs the following week.

6. Penn State at Pitt, Sept. 8: An old-fashioned Eastern rivalry which should have been a cornerstone of the Big East football conference that never developed. Nittany Lions need to win this to make whatever they do in the Big Ten more meaningful to the playoff selection committee.

7. Notre Dame at Wake Forest, Sept. 22: Trap game for the Irish. The Deacons almost beat ND in South Bend last season and Stanford visits the Domers the following week.

8. West Virginia at NC State, Sept. 22: More dangerous for West Virginia, which sees itself as a sleeper team for CFB playoff honors. NC State would move up the ACC food chain with a win.

9. Boston College at Purdue, Sept. 22: If BC is going to break the seven-win barrier the Eagles MUST win this game against a Purdue team that is vulnerable to BC's rushing attack led by AJ Dillon.

10. Syracuse at Notre Dame, Nov. 17: Syracuse can play the roll of spoilers, unless the Orange are looking ahead to their meeting with BC..

11. Duke at Northwestern, Sept. 8: Teams will match GPA's and entrance SAT's in pregame ceremony and then play a high brand of college football.

12. Central Florida at North Carolina,Sept.15:  UCF winning streak should be alive and well after presumed wins over UConn and South Carolina State entering this game in Chapel Hill. Carolina coming off a two-game road trip (Cal, East Carolina) could be unbeaten as well? Nah..

13.East Carolina at Virginia Tech, Sept. 22: Hokies open at FSU, so they need this one to avoid come outing of Sept. 22 with two losses other than the regional rivalry, which doesn't excite me much.

14. Virginia at Indiana, Sept. 8: Payback game for Cavs, who lost to Hoosiers in Charlottesville in this Big Ten-ACC showdown. (You've got something better?)