If you have been following ACC football over the last few years you have found several of the following statements to be true. Teams will beat each other up over the course of the conference season. One or more teams will suffer an inexplicable loss. And no team will be relevant in the national picture at the end of the season, because of statement #1, or #2, or this: they will lose to a national contender on the big stage.
The college football season kicks off tomorrow night, and the ACC will have teams playing non-conference games. To begin the ACC season, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets host the Western Carolina Catamounts, which would seem to be a winnable opener-unless you factor in the ACC’s history of losing to FCS teams early in the season. The other game features Wake Forest taking on Syracuse as Jim Grobe will again try to get the Demon Deacons turned around.
The most intriguing game of the first weekend would be the Maryland-Miami matchup, the first conference game of the season. The game was already a toss up with two new coaches on the sidelines and several questions for each team. Add in the fact that a large portion of Miami’s players won’t play due to the fallout from the Nevin Shapiro mess, it is anyone’s guess who wins. Steven Morris will start at quarterback for Miami, and beat Maryland last season, while Maryland counters with Danny O’Brien, perhaps the conference’s best quarterback. It promises to be an interesting night at Byrd Stadium.
Northwestern at Boston College: The Eagles, along with Wake Forest and the above mentioned Terps and Hurricanes, also play against a team from a BCS conference. Dan Persa may return for the Wildcats
Troy at Clemson: Dabo Swinney needs to get Clemson to step up to the next level. Tajh Boyd has to lead the Tigers to better things, or Swinney’s head coach chair may grow hotter as the season goes on.
Richmond at Duke: David Cutliffe continues the building project at Duke. Let’s see if there are any playmakers on defense this year. Sean Renfree is a good quarterback, but the Blue Devils aren’t equipped to win shootouts.
Louisiana Monroe at Florida State: The Seminoles have become the conference’s latest hope to factor in the national championship chase. They have two weeks to prepare for the biggest game on their schedule, when the Oklahoma Sooners come to Tallahassee. This game shouldn’t be anything more than a tuneup.
James Madison at North Carolina: The Dukes get another chance to play giant-killer, this time against the Tar Heels. It will be interesting to see how the Heels come out for Everett Withers, who has only been the head coach for one month. With an upcoming hearing with the NCAA Committee on Infractions in October, you wonder if the team will focus on football or worry about what’s may come down in another month.
Appalachian State at Virginia Tech: You would think Virginia Tech has learned its lesson after last season; this year’s schedule appears much easier. No Boise State, LSU or Alabama to open the season; rather Appalachian State. They did beat Michigan once to start a season, right? Don’t think it will happen here, though. Still, the Hokies might want to keep their guard up; remember James Madison from last season?
Also on the schedule: Liberty @ N.C. State, William & Mary @ Virginia