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Predicting the ACC's Biggest Upsets in 2017

Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Miami and Virginia Tech need to be on upset alert this fall

There's something a little more compelling about a big upset in college football than most anywhere else.

 

This year, the ACC has a number of top-level teams, so the chances for a big stunner are there for the taking.

 

Teams like Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Miami and Virginia Tech all seem to have the requisite amount of preseason hype, so those are the squads that will be targeted in this look ahead at which games could possibly end up shocking the nation.

 

Here are 10 potential upsets that could rock the ACC this season and affect the College Football Playoff chase, in some instances.

 

(Keep in mind, these are not upsets that we necessarily think will happen, just a few to keep an eye on.)

 

10. Florida over Florida State, Nov. 25

This would not be a major shock because this is a rivalry game and Florida just might be the team that comes away with the SEC East crown. However, the Seminoles will be national title contenders and a defeat in Gainesville could derail those dreams.

 

Related: Top 10 ACC Non-Conference Games of 2017

 

9. Georgia Tech over Virginia Tech, Nov. 11

This also may not be considered a true upset because the Yellow Jackets dominated last year's meeting in Blacksburg. Also, while Miami and Virginia Tech are getting most of the preseason pub in the Coastal Division, Georgia Tech is being slept on too much. That won't continue if it beats the Hokies again in Atlanta.

 

8. South Carolina over Clemson, Nov. 25

The defending national champion Tigers lost quite a bit of talent to the NFL, but there is still plenty of it on the roster, particularly the defensive line. That said, South Carolina will have a sneaky-good team coming out of the SEC East, and this game will be in Columbia, so upset potential is there.

 

7. NC State over Louisville, Thur. Oct. 5

Three NC State upsets over the class of the Atlantic Division are listed here, all for different reasons. In this instance, even though the Cardinals walloped NC State last year, this year's game is in Raleigh and on a Thursday night. It's been said many times before, but Thursday night road games can be brutal, so the potential is there.

 

6. NC State over Clemson, Nov. 4

Again, the Wolfpack have a real shot at pulling the shocker here. One need only look back to last year's game when a missed chip shot field goal late in regulation opened the door for the Tigers to win in overtime. This year's game is in Raleigh, and the Wolfpack bring back enough to finish the job this time.

 

5. NC State over Florida State, Sept. 23

This upset is less likely to happen, but given the fact that the Wolfpack are a legit dark horse in the Atlantic and have the talent to possibly break into that top three group in the division, anything is possible. If this were to happen, the ACC and national landscape would be turned upside down.

 

4. Kentucky over Louisville, Nov. 25

This one is a fairly realistic expectation because the Wildcats knocked off Louisville in a close game at Papa John's Stadium last year. At that point, the Cardinals were in a bit of a tailspin, but this year's game will be in Lexington, so a repeat could occur.

 

3. Purdue over Louisville, Sept. 2

You probably won't see this one come to fruition, but for the sheer scale of it, this game belongs here. Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm has plenty of ties to Louisville and comes over after a terrific run at Western Kentucky. The Boilermakers will have their hands full trying to stop Lamar Jackson and are in full rebuild mode, but could make this one at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis interesting.

 

2. Toledo over Miami, Sept. 23

Miami has pretty much everything figured out on its roster with the exception of quarterback and, to a lesser extent, the defensive backfield, but could get a very stiff test here. Toledo might be the best team in the MAC this fall, and if the Hurricanes stumble a bit on offense to begin the season, they could be in for a battle at Hard Rock Stadium.

 

1. Arkansas State over Miami, Sept. 9

This is another upset that is highly unlikely, but there's a reason it's No. 1 on this list. The Hurricanes are traveling to Jonesboro, Arkansas, for this one, and these types of road games against an inferior Group of 5 opponent – even though Miami did it last year at Appalachian State and had zero problems – could be tricky. Arkansas State earned a share of the Sun Belt title last year and although the Red Wolves must replace some key contributors, could be a pest when the Hurricanes come to Centennial Bank Stadium.

 

— Written by Adam Kurkjian, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and is a reporter for the Boston Herald. He has covered the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston Marathon and Little League World Series, among other events from the high school, college and pro ranks. Follow him on Twitter @AdamKurkjian.

Event Date: 
Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 13:23

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