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ACC Football: Top 15 Must-See Games of 2019

ACC Football: Top 15 Must-See Games of 2019

ACC Football: Top 15 Must-See Games of 2019

The ACC had the nation's best team in 2018... but it was far from the best league. Other than Clemson, the champs, only one other ACC team was ranked in the final AP poll, Syracuse at No. 15. And 2019 looks to be more of the same: One elite team and a bunch of teams in the 20-to-40 range in the rankings. That, however, doesn't mean there aren’t compelling games in the ACC. With so much parity, beyond Clemson, there will be a ton of games that will greatly impact the division races.

Here is our list of the top 15 games involving ACC teams on the 2019 college football schedule.

1. Clemson at Syracuse, Sept. 14

No ACC team has played Clemson tougher than Dino Babers' Orange the last two seasons — with a win in Syracuse two years ago and a 27–23 loss at Clemson last fall. This is far from a sure thing for the Tigers.

Fun fact: Syracuse ran only 67 plays from scrimmage in last year's defeat at Clemson, its fewest of the 2018 season.

2. Virginia Tech at Virginia, Nov. 29

The stakes could be high when these two rivals get together in Charlottesville in late November. Virginia is hoping to become the seventh different team to win the ACC Coastal in the last seven seasons.

Fun fact: Virginia Tech has won 15 straight in the series, with four of the last seven coming by four points or fewer.

3. Texas A&M at Clemson, Sept. 7

SEC fans might never shut up if the Aggies can find a way to knock off Trevor Lawrence and the defending national champs in Death Valley.

Fun fact: The three SEC teams that Clemson played last season combined to average 7.0 yards per play; the Tigers' other 15 opponents averaged 3.4 yards per play.

4. Florida State at Clemson, Oct. 12

This was once the Game of the Year in the ACC. This fall, it will be just another game on a crowded college football Saturday — unless the Seminoles show significant improvement in Year 2 under Willie Taggart.

Fun fact: Clemson is the first ACC team to record four straight wins over Florida State.

5. Virginia at Miami, Oct. 11

Virginia’s emergence as a contender in the ACC has increased the importance of this game. Virginia will have a week off to prepare for the Canes; Miami, on the other hand, hosts Virginia Tech just six days before Virginia comes to town.

Fun fact: Only one time in the 16 meetings between these schools have both teams been ranked; in 2004, 18th-ranked Miami topped 10th-ranked Virginia.

6. Virginia Tech at Miami, Oct. 5

The ACC Coastal is wide open, as usual, but it will be a surprise if this game doesn't have a big impact on the division race.

Fun fact: The two flagship programs in the ACC Coastal Division went a combined 8–8 in league play in 2018. It was only the second time since the two teams joined the league in 2004 that the Canes and Hokies did not record a combined record in ACC games of .500 or better. The other season was 2014; both teams went 3–5.

7. Miami vs. Florida, Aug. 24 (Orlando, Fla.)

The new-look Hurricanes, led by first-year head coach Manny Diaz, will be in the national spotlight for this Week 0 clash with Florida.

Fun fact: These two programs played every season from 1938 through 1987 but have met only six times since, with two of the games in the postseason (Sugar Bowl in January 2001, Peach Bowl in December 2004).

8. Florida State at Florida, Nov. 30

Willie Taggart's first season in Tallahassee was capped off by a 41–14 loss at home to Florida. He won't be the coach for long if that continues.

Fun fact: Both teams were ranked in the top 10 at the time of this game every season from 1990 through 2000. That has happened only once in the last 18 meetings, in 2012.

9. Florida State vs. Boise State, Aug. 31 (Jacksonville, Fla.)

The Seminoles will be tested in Week 1 against a good Boise State team — but it’s also a Boise State team that must replace a four-year starter at quarterback.

Fun fact: Boise State is 3–1 all-time against teams that were in the ACC at the time of the game, with wins over Boston College, Virginia and Virginia Tech and a loss to Virginia Tech. The Broncos played Louisville twice before the Cards joined the ACC.

10. Virginia at Notre Dame, Sept. 28

This won’t affect Virginia’s quest for the ACC Coastal title, but it will give us a nice barometer of just how good the Cavs can be in 2018.

Fun fact: This will be Virginia’s first-ever trip to South Bend. The Cavs are 0–2 all-time against Notre Dame, with a 36–13 loss in the 1989 Kick-off Classic and a 34–27 loss in 2015 in Charlottesville.

11. Georgia Tech at Clemson, Aug. 29

The ACC Network launches with the defending national champs playing host to Georgia Tech as Geoff Collins makes his debut at Georgia Tech.

Fun fact: Six straight games in this series, from 1996 through 2001, were decided by exactly three points. Georgia Tech won four of those six.

12. Miami at North Carolina, Sept. 7

Mack Brown will make his home debut against another one of the ACC's new coaches — Brown's old defensive coordinator at Texas, Manny Diaz.

Fun fact: Miami completed only eight passes in last year’s 47–10 win over North Carolina. The Canes tied a school record with three defensive TDs in the game.

13. Pittsburgh at Penn State, Sept. 14

Pittsburgh won the ACC Coastal Division a year ago, but the season wasn’t a complete success: The Panthers lost to hated rival Penn State 51–6, the most lopsided game in the series in more than 40 years.

Fun fact: Pitt has been ranked in the top five in the nation eight times when playing Penn State, with a 6–2 record in those games.

14. Louisville at Kentucky, Nov. 30

Scott Satterfield will end Year 1 as the boss at Louisville with a short trip to Lexington. Historically, this is a game Cardinal fans expect to win.

Fun fact: Since this series was resumed in 1994, after a 70-year hiatus, this game has never featured two ranked teams. Louisville has been ranked eight times when playing UK; Kentucky has been ranked only once, last year, when it was No. 17 and won 56–10.

15. Duke at North Carolina, Oct. 26

Mack Brown won his final eight games against Duke during his first tour of duty in Chapel Hill. Times have changed: Duke has won three straight in the series:

Fun fact: Duke has not defeated North Carolina by double digits since 1989, a 41–0 shutout in Chapel Hill. Each of the Blue Devils' six wins since has come by fewer than 10 points.