Out of Conference Games to Watch
Recently there has been a lot of talk about playoff systems and Super-Conferences swirling around the college football world, and it looks like the ACC is being left out of many of those conversations. Of course, this is well deserved as no ACC team, aside from Virginia Tech, has shown the ability to put a quality team on the field every year. That being said, it draws a lot of attention to the out of conference. Here are the non-conference games to watch this year.
Auburn vs Clemson, September 1st: Early season opportunity for the ACC champs to prove themselves against a solid SEC opponent.
Miami vs Notre Dame, October 6th: Catholics vs. Convicts is renewed at Soldier Field in Chicago.
South Carolina vs Clemson, November 24th: Dark horse national champion pick South Carolina faces in-state rival and ACC champs in their annual battle.
Georgia Tech at Georgia, November 24th: Clean Old-Fashioned Hate is the name of this game. This is the 107th meeting all-time between these two rivals.
Florida vs FSU, November 24th: One of the best rivalries in college football no matter what the rankings.
North Carolina vs Virginia, November 15th - The South's Oldest Rivlary
This year's edition of "The South's Oldest Rivalry," which is slotted for an ESPN Thursday night game, will be the 117th meeting all-time between these two heated rivals. North Carolina faces a season full of questions as they are the focus of an ongoing NCAA investigation, and will also welcome in new head coach Larry Fedora. Virginia, under third year head coach Mike London, has shown marked improvement over the first two years under his control. Look for this to be about as intense as any in-state rivalry, with plenty of kids looking to prove themselves in front of a national television audience.
Players to watch
UNC quarterback Bryn Renner will have to be the star if his team is to have any success. The new spread offense being implemented is all about the quarterback, and the word out of Chapel Hill is that Renner is adapting very well.
Preseason All-American Steven Greer is a senior linebacker who is on the Nagurski, Lombardi and Lott trophy watch lists. He is the leader of a defense that will have to play above expectations all year for UVA to remain relevant as the offense has lots of question marks.
Georgia Tech vs Virginia Tech, September 3rd
On September 3, the Hokies and Yellow Jackets kick off the season with a Monday night prime time battle. Taking advantage of the one open Monday night not taken by the NFL, the ACC will get to showcase two of the better teams in the conference. Virginia Tech is looking to start the season off right and regain its conference title, while Georgia Tech is trying to find the success they had when head coach Paul Johnson first arrived five years ago.
Players to watch
Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas is a potential Heisman winner and dual threat at quarterback.
Georgia Tech QB Tevin Washington returns to run the triple option and build on his stellar 2011 season.
Florida State vs Miami, October 20th
On October 20, the Noles will travel to SunLife Stadium to face the Hurricanes in their annual match-up. FSU is a preseason national title hopeful whose defense may be the best in the nation, and with the clock beginning to tick on head coach Jimbo Fisher, this could be a make or break game. Miami always plays FSU hard and this year shouldn’t be any different, but depth was an issue last season. Miami will have to stay healthy and well-conditioned to be able to compete with FSU at this point in the season.
Players to watch
FSU senior QB E.J. Manuel finally stayed healthy for most of last year and was able to show why the Noles were so excited about him. Oh yeah, and he destroyed the Canes last year.
Miami’s sophomore defensive end Anthony Chickillo will be the key to containing E.J. Manuel. Look for him to be used in almost every defensive package. His athleticism and size will provide the Canes with versatility in coverage situations.
Virginia Tech vs Clemson, October 20th
This is a rematch of the ACC championship game from last season, and Virginia Tech will be looking for revenge after the 38-10 beating they took from Clemson. The Tigers hope to build on the success of their 10-4 record last year, and this mid-season test is the perfect opportunity for them to prove last year wasn’t a fluke.
Players To Watch
Clemson junior QB Tajh Boyd had a break-out season in 2011 with over 3800 yards passing and 33 touchdowns. He also won the ACC championship MVP and will most certainly be on the Heisman watch list this year.
The Virginia Tech defensive line is the deepest and most talented in the country, but they will need to be at their best to prevent Tahj Boyd and crew from trouncing them like they did last year.
Florida State vs Virginia Tech, November 8th
A late season Thursday night game in Blacksburg, Va between the two best teams in the conference is exactly what the ACC needs to show the nation that they have as much to offer as any other conference. On paper, this is THE game to watch this year in the ACC. Both teams have returning star quarterbacks and good if not great defenses, and they are both hoping to be playing on December 1 in the championship game. This could very well be a preview of that game, and with any luck, one of them will be contending for the BCS national championship.
Players To Watch
Once again E.J. Manuel is the make or break player for the Noles. Avoiding mistakes will be his biggest obstacle against an experienced defense, and when the time comes to make THE big play, it will fall on his shoulders.
Similarly Logan Thomas will be the difference maker for VT. He has shown in the past that when the game is at stake he wants the ball in his hands, and in a game that will surely be a close one, he will need to be the leader and playmaker
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