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ACC Football: Top 10 Must-See Games of 2018

Clemson Tigers DT Christian Wilkins

Clemson Tigers DT Christian Wilkins

The ACC might be a half-step behind the SEC and Big Ten when ranking the top conferences in the nation, but the league has been very strong at the top in recent years. In fact, an ACC team has appeared in the College Football Playoff in all four seasons — Florida State in 2014 and Clemson every year since.

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It’s no surprise that the Clemson and Florida State divisonal clash ranks as the top game in the league in 2018 — but that is far from the only must-see game in the ACC in the fall. Here’s our list of the top 10.

1. Clemson at Florida State (Oct. 27)

It’s the ACC’s most anticipated game of the regular season for a reason: The teams have combined to win the last nine Atlantic Division titles. And one of the two teams has played in every College Football Playoff (Florida State in 2014, Clemson in 2015, ’16, ’17).

College Football Top 25 Rankings: FSU
College Football Top 25 Rankings: Clemson

Fun fact: Clemson has won three straight in the series. It’s the Tigers’ second three-game winning streak vs. FSU (2005-07 was the other). They have never won four straight.

2. Miami at Virginia Tech (Nov. 17)

This game could decide the Coastal Division title. The teams have split their past 10 meetings and the past two division titles. The Hokies will be hoping for a cold mid-November day — or, even better, night — at Lane Stadium.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Virginia Tech
College Football Top 25 Rankings: Miami

Fun fact: Virginia Tech averaged 3.99 yards per play in last year’s 28–10 loss at Miami. It was the only time last season and just the second time in Justin Fuente’s two seasons that Tech averaged fewer than 4.0 yards per play in a game.

3. Florida State at Miami (Oct. 6)

The bitter in-state rivals still have not met in the ACC Championship Game, but Miami is “back” after snapping a seven-game losing streak in the series last year and winning the Coastal for the first time.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Miami
College Football Top 25 Rankings: FSU

Fun Fact: Miami is 1–6 at home against Florida State since joining the ACC. The lone win came in 2004, the Canes’ first season in the league.  

4. Clemson at Texas A&M (Sept. 8)

It’s another round of Jimbo Fisher vs. Dabo Swinney, but this time Fisher is the boss at Texas A&M after making the move from Florida State. The Aggies might not be the best team Clemson plays in 2018, but Kyle Field will no doubt be the most difficult environment the Tigers will deal with.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Texas A&M
College Football Top 25 Rankings: Clemson

Fun fact: Swinney has played at least two games against SEC teams in each of his nine full seasons at Clemson and has a 12–9 record against the league.

5. Miami at Georgia Tech (Nov. 10)

This game, one week before Miami’s trip to Virginia Tech, could be trouble. Georgia Tech was better than its 5–6 record last year and came one fourth-down stop away from beating the Canes in Miami last season.

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College Football Top 25 Rankings: Miami

Fun fact: Paul Johnson and Mark Richt will square off for the 11th consecutive season, dating back to Richt’s time as the coach at Georgia.

6. Louisville at Clemson (Nov. 3)

Jawon Pass will try to do something Lamar Jackson couldn’t: defeat the Tigers. In fact, Louisville is 0–4 against the Tigers since joining the ACC in 2014.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Clemson
College football rankings: Louisville

Fun fact: Clemson has averaged 7.57 and 8.18 yards per play the last two seasons against Louisville; it represents two of the Tigers’ three best single-game averages against Power 5 opponents during this stretch.

7. Penn State at Pittsburgh (Sept. 8)

This is a great opportunity not only for Pitt to knock off its in-state rival but also for the ACC to record a win over a preseason top-10 opponent.

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College Football Top 25: Penn State

Fun fact: This is one of four ACC vs. Big Ten matchups in the 2018 regular season. The others: Boston College at Purdue, Virginia at Indiana and Duke at Northwestern.

8. Florida State at NC State (Nov. 3)

Opinions vary widely on NC State this fall. The Wolfpack boast the league’s most seasoned quarterback in Ryan Finley, but they lost a ton of star power on defense.

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College Football Top 25 Rankings: FSU

Fun fact: Willie Taggart was in his final season as the head coach at Western Kentucky (three jobs ago!) when Finley was a senior in high school. Finley, now in his sixth year of college, graduated from Paradise Valley High School in Arizona in 2012.

9. Miami at Boston College (Oct. 26)

Looking for an upset? How about Miami’s late-October trip to Chestnut Hill for a Friday night affair? Last fall, the Eagles pounded Florida State 35–3 on a Friday night in October.

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College Football Top 25 Rankings: Miami

Fun fact: Miami and Boston College have played only four times since both schools joined the ACC in the mid-2000s. The series is tied at 2–2 since then.

10. Boston College at Wake Forest (Sept. 13)

This is an intriguing early season matchup between two potential sleepers in the Atlantic Division. Wake Forest, however, will be without Kendall Hinton, its projected starting QB who will be serving the final game of a three-game suspension.

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Fun fact: The losing team has scored fewer than 20 points in each of the past eight games in the series.

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